Gun Sales and Concealed Carry Permits Soar in Massachusetts

An article in The MetroWest Daily News reported that gun sales and applications to carry concealed firearms are on the rise in Massachusetts, mirroring a nationwide trend.

Licensing in Mass

Massachusetts is a ‘may-issue’ state.  As a result, obtaining a firearm is not a matter of simply satisfying some objective requirements laid out in the law.  Rather, approval for concealed carry is at the discretion of local police departments.

There are several different types of permits available to the public: Class A, Class B, firearms ID card and a card that one must acquire to carry mace or pepper spray.  Class A is the license that allows a state resident to carry a loaded, concealed handgun.

To apply for a Class A one must complete a 4-hour, state-certified safety course.  After the individual completes the course, he/she brings the certificate to the local police department, which – as mentioned – makes the final call.

(To read more on CCW licensing in Mass, click here).


According to state records, Massachusetts issued more than 21,100 new Class A licenses in 2010 and upward of 22,300 in 2011.

Overall, and as the MetroWest Daily News reported, residents held a total of 246,775 Class A licenses as of Feb. 1 – an 8.4 percent increase from April 2010, when licenses totaled 227,612.

FBI criminal background checks, one of the barometers for gauging gun sales, have also increased in the Bay State in recent years.  In 2011, there were 153,487 checks, approximately one-third more than in 2010 (the all-time high was in 2007, when there was a total of 165,446 checks).

Nationwide there’s also been uptick in FBI background checks.  The FBI reported 16.5 million criminal background checks on potential gun buyers last year.  That’s up 15% from 2010.

nssf adjusted nics chart

Reasons for Rise

As always, opinions vary on why gun sales are booming across the country: everything from the looming threat that the Obama Administration will mete out confiscatory gun policies to economic uncertainty to crime to more positive factors, such as, a growing interest in hunting and other gun-related activities – have been cited as the underlying cause.

wayne-lapierre“People are just nervous,” Richard Callaghan, owner of Callaghan Firearms in Marlborough, told MetroWest Daily. “They don’t know what the future holds.”

“I get a general sense that people have an eye on the politics of it and feel that there’s some clampdown coming toward their ability to get a license, as well as the state of the economy,” Wrentham Police Lt. Michael Robillard told MetroWest Daily.

Another argument put forth to explain the rise is fear mongering by pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association.

“It’s the NRA’s big priority to tell everyone you can’t trust the government, and you need (a) concealed carry (license) because you can’t trust your neighbor either,” John Rosenthal, the founder and chairman of a Newton-based group Stop Handgun Violence, told MetroWest Daily.

Bottom Line

As more and more evidence comes forward, it’s clear that gun ownership is on the rise.  Nevertheless, people – in particular gun control advocates – will continue to argue the opposite.

One can recall what Josh Horwitz, a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the Executive Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, wrote in his article this past January:

So why do the NSSF and NRA continue to refuse to give reporters access to actual sales data (which they get from every other industry in America)? The answer to that question is obvious. The gun lobby is desperate to perpetuate its image as The Lobby That Cannot Be Crossed by Politicians in the face of a very harsh reality: Declining gun ownership in the United States.

One has to ask the question: Josh, how do you explain (or refute) the concrete numbers reported by Massachusetts?  (Or Iowa or Wisconsin or Illinois)?

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