What you need to know about moving and storing weapons

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.

It's no accident that Massachusetts currently has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. The tragic events following the mass shooting deaths of 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut, inspired Massachusetts legislators to take action to prevent similar horrors from happening here.

The problem is that although well-intentioned, many of these laws can easily ensnare otherwise law-abiding citizens. Making matters worse, gun charges are some of the most punishable offenses, often carrying lengthy sentences and heavy fines. There is also a deep social stigma attached to convictions for gun-related crimes.

If you currently own a firearm, there are a few things you should know if you live in Massachusetts. If you are traveling with a rifle or shotgun, Massachusetts law requires you to first unload them before putting them in your vehicle and driving away. This also applies to muzzleloaders and other black powder-type firearms.

If you own a handgun or a large capacity firearm, not only do you first have to unload them for driving, but you must also remember that you cannot leave them unattended inside your vehicle. The only exception to this is if you place them within a locked case, some other secure container or your trunk.

There also similar restrictions for storing a weapon inside your own home. For example, all handguns, rifles and shotguns must be kept under conditions where they are not easily accessible to people not authorized to use it. Generally, these weapons will need to be kept in a safe or equipped with some form of tamper-resistant mechanical device such as a full trigger lock mechanism. The only exception to these rules are primitive firearms and antique weapons.

With so many strict rules, it's easy to see how an avid hunter or target practice enthusiasts could easily run afoul of the law. Fortunately, you have a constitutionally protected right to retain legal representation.

Your Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can represent you throughout each stage of your criminal gun charge case. The use of an attorney with experience in gun laws can prevent you from saying or doing something that may result in additional charges. Your attorney can also examine the prosecution's case against you and advise you regarding the most favorable defense strategy available to you.

Source: Massachusetts General Assembly, "Section 131L Weapons stored or kept by owner; inoperable by any person other than owner or lawfully authorized user; punishment," accessed May. 06, 2015