Large-Capacity Gun Permits Rise in Woburn

See how many gun permits were issued in Woburn over the past five years.


The Beretta 92 pistol. The SPAS-12 shotgun.

These are examples of the types of large-capacity firearms for which permits have increased 31.5 percent in Woburn since 2008, according to state records. Ownership permits for smaller-capacity firearms have moderately fluctuated.

'Large-capacity' firearms are defined by the state of Massachusetts as semi-automatic handguns or rifles with the capacity of more than 10 ammunition rounds in their magazines and shotguns capable of having more than five shells.

The numbers have emerged as state and federal officials have recently proposed new gun restrictions, and imposed others, in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.


Since 2008, the number of gun permits issued to Woburn residents has increased for some types of firearms but remained relatively flat, or have shown a decrease, for others, as shown in the chart below and graph in the photo box to the right. 

Police departments in each Massachusetts community review and issue gun permits to anybody that applies and those statistics are forwarded to the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. Patch obtained the records from the EOPSS.














Firearms ID Card






Firearms ID Card (Mace)






Class A, License to Carry Large-Capacity






Class B License to Carry, Non-Large-Capacity






License to Possess A Machine Gun








CLASS A LICENSE TO CARRY: A class A license allows a person to possess or carry all types of ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns and large and non-large-capacity magazines, according to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife website. Licensees are also allowed to carry their weapon, loaded or unloaded, while concealed.

Applicants must be 21 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass a firearms safety course or hunters course. However, police departments are allowed to impose restrictions on a class A license. The permit lasts for six years.

CLASS B LICENSE TO CARRY: A class B license allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns (large and non-large capacity) and handguns, according to the DFW website. Licensees must be 21 or older, pay the $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Class B applicants are not subject to police restrictions and the license is valid for six years.

FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION CARD: An FID card allows individuals to have or carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns and ammo, but not handguns, according to the DFW website. Applicants must be 18 or older, pay a $100 fee and pass either the firearms or hunters course. Police have 40 days to issue a written response after an application is filed and denials must be issued in writing. Extra conditions cannot be imposed. Also, for a $25 fee, applicants between 15 and 17 may apply, with parental consent.

Gun owners are not required to retake the safety courses to renew their licenses, according to the state website.

LICENSE TO POSSESS A MACHINE GUN: Licenses to carry machine guns (any gun capable of rapid fire shots through one trigger squeeze) are not issued in Massachusetts. Only firearms instructors and gun collectors are allowed to apply for licenses to possess machine guns.

NON-RESIDENTS: Anybody who is not a resident of Massachusetts can legally carry a non-large capacity rifle or shotgun for hunting as long as they are permitted to carry those in their home state, according to the DFW website. Non-residents are prohibited from buying ammunition in Massachusetts.

LEGAL IMMIGRANTS: As of April 30, 2012, legal immigrants can apply for licenses to carry a firearm as well as a firearms identification card, according to the DFW website. 

APPEALS: Anybody denied a gun permit has the right to appeal, according to state law.


In addition to the license rules, Massachusetts has several other regulations, including: (source: Massachusetts state law).

  • Gun dealers are prohibited from selling assault weapons or large-capacity magazines (e.g. a detachable drum magazine) unless they were bought before Sept. 13, 1994. Examples of assault weapons banned: FN/FAL, Steyr-AUG, TEC-9, Uzis, and AR-15s.
  • Individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors that included at least a two-year jail sentence may not apply for a gun permit. Also, anybody convicted of prior gun or drug offenses or violent crimes is also prohibited.  
  • Individuals who have been sent to mental health hospitals are prohibited from owning guns unless a doctor issues permission.
  • Individuals who have been treated for substance abuse are barred from owning guns unless a doctor declared the person “cured.”
  • Also, anybody against whom restraining orders have been filed against are also prohibited from having guns.


In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed new rules on guns along with Pres. Barack Obama. Obama has also issued new rules through his executive order powers. 

New Proposed State Gun Rules (Press release from Patrick)

  • Abolishing high-power ammunition.
  • Requiring background checks be performed for gun sales done at gun shows.
  • A limit of one gun purchase per month.
  • Prohibiting anybody under 21 from buying a machine gun.
  • Sharing relevant mental health information with a state database, which would more easily help federal officials perform background checks on prospective gun buyers.
  • Also, Patrick proposed an additional $5 million for increased mental health services.
  • The bill, if passed, would create four new gun crimes, which prosecutors could use to put offenders who use a gun behind bars.
  • New authority would be given to police to arrest individuals without having a warrant if they encounter a dangerous situation.
  • The bill would also increase penalties for having a gun on school grounds.

Obama’s Proposed Gun Regulations (Source: Huffington Post)

New Gun Rules Imposed by Obama (Source: Huffington Post)

  • Modifying health care privacy laws to make more mental health information available for background checks.
  • Authority for police to do background checks before returning a gun seized from its owner.
  • Federal law enforcers must now trace the origins of any gun used in a crime.
  • Increased prosecution of gun crimes.
  • Clarification of the Obama’s health care law to say doctors are allowed to ask patients whether they have a gun in their home.

 What are your thoughts on the kind and number of gun permits issues in Woburn? Are you surprised at the jump in permit applications for large-capacity weapons? Let us know in the comments section below.

Aron Levy January 22, 2013 at 03:51 PM
The SPAS-12 shotgun is misleading. You can only purchase one as a Title II device. It is not available on the open market.
Aron Levy January 22, 2013 at 03:54 PM
And those machine gun licenses probably all belong to the same people. They have to be renewed every year.
David Chesler January 22, 2013 at 07:08 PM
"Ownership permits for smaller-caliber firearms have moderately fluctuated." I don't think that word means what you think it means.
Precision Point Firearms January 22, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Sorry Aron, but you're wrong on both comments. Machine Gun Licenses expire on between 5/6 years on your birthday. The only license that requires renewal every year is a Non-Resident LTC/FID which is done through the headquarters in Chelsea. Also, a Spas-12 is NOT a Destructive device classified by the National Firearms Act and can be purchased by civilians. I think you are confusing it with a Cobray Street Sweeper.
Shannon January 22, 2013 at 08:02 PM
When we took the gun safety course in 2010 we were told that the Woburn Chief of Police at the time refused to issue Class A licenses to anyone but Law Enforcement and some Business Owners. I would be interested to see if the amount of woburn residents employed in law enforcement has increased respectively from 2008-2012, accounting for the numbers? And/Or, are more residents applying under the new Chief of Police over the past 2 years?
Precision Point Firearms January 22, 2013 at 08:42 PM
@Shannon: Your instructor must have misspoke. He was most likely talking about unrestricted Class A-LTC's. As a firearms instructor that lives in Woburn, I can vouch that there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding licensing policies in this state. In 2010, Under Chief Mahoney, Class A licenses were often issued to eligible applicants 21 and older. However, a Chief can issue restrictions on licenses. These restrictions limit the license in terms of what the licensee can do. Restrictions such as, "Target and Hunting" allow the licensee to have their firearms for hunting and sporting purposes only. It restricts the licensee from Carrying a firearm for personal protection. A restriction of "None" or "All Lawful Purposes" allows the Licensee to lawfully carry the firearm on their person as they wish within the limits of state and federal law. It was the policy of Chief Mahoney to issue restricted Class A Licenses (Primarily Target and hunting) to applicants who were not business owners, law enforcement, or individuals who had good reason to fear for their life or property. In Massachusetts a License to Carry is issued at the discretion of the chief and can deny or restrict people due to suitability.
Roth Gill January 22, 2013 at 10:56 PM
License to possess a machine gun.... Only firearms instructors and gun collectors are allowed to apply for licenses to possess machine guns. Not that I plan on buying a machine guy, but what qualifies you as a "gun collector"? The term "gun collector" implies that anyone who says they are "collecting" guns should get a permit?! Good to know. Isn't anyone who buys a gun technically a "gun collector"? Maybe in order to be considered a gun collector you need to possess multiple guns? I like stamps....so if I happen to acquire multiple stamps one might consider me a stamp collector? Right? :-) Maybe Precision Point Firearms person can help out explain this. What qualifies a person as a "Gun Collector"? Is there another permit that a person must apply to ahead of time to be considered a "Gun Collector"?
dan January 22, 2013 at 10:57 PM
The patch e-mail new is concerned how many people exercise their 2nd amendment rights while they leave the medial alone who exploit the 1st amendment. For instance, according to Retired Colonel Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano, who wrote the book “Stop Teaching our Kids to Kill,” there have been over (5,000) five thousands studies showing a causal relationship that TV and media cause violence. This book was written in 1999 and the studies have been conducted since the early 1950’s— http://www.killology.com/new_media_vio.htm Furthermore, shortly before the Connecticut massacre, the state considered passing an involuntary outpatient treatment law which would forcibly committed the mentally ill murderer. However, ACLU protested and the law failed. His mother, the teachers and the children would have been alive today if the ACLU didn’t protest. Just like the Woburn Patch publishing the firearms information on its web paper, the ACLU knew the press would blame the NRA and the licenses firearm public. Anyway, the President and Woburn Patch have left this information out of the public decision. Was it because the president received millions of dollars from Hollywood for his presidential campaign and the 15 million tax break for Hollywood; and the tax increase for the working people weren’t enough? How much advertising or donations does Hollywood give the Patch newspaper through grant money to pay for their silence; and to publish firearm licenses information?
Precision Point Firearms January 22, 2013 at 11:36 PM
@ Roth: Machine Guns and class 3 firearms are some of the most regulated firearms in the country and the laws in Massachusetts make it even harder. A Machine gun license is given at the discretion of the Chief of Police and the way Mass laws are written is that simply touching a Machine gun unlicensed would be a felony. To answer your question, Yes you would need much harder to get "permits". You would have to have an FFL (Federal Firearms License) to be considered a Bona Fide Collector of Firearms. You would have to apply through the BATFE. It is not a license that is just handed out per say. In order for the average licensed civilian to own a machine gun it would have to be made and registered with the ATF before 1986 to be considered transferable. Anything after that you would need to be a class 3 dealer to get post 86 Machine guns (with a demo letter from a Police department) or the even harder route, you could be a class 3 Manufacture and make them. Both those FFL routes require and SOT (Special Occupational Tax). So just because you get a MG license doesn't necessarily mean you can just go buy a Machine gun. You would need to do a Form 4 transfer of said MG. This involves paying a $200 Tax stamp, getting fingerprinted, photographed, and then getting the chief of police to sign off saying it's ok to have it. Then you submit it and wait 6-8 months while the FBI Investigates your record. It's not easy what so ever.
Precision Point Firearms January 22, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Also, it's not just any firearms instructor that is eligible. I forget the exact MGL but It's somewhere in MGL c.140 § 131 ( (o)(ii) I think) that says only firearm instructors certified by the municipal police training committee for the purpose of of police personnel. In addition to the regulations I spoke of earlier there are so many more. For instance, If one want's to take a class three firearm across State lines, you have to have an approved 5320.20 form stating it's ok. So you pretty much have to ask the Federal government if it's ok to do so. The Tax stamp process also applies to Sound suppressors/"Silencers" (illegal for civilian use in MA), Short barrel Rifles (Rifles with less than 16 inch barrels) Short Barrel Shotguns, Destructive Devices, and AOW's (Any other Weapon). I know you were joking with the stamp collecting comparisons but I think that now after I've taken the time to explain just how difficult it is you'll understand how regulated these items are.
Dr. Paul Anderson January 23, 2013 at 05:27 AM
In response to large-capacity gun permits,and recently Imposed gun regulations: none of these types of measures, have previously curbed violent crime. Currently, there are some 2,200 federal gun laws on the books. In light of Pres.Obama's re-election,Constitutional 2nd Amendments gun rights are in serious jeopardy. His expressed views concerning U.S.Constitution, is said to be of a: " flawed document". Flawed in that government-imposed redistribution of wealth, is missing from the document. Pres.Obama's views regarding the banning of firearms,originates with United Nations Global Disarmament, which also includes small arms. The U.N.is of the opinion: "removing firearms from citizens, will reduce crime". Either they are deceived, or they have a deceptive agenda. Much research has lead me to believe, it's a deceptive agenda. A recommended search: "UNODA Civil Society and Disarmament 2012" After opening the UNODA U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs webpage,download: "UNODA Civil Society and Disarmament 2012" document. President Barack Obama wasn't kidding when he said: he was planning to "fundamentally change America." The Constitution is fundamental to the survival of this great nation.
Aron Levy January 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM
You're right on both counts. I got my numbers wrong, and I was confused by the AWB. It was the 'no sporting purpose' decision that threw me. Sorry for the misinformation.
Aron Levy January 23, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Dr Paul, the Constitution was purposefully written in a vague manner. It is a living document. If the President decides to reinstate the AWB and Congress approves (just like your hero Ronnie Ray-gun had wished), that is entirely within his power. And you need to stop drinking the JBS's anti-fluoride. This has nothing to do with the UN. This has to do with two horrific shootings in the past three months.
dan January 25, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Aron Levy, “The living Constitution notion, the notion that all words are ambiguous and it is really up to the Court to give the meaning, is much more attractive to academics than it is to judges.” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Aron Levy January 25, 2013 at 05:19 AM
Says Scalia the hyper-conservative Constrivist. Why didn't you post a quote from Clarence Thomas? Oh, wait. You did.
Aron Levy January 25, 2013 at 05:22 AM
Stupid phone. That was supposed to say 'Constructivist.' And in case you missed my reference, Thomas has been silent for seven years. He is merely Scalia's puppet, agreeing with everything Antonin says and writes.
dan January 25, 2013 at 11:24 AM
Are your a judge or a legal academic? Both Judges Scalia and Thomas are.
chefhockey January 25, 2013 at 12:00 PM
1200 class A LTCs out of 40,000 residents. That is far below the national average. Why is this even being discussed? News manipulation by choice of story. Plain and simple. We are smarter than that. Let us not forget that the Patch is still an arm of Huffington Socialist Propaganda Media Bureau.
Danielle Masterson (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 03:28 PM
While that may below the national average, this story focuses on Woburn-specific numbers and the fact that licenses in Woburn have increased by 31.5% (285 licenses) over the last five years. Why was this reported? I think this sentence in the story answers that: "The numbers have emerged as state and federal officials have recently proposed new gun restrictions, and imposed others, in the wake of the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn."
Aron Levy January 25, 2013 at 03:51 PM
I'm a legal academic (minored in Constitutional history), and it is my learned notion that Clarence Thomas was an affirmative action appointment. And I'm allowed to disagree with them. It says right their in the very first of those new-fangled Constitutional Amendments. And I know of PLENTY of judges who aren't strict constructivists. They are called liberals.
Dr. Paul Anderson January 25, 2013 at 09:04 PM
The framers never intended for the Constitution to be a "living document". It's not the framers Constitution that makes it a "living document", it's the 10 Amendments that alters the intentions of the framers, and thus the Amendments are as you say "living".The continuation of altering the original Constitution, will eventually destroy the original intent the framers had. If you compare James Madison 1st Amendment to the current 1st Amendment,a vast difference exists. The intentions to alter the Constitution are to add "equality" to the equation. Sounds nice until one realizes that the goal is Social and Economic Justice.By the way,Social Justice is the 9th plank of the Communist Manifesto. (Karl Marx) Search: "Authentic U.S.Government Information - First Amendment Religion and Expression" (PDF file Pg. 969)
Aron Levy January 25, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Dr Paul, social justice is also a plank of Catholicism. So nice try there. And you're talking to a dyed-in-the-wool Social Democrat here. Bringing up Big Bad Karl doesn't scare me. So you don't like any of the Amendments after Ten? Okie doke. We'll just bring back slavery, the indirect election of senators, disenfranchisement of women, and any number of things.
Aron Levy January 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Oh, and here's the thing Paul. Madison's first draft isn't the Constitution. The Constitution is the Constitution. So you can argue original intent all you want. But the matter stands. I can't wait for you to tell me you're a Fourteenther.
Dr. Paul Anderson January 26, 2013 at 01:57 AM
Aron! Madison proposed on June 8,1789 the following freedoms that later became the First Amendment: “The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed. “The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable. “The people shall not be restrained from peaceably assembling and consulting for their common good; nor from applying to the legislature by petitions, or remonstrances for redress of their grievances.” Although Madison’s proposal differs greatly from the eventual 45 words of the First Amendment, he earned his moniker as the “Father of the Bill of Rights.” The House of Rep.was responsible for further (Progressive) changes to the 1st Amendment.
Dr. Paul Anderson January 26, 2013 at 05:54 AM
"Aron! It is true that the Catholic Hierrarchy takes a position on Social and Economic Justice. They refer to Ecomic Justice as "Economic Life".Father Charles Coughlin (1891-1979)was behind much of the Socialist influence Search:"Jewish Virtual Library - Father Charles Coughlin" That doesn't mean that the church isn't split on this issue,in that some give out of a caring and concerned heart to various church charities and ministries. The position taken in the Scriptures,is one of Giving and not (Marxist) Social Justice. Suggested Research: A Catholic Framework for Economic Life. A Statement of the U.S.Catholic Bishops November 1996 http://old.usccb.org/jphd/cffel.pdf Speaking of Catholicism: a thorough knowledge and understanding of the Ancient Roman Empire are necessary, in that it's the foundation for Roman Catholicism. Historic quote: When the power of pagan Rome declined (351-476 AD), the power of papal Rome increased as the Church accumulated more power and influence. When the emperor Constantine (306-337 AD) blended paganism and Christianity into one around 321 AD, Rome became the religious capital of the world."
Aron Levy January 26, 2013 at 06:06 AM
So what do you propose, Paul? You've shown me you can copy and paste references with the best of them. Are you trying to insinuate social justice is anti-Semitic because it had a major proponent in Charles Coughlin? Or that the Roman Church is somehow pagan? And frankly, considering what the polls say, the bishops don't speak for lay Catholics anymore. So I don't see that as a valid source. But keep copying and pasting. Original synthesis is vastly overrated.
Aron Levy January 26, 2013 at 06:08 AM
Also Paul, I'm curious as to what kind of doctor you are. I feel it would help me better understand degree you're coming from.
Dr. Paul Anderson January 26, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Aron: In regards to your query concerning my Doctorate:I have an Ed.D in Secondary Education and a Masters in Administration ,with twenty five years of teaching both Math and Science. My B.S.is in Aeronautical Engineering.I also developed a passion for History in the 80',during my years working inside the Washington Beltway.My clearances allowed me access to nearly all of the agencies and institutions within the Washington Beltway. .Being retired, affords me lots of time to do research in specific areas of interest. Some suggestions in researching various topics. The news media is just about the worst place to search for information, in that it's almost always slanted. I only use the news media as an outline to research. The best source of information are Archival sources such as the Library of Congress or the National Archives. Books 1st or 2nd edition by the original author, and not an edited edition. For example,if you wanted to do some research on Darwin, you would search the Cambridge Univ. Library in the UK. They have all of his original manuscripts. The U.S.Constitution both the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Speaking of Darwin,if you read any of his books past the 2nd edition, the information is slanted by the individual that edited one of these editions. By the way, Darwin just happened to borrow his supposed discoveries from the Greeks (600-100 B.c.) Even Pliny the Ancient Roman spoke of such things. Oh...Well
Aron Levy January 26, 2013 at 10:30 PM
Paul, you're talking to an historian of science and technology. Please don't patronize.
Aron Levy January 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM
And you're right, the First Edition is the only one that matters.


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