What Self-Defense Weapons are Legal in Massachusetts?

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By Bryan Rucker •  9 min read

Self-defense weapons are an essential part of maintaining personal safety in any situation. Therefore, it is critical to understand which self-defense weapons are permitted in your state to protect yourself and your family.

Carrying a firearm, for example, is permitted in the majority of states. However, there are some reasonable restrictions on what you can bring with you to ensure that the general public is not endangered.

For example, the type of gun you can carry, the amount of ammunition you can carry, and the location where you can carry it are all frequently restricted.

Pepper spray is another common form of a self-defense weapon. This article will concentrate primarily on Massachusetts’s weapons laws to provide you with an understanding of how your state’s laws may differ.

Legal Self-Defense Weapons in Massachusetts

1: Tactical Pens

Despite the fact that tactical pens are considered legal in all 50 states (including Massachusetts), they have steadily risen in popularity as one of the most popular self-defense items. And why shouldn’t they be?

They don’t attract much attention and can be quickly deployed as a surprise weapon in an emergency if necessary. You can also use a tactical pen to break glass windows, depending on their size and construction.

It is important to note, however, that just because something is legal does not mean you can use it to attack someone; even though tactical pens look and feel like a real pen, they have the potential to cause serious injury or death to others.

2: Pepper Spray

Individuals over 18 who wish to carry pepper spray are permitted under Massachusetts law. They can also use it for self-defense in situations such as being attacked by a person, a dog, or a pack of wild animals, among other things.

It can be carried in one’s pocket or purse, making it one of the most popular self-defense items carried by females everywhere in the United States.

Before using pepper spray, make sure to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation. If this item is misused, it can result in criminal charges against the person or animal who has been subjected to it.

Individuals with mental health issues, criminal records, and drug abuse are not permitted to carry pepper spray in the state of Massachusetts legally.

3: Stun Guns

Prior to June 2018, stun guns were considered illegal in the state of Massachusetts; however, you can now obtain a permit to carry a stun gun in the state of Massachusetts.

To possess a stun gun, one will need to obtain an LTC (License to Carry), and these items should only be purchased from a licensed firearms retailer.

Because stun guns fall under the category of firearms, you should exercise caution when using and storing them.

Like guns, they should not be taken to unauthorized or illegal locations where other mainstream firearms are kept or transported. If you do not follow these instructions, you may find yourself in legal trouble.

4: Expandable Baton

Because they are non-lethal and do not require a license or permission to possess, you will not have any problems as long as you keep your expandable baton indoors.

However, if you use them to commit a crime or cause a disturbance in the peace, you may be subject to criminal prosecution, and the baton will be considered a weapon.

In the event that you are attacked in your own home, an expandable baton can be a useful self-defense item to have on hand.

However, please keep in mind that it has the potential to cause serious injury, so please use it only in self-defense situations!

5: Folding Knives

In general, possessing folding knives is perfectly legal in Massachusetts; rather than being classified as a weapon, they are classified as tools, along with swiss knives and kitchen knives, among other things.

The possession of folding knives with the intent to engage in criminal activity or cause harm to innocent people, on the other hand, will continue to be considered illegal.

When someone is arrested on a warrant or is causing a disturbance in the peace, anything dangerous found on or in the person can be considered a weapon by the state’s law enforcement officials.

Also, do not bring them with you to an airport, as the security personnel will almost certainly confiscate them from your possession. If you are attacked, a folding knife will be considered a self-defense tool by the authorities.

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Most Effective Self-Defense Weapon in Massachusetts

The most effective form of self-defense is to avoid getting into dangerous situations in the first place. However, it is not always possible to stay away from such situations. You never know when you might be attacked or find yourself in a dangerous situation.

Aside from firearms, which can be extremely lethal, there are various other options for personal defense.

Whistles, personal alarms, flashlights, tactical pens, pepper sprays, stun guns, tactical gloves, folding knives, and other similar items are examples of such things.

In addition, you should be aware of all applicable state laws and abide by them to avoid legal repercussions. Some of these require licensing, while others can be purchased and carried without permission from authorities.

What Guns Are Legal in Massachusetts?

1: Handgun

If you live in Massachusetts, you can legally own a handgun if you obtain a license to carry (License to Carry-LTC) issued by Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is stringent regarding gun control; anyone applying for a concealed firearms license will undergo a thorough background check.

Even if you are not carrying your handgun, it must always be kept in a locked and secure container until you are ready to use it. In addition, to be eligible for an LTC, you must be at least 21 years old and meet all other eligibility requirements.

After receiving clearance, you will obtain your license after paying a fee. The license will be valid for the next six years, after which you will be required to renew it once more.

2: Shotgun

It is not necessary to have an LTC to carry a shotgun in Massachusetts, but you will need a Firearms Identification Card if you want to do so (FID).

Before applying, all first-time license applicants must first complete the Massachusetts Certified Firearms Safety Course or the Basic Hunter Education Course. In addition, residents of Massachusetts will need to follow a different procedure when transporting a shotgun.

If you are only passing through the state, your shotgun must be empty and kept in an enclosed container at all times. You will not be required to obtain a separate license to transport the firearm throughout the state.

3: Semi-Auto Rifle

As a semi-automatic rifle falls under the category of large-capacity weapons in Massachusetts, obtaining LTC (License to Carry) permission from the state police department is necessary. Suppose you are a non-resident or permanent resident alien.

In that case, you will need to follow a different procedure to obtain the same semi-automatic rifle license as if you were a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien.

No matter the case, I suggest you check with your local authorities to make sure you play your cards right due to their stringent and unforgiving laws.

Some Open Questions

Do you have to be a member of the NRA to get a gun in Massachusetts?

You don’t need to be a member of the NRA to get a gun in Massachusetts, but you do need to have a license.

There are different types of licenses, depending on what type of gun you want to buy. Also, you need to be over 21 and not have any criminal convictions to get a license. If your application is denied, it’s possible that you could appeal the decision at a later date.

Also, make sure to check the specific laws in your town or city, as some places have additional restrictions on gun ownership.

Is there an open carry law in Massachusetts?

In general terms, no. In contrast with other states such as Vermont or New Hampshire, open-carrying firearms on public property is prohibited by state law in Massachusetts. However, suppose someone has a permit for concealed weapons.

In that case, they are allowed to take their gun into specific areas where guns would otherwise be illegal – e.g., schools and government buildings (including parking lots).

Also, note that municipalities can control how their laws work within their jurisdiction, so some cities may choose to allow open carry, even though it’s technically not allowed statewide.

Do I need a permit for pepper spray and stun guns in MA?

This is a question that seems to come up a lot. People often assume they are illegal if not used for hunting or sport shooting purposes for self-defense products.

As you can imagine, this is not true in MA. But before we get into the legality of carrying pepper spray and stun guns, here’s some information about each type of product.

For example, Pepper Spray cannot physically penetrate more than ¼ inch beneath the skin (subcutaneous).


Now that you know the laws surrounding self-defense weapons, you can see how they might help you in a dangerous situation. However, it is essential to note that these are not full explanations of the law and will not be sufficient as actual legal advice.

Always make sure you are following the law in your state, and look for ways to acquire self-defense weapons that you can legally use.

When it comes to self-defense, always remember that the best way to protect yourself is to stay aware of your surroundings and be prepared for anything. Remember, if you are ever in doubt, do not use the weapon. It is better to be safe than sorry. Stay safe out there!

Bryan Rucker

Brian Rucker has spent his entire life participating in essentially all things wildlife. His concern grew astronomically during the previous tensions between the United States and other nations. He also has grown a substantial interest in survival and sustainability due to the current shape of the world over the years. He believes that preparation triumphs all things.