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How to Legally Get an AR15 in Massachusetts

A Tricked out AR15 Rifle

Navigating the labyrinthine process of obtaining a firearms license in Massachusetts is just the beginning for many new gun owners. Once you’ve managed to secure that license, a whole new set of questions arises, particularly:

Can I own an AR15 in the state of Massachusetts?

The answer is a resounding "Yes... but it’s complicated." In this article, we will break down the existing and upcoming laws to help you understand how to legally acquire an AR-15 in Massachusetts.

Grandfather Clauses: Massachusetts Wheelhouse

In order to avoid scuffles with the supreme court that could jeopardize the existing unconstitutional gun control legislation in Massachusetts, the State has enacted multiple grandfather clauses regarding the possession of so called "assault weapons". While this article isn't intended to be a history lesson, understanding these clauses is a crucial factor in deciding which type of AR15 you would like to purchase.

The First Ban: September 13th, 1994

bill Clinton at a speech in 1994

The first significant restriction on AR-15 rifles was enacted on September 13, 1994. This ban focused on limiting certain "evil features" commonly found on an AR15, which include:

Evil Features
  • Pistol Grip

  • Bayonet Lug

  • Threaded Barrel/Flash Hider

  • Collapsible Stock

  • Foregrip

After this 1994 ban, new AR-15s could only have ONE of the above listed "evil features". However, AR-15s manufactured before September 13, 1994, were exempt and could possess multiple features, making them highly valuable as they are not limited by the ban's constraints. Additionally, They can be modified or have their parts swapped out in almost any configuration.

At Bay State Surplus, we do our best to stock Pre Ban AR15 rifles in the best condition at the best price. Click here to see what we have in stock!

The Second Ban: July 20th, 2016

Photo of maura healy at speech

On July 20, 2016, Attorney General Maura Healey issued an "enforcement notice" that broadened the definition of "assault weapons" in the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL). This clarification essentially banned new AR-15 rifles with detachable magazines, regardless of other features.

Yet again, there was a grandfather clause: AR-15s registered via the Massachusetts FA-10 form before July 20, 2016, were exempt.

While AR-15s manufactured post-ban must have permanently fixed magazines, one upside is that they are no longer tied to the limitations of the Assault Weapon Ban, meaning they can have as many "evil features" as they want.

a diagram of fixed mag lower receiever

Can I buy a New Stripped AR15 Lower in Massachusetts?

A Stripped Lower Receiver

While the enforcement notice prohibits new AR-15s with detachable magazines, Massachusetts does not technically classify a "receiver" as a firearm. Some dealers exploit this loophole to sell lower receivers, but buyers must opt for fixed magazine builds to remain compliant with the law.

The Newest Ban: No Grandfather Clause

"Stop Bill HD4420" Sign

Starting August 1, 2024, Massachusetts will introduce a comprehensive 125-page gun control law. Notably, this new legislation lacks a grandfather clause. Additionally, loopholes around frames and receivers will be closed. Residents possessing stripped lower receivers may find themselves in a legal conundrum.

Looking to track the latest news on Bill HD.4420 & Massachusetts gun laws? We have an active timeline documenting the progress of the bill (currently only compatible on desktop).

The Breakdown

While this is quite a lot of dates & small pieces of information to remember. We don't intend to feed you information with a fire hose, we just want to provide all of the information needed to make an informed purchasing decision. To help make it easier to compare and contrast, we have broken down the pros & cons of owning an AR15 during each of these ban periods.





> 9/13/1994 (grandfathered under first ban)

> 7/20/2016 (grandfathered under second ban)

7/20/2016 < Modern Compliant Build





"Evil Features"













Other Resources:

How do I know if my AR15 is an Assault Weapon?

We have created a short questionnaire containing questions about your theoretical AR15 build, by providing a few pieces of information. The quiz can quickly determine if your theoretical build is compliant or not. (keep in mind this quiz is not a lawyer, it is for entertainment purposes;)

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