State Requirements for Certified Firearms Safety Courses

Senator Brownsberger has been corresponding with the State Police to learn more about the requirements for certified firearms safety courses in the Commonwealth and has learned the following:

As you can see in the application for certification as a basic firearms safety course instructor,  to become a certified course instructor, you must be an instructor in one of the following categories:

(a) A firearms instructor of the NRA, or other nationally recognized organization that teaches firearms safety, or a firearms instructor certified by such organization.

(b) A federal, state or municipal law enforcement firearms instructor.

(c) A United States military firearms instructor.

(d) A division of law enforcement basic hunter education instructor.

(e) A firearms instructor for the MCJTC, or a firearms instructor certified by such academy.

As indicated on the application, the state’s policy allows for certification of individuals not identified above, subject to the discretion of the Colonel of the State Police. In practice, however, the State Police legislative liaison told us that this rarely, if ever, happens.

Applications are due to the Firearms Licensing division of the State Police, and the Colonel of the State Police certifies individuals as firearms safety instructors, as provided for by Section 131P (b) of Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

Massachusetts laws do not require course instructors to demonstrate any particular level of knowledge  of state and federal gun laws, but firearms safety courses must include “the applicable laws relating to the possession, transportation and storage of firearms.”

There is no upper limit on class size in firearm safety courses.

While there is no set way to evaluate a student enrolled in a firearm safety course, most students are required to pass both a written test and a hands-on evaluation. Course curriculum must include the following: “(a) the safe use, handling and storage of firearms; (b) methods for securing and childproofing firearms; (c) the applicable laws relating to the possession, transportation and storage of fireams; and (d) knowledge of operation, potential dangers and basic competency in the ownership and usage of firearms.” To receive a basic firearms safety certificate from a certified firearms safety instructor, a person must meet the minimum requirements of their course, including “demonstrated competency in the use of firearms.”

The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security lists 22 L.T.C. (License to Carry) Basic Firarms Safety Course, as well as three Firearms Identification Card Basic Firearm Safety Courses. 3900 course instructors are currently certified by the state; most are former police officers.

Additional rules governing firearm safety courses can be found in 515 CMR 3.00, regulations promulgated by the Colonel of the State Police, as provided in Section 131P (b) of Chapter 140 of the Massachusetts General Laws.

We invite you to share your thoughts in the forum on gun safety at

Anne Johnson Landry
Committee Counsel and Policy Advisor
Office of State Senator William N. Brownsberger

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Will Brownsberger
State Senator
2d Suffolk and Middlesex District