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Getting a gun license: a primer

To get a gun license in Massachusetts, an applicant must take a safety course and apply at their local police department. Local and state officials run criminal background checks.

There are four levels of legal gun ownership in Massachusetts. They range from a Class A "license to carry," which can allow the owner to carry a concealed handgun, rifle, or shotgun with a large capacity for ammunition; a Class B "license to carry," which applies to handguns that carry less ammunition, and large capacity rifles and shotguns; an unrestricted Firearms Identification card, which applies to nonlarge capacity rifles and shotguns; and a restricted firearm identification card, which allows the owner to carry a chemical repellent.

The most popular are Class As, which account for about 80 percent.

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