A rural Western Massachusetts city is second only to Boston in the number of residents authorized to carry rifles and shotguns.
As of July, the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services reported that there are 390 people with active Firearms Identification Cards (FID Cards) in Westfield.
Boston has 620 registered FID cardholders.
To own a rifle or shotgun in Massachusetts, you need an FID card. To carry a handgun, you need a *license to carry (LTC). The FID card allows a person, age 15 or older, to carry non-large capacity rifles, shotguns, and ammunition. The cards and licenses are granted by local chiefs of police and can be revoked over safety concerns. For a first-time license, an applicant has to attend a gun-safety training course.
Going by the number of FID cards issued per municipality, the following is a list of communities with the most armed citizenry in Massachusetts. For context, the municipality’s approximate population is included in parenthesis ().:
Boston - 620 active FID card licenses, (692,000 population)
Westfield - 390, (41,200)
Plymouth - 335, (61,500)
Worcester - 310, (185,400)
Barnstable - 262, (44,400)
Chicopee - 262, (55,100)
Springfield - 256, (153,600)
Taunton - 242, (57,400)
Agawam - 217, (28,600)
Pittsfield - 217, (42,100)
Leominster - 216, (41,700)
Falmouth - 198, (30,900).
The Hampshire County community with the most FID-carrying gun-owners is Belchertown with 169 active FID cards (population 15,000).
People choose to own guns for a variety of reasons, the most common being personal protection, according to a 2019 Pew Research study. Other reasons to own a gun are for hunting, sport, work, collecting, and crime.
About 3 in 10 U.S. adults say they own a gun.
Gun ownership is surging in America, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The number of guns sold has already outpaced last year, WWLP reported. The increase is coming from first-time buyers, women and black men.
For more information about FID cards and how many cards have been issued in your town, visit the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Services online.
* This article has been updated to reflect that a person must have an FID card or an LTC to carry a firearm in Massachusetts. The LTC was not mentioned previously.
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