Gather ’round dear readers, I’m going to tell you about the time I had to smuggle (kinda) a gun across the (state) border. Everything I’m about to tell you is true, and all of it was 100% legal, but it was sketchy as all get out – like running guns across the border. So without any further ado, let me tell you the tale of:
The Shit I went Through to Get a Freaking 10/22
Our story begins, as all good stories do, with a closed gun range. Now you may be asking yourself, why does this make for a good story? Well, because it means that I was in the mood for something gun-related, and I couldn’t get my fix by dumping 500 rounds downrange. I got to thinking, I really want a 10/22. Just a nice plinking rifle. But, alas, I could not get a 10/22. As I have mentioned previously, I have a non-resident license in Massachusetts. That means I can bring in any gun I want (barring “assault weapons”) but can’t buy guns or ammo in the commonwealth.
As I sat at my computer a little lightbulb went off in my head. Why not New Hampshire? New Hampshire doesn’t give a crap if I’m not a resident, so long as the long gun I’m buying is legal in my home state.
I was an idiot.
- All handguns must be transferred from an FFL dealer to the customer in the state of the customer’s residence.
- Long guns can be purchased and transferred to a resident of any state in any state provided that the transfer is legal in both the purchaser’s state and the state in which the transfer is taking place.
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance
Just to be sure, I called ahead to the easiest gun store to reach across the New Hampshire state line. The conversation went something like this;
“Hi I’m Benjamin F, I’m a Virginia resident and I’d like to buy a long gun at your guys’ store. That’s okay right?”
“I thought that Federal law-”
“Federal law yeah, but this close to Massachusetts we can’t really run the risk. Store policy.”
I had something along the lines of this conversation, and I am not exaggerating, 15 times. I called just about every single FFL within 10 miles of the New Hampshire state line, and those few occasions where I was not flatly told no, they were selling used stock 10/22 Sporters for upwards of $300. Just as I was about to give up hope, salvation.
“Sure thing man, no problem. When do you think you’ll swing through?”
I had found where I wanted to go. Now I just had to get there.
One problem with getting to New Hampshire from Boston. I don’t have a car. See: poor college student. So I do what any self-respecting urbanite would do. I start planning my journey on public transportation. Problem. There is no public transportation that goes all the way to New Hampshire. However, the train gets very close. I had the beginnings of a plan in my head and so, without any further hesitation, I set out to buy a new gun. Literally 30 minutes after I got the green light from the FFL, I was on a train bound for the (state) border.
To avoid any awkward questions, I planned to stuff my new rifle and hard case into a neon yellow duffel bag, which I transported in my backpack. As everybody knows, neon yellow is the most subtle and least eye-catching of colors. It was perfect for my plan to transport a firearm across half of Massachusetts.
Crossing the Rio Pequeno, or as the natives called it the “Merrimack River” was the easiest part of my journey. From here on out, I would have to be very careful to avoid Los Federales (the Massachusetts State Police). Not because I was doing anything illegal, I hasten to add, but because well let’s be honest. It looks illegal as all get out.
Once off the train, I had to contact a Coyote (uber driver) to get me across the border safely. Finding the Coyote was easy, convincing him to take me across the New Hampshire state line was… also really easy. I felt comforted by the fact that I knew my editor Pete was there in spirit. As well as physically. Behind a suppressed rifle. Watching my every move.
Love you, Pete.
The Promised Land
Soon we had crossed into the promised land, New Hampshire. Where the gun laws make sense and the sales tax doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, I had come from Massachusetts, where the rules are made up and the sales tax is really high. So it was with a heavy heart that I redacted these wonderful men’s information so that the Wicked Witch of the Northeast (Maura Healey) can’t send them a threatening letter (Firearms, Not Politics).
But enough of that morose crap. You guys want to see guns! Here is their selection of 22 rifles. Not bad huh? After fingering all of the 10/22 triggers, checking the resets and seeing which if any felt ever so slightly better than the others, I went with the cheapest one they had. I’m still a poor college student, and two uber rides and a round trip on the train wasn’t cheap. For the curious, it’s the one with the pink sign on it.
A quick run half a mile down the road to the nearest ATM so I could get the cash discount, a 4473 check, some idle chatting with the folks at the counter later, and I’m ready to go. Time to open up my handy dandy urban camouflage neon yellow duffel bag…
Crap. Well, that doesn’t fit. Still, it’s ever so slightly better than carrying a rifle hard case through the middle of Boston.
The Journey Home
Now came the hard part. Getting my shiny new rifle home without being bothered by the Massachusetts State or Boston PD. Again, 100% legal, but anyone who’s had to deal with a Massachusetts State Trooper or a Boston Police Officer can tell you they aren’t exactly… friendly.
It was at this point that the other TFB staff started discussing who had dibs on my (meager) gun collection in the event I got disappeared. I sent them this picture and politely told them to keep their goddamn hands off my raifu even if I got disappeared. A question was raised about who among them would actually want a 10/22, which I think is ridiculous.
Once I was off the train I stopped to grab some victory groceries. They’re very similar to normal groceries, but you hum the A-Team theme song while purchasing them and have a rifle case in a yellow duffel bag slung across your back. Although since at this point it was around 9:30 at night in the middle of Boston, I was probably the least weird person in the convenience store.
Mission accomplished. Total time from thinking “hey I should buy a gun” to physically possessing the gun, almost 10 full hours. Give or take about 20 minutes. I don’t know precisely, my phone was at about 2% battery by the time I stumbled home and I was exhausted.
Lessons Learned – Running Guns With TFB
If anyone tells you “non-resident permits are way better than resident permits in Massachusetts” they are either lying or have a car. Additionally, there are a lot of FFLs within a hop skip and a jump of the New Hampshire state border that are scared stiff of Massachusetts.
Next time I’m begging for a ride.