Fifty-eight Massachusetts lawmakers — both Democratic and Republican — signed a letter to state Attorney General Maura Healey (D) condemning her July 20 issuance of a directive expanding the state’s nearly 20-year-old “assault weapons” ban.
Healey’s directive means the ban on firearms with certain cosmetic features — “flash suppressors and folding or telescoping stocks” — also includes those that lack such features. The result is that firearms gun manufacturers reworked to achieve state compliance cannot be sold in Massachusetts any longer. And the 58 lawmakers who signed the letter argue that Healey’s changes actually constitute a “whole new law,” which is something they suggest she lacks the authority to do.
According to the Telegram, the letter was spearheaded by House Minority Leader Brad Jones (R) and Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R). In total, all 40 Republican lawmakers signed it, as did 18 Democrats — “four in the Senate and 14 in the House.”
The letter said, “We are particularly concerned that your Enforcement Notice was issued unilaterally, with very little, if any, advance notice for licensed gun dealers and lawful gun owners to adequately prepare for this new interpretation of the 1998 assault weapons law.” Breitbart News pointed to this same issue on July 25 when we reported that gun stores across the state could face financial ruin because of Healey’s actions. Gun store owners said the abruptness of Healey’s action coupled with the lack of clarity regarding which semiautomatic rifles — if any — remain legal to sell, has them in a lurch.
The 58 lawmakers who sent the letter to Healey made it clear that they wish she had pursued the gun control by asking the legislature to take it up and debate it, either passing or rejecting it, whatever the case may be. As it stands, House Minority Leader Jones believes Healey’s actions betray political calculations that have been in the works for some time.
She should have proposed legislation and said, “here is the problem, we want to solve this problem.” We’ve had attorney generals of her party — and she’s worked in the AG’s office — and this wasn’t an issue. We had eight years of a Democratic governor and this wasn’t an issue, and we just did a major gun bill in 2014 and this issue wasn’t debated. This seems much more politically calculated to take advantage of the moment, if you will, of some of the tragedies that have unfolded nationally or beyond.
It is interesting to note that Healey did mention tragedies around the country when issuing her directive. She cited murderous attacks at the Aurora movie theater, Sandy Hook Elementary, San Bernardino, and Pulse Orlando. But she did not point to any murders with AR-15s, AK-47s, or other rifles in Massachusetts. And according to FBI stats, that is because there were no murders with rifles of any kind in Massachusetts during the whole of 2104, the most recent year on record for FBI crime stats.
AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.