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Massachusetts Attorney General Unilaterally Bans Thousands of Previously Legal Guns

Friday, July 22, 2016

(Naples Gun School) Massachusetts Attorney General Unilaterally Bans Thousands of Previously Legal Guns

On July 19, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued an “enforcement notice” that greatly expands the Commonwealth’s definition of “assault weapon.”  AG Healey alleges that the ban’s definition of “copy” or “duplicate” “assault weapons” has been misinterpreted for the last 18 years and she is simply the first law enforcement official to discover this incorrect interpretation.  Unfortunately for AG Healey, the history of Massachusetts’ ban on “assault weapons” makes perfectly clear exactly which types of firearms the legislature intended to ban.

The Massachusetts ban on “assault weapons” was first passed in 1998 and included a provision that made the intent of the ban clear.  That provision provides that the term “assault weapon” “shall have the same meaning as a semiautomatic assault weapon as defined in the federal Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act [of 1994]. . . .”  By copying the federal definition of an “assault weapon” the legislature showed clear intent to prohibit exactly those firearms that at the time were already prohibited under federal law. 

By 1998, the federal ban on “assault weapons” had been in effect for nearly four years, and almost from day one of the federal ban, manufacturers were producing the “compliant” rifles that AG Healey is now targeting.  Massachusetts legislators in 1998 were well aware of these compliant rifles, yet they chose not to alter their legislation to prohibit those rifles when they simply enacted a copy of the federal ban.  It’s hard to imagine a more clear-cut example of legislative intent. 

Beyond AG Healey’s obviously incorrect interpretation of the law, her enforcement notice fails to provide an intelligible definition of what will be considered an “assault weapon” by her office.   The enforcement notice provides only the following test to determine if a firearm is a “copy” or “duplicate” “assault weapon” and therefore banned:

A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate and is therefore a prohibited Assault weapon if it meets one or both of the following tests and is 1) a semiautomatic rifle or handgun that was manufactured or subsequently configured with an ability to accept a detachable magazine, or 2) a semiautomatic shotgun.

  1. Similarity Test: A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate if its internal functional components are substantially similar in construction and configuration to those of an Enumerated Weapon. Under this test, a weapon is a Copy or Duplicate, for example, if the operating system and firing mechanism of the weapon are based on or otherwise substantially similar to one of the Enumerated Weapons.
  2. Interchangeability Test: A weapon is a Copy or Duplicate if it has a receiver that is the same as or interchangeable with the receiver of an Enumerated Weapon. A receiver will be treated as the same as or interchangeable with the receiver on an Enumerated Weapon if it includes or accepts two or more operating components that are the same as or interchangeable with those of an Enumerated Weapon. Such operating components may include, but are not limited to: 1) the trigger assembly; 2) the bolt carrier or bolt carrier group; 3) the charging handle; 4) the extractor or extractor assembly; or 5) the magazine port.

These tests seem intended to give little in the way of actual notice to gun owners while giving the AG’s office unlimited flexibility in enforcing the ban.  The “similarity test” could foreseeably encompass nearly all semi-automatic rifles because the “Enumerated Weapons” include rifles with the most common types of semi-automatic operating systems.  Even if that test weren’t interpreted so broadly, the “interchangeability test” would still capture many common rifles because newer firearm designs are often built using compatible parts from popular firearms to take advantage of the large aftermarket of magazines, trigger groups, and other components available for popular semi-automatic rifles.

Likely in an attempt to limit public uproar over her unilateral rewrite of the Massachusetts “assault weapon” ban, AG Healey notes that her new “enforcement notice” “will not be applied to possession, ownership or transfer of an Assault weapon obtained prior to July 20, 2016.” 

No explanation is given for how the definition of an “assault weapon” can change as it applies to individual possession, ownership, and transfer versus sales of new firearms by licensed dealers, but AG Healey was already on such a roll avoiding any use of logic that this legal contortion probably didn’t seem like such a stretch. 

However, the guidance is very clear that AG Healey “reserves the right to alter or amend this guidance”, so it’s possible that the AG’s new “interpretation” will soon apply to individual possession of previously compliant firearms.  NRA is still assessing all legal and legislative options to protect the rights of Massachusetts gun owners.  Stay tuned.

Source: https://www.nraila.org/articles/20160722/massachusetts-attorney-general-unilaterally-bans-thousands-of-previously-legal-guns

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Reviews

Naples Gun School - 5 stars Great class!! There was a lot more hands on instruction than the class that I had in Tennessee. David was knowledgeable and entertaining. Good insights on Florida law. My wife will be taking the class shortly. Thanks David. Kevin 9/15/2018

  I thoroughly enjoyed the concealed weapons class on 8/11/18. The class went beyond my expectations. Dave you are an awesome instructor and made the class fun. I would highly recommend Naples Gun Shopping and School! Thanks for sharing your knowledge! - Teresa Cannon

David is an excellent instructor. The class is excellent and exceeded my expectations with information on the laws of Florida, and as well to carry properly, load the weapons as well as placement of holding weapons. If your looking to buy a weapon he is the man to go to. I personally bought my firearm from. - Carlos Casiano

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Martha Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  This was a very good class. I did not have to take it, as I am a Veteran, however it is a good idea. I learned a lot about Florida Law I did not know. It will in the long run help keep you out of trouble. David was very patient with my wife when we live fired, because she has arthritis and had a hard time pulling the trigger in double action mode. Good Job David thanks so much..Joseph Hohenthaner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  The class was engaging and as fast paced as it can be. The instructor was knowledgeable and worked well with a class spanning all the levels of experience and age you can imagine. I also felt it was fairly priced, especially as you just had to bring yourself and an ID - all other supplies were, er, supplied.Cliff Elam 

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  Naples Gun Shop & School gets an A+ in my book! David and Ginny were great. I took the CWP class today 7/21/18. Both are extremely knowledgeable and easy to talk to. David is one of the best instructors that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I highly recommend Naples Gun Shop & School. Best prices, Great training, and easy to deal with. I will definitely be returning to do further business. Thank you David & Ginny....see you soon!Nicholas Lupo

Naples Gun School - 5 stars  I've been a repeat customer for FFL transfers with Naples Gun School for quite some time. Dave's customer service and knowledge are second to none. After speaking with Dave for a few moments, you start to feel as if you have known him for quite a while. I look forward to continuing my business when the new location opens. - Robert Boyette

I really enjoyed the class yesterday, and it was very nice to meet David and Ginny. David is very knowledgeable, helpful, and best of all: has a sense of humor. I was more nervous than I thought I would be because this was the first time in my life that I've ever shot a semi-automatic weapon. David lives and breathes this stuff and his presence and ease with weapons was very calming for me when I was at the range. Ginny was also very supportive throughout the whole class. Thank you guys so much! It's a pleasure and I will be back to purchase supplies from you! - Shenandoah Webb

Naples Gun School - 5 starsTook the 3/31/18 class and loved it! Dave was very informative and his laid back teaching style made the 4 hour class fly by. Would recommend this class to anyone interested in a CWP. Thanks Dave and Ginny! - Kelly Gardner

Naples Gun School - 5 stars I’d like to thank The Naples Gun School for the time and effort they took in order to help me become a more responsible hand gun owner. By taking your CCWP class on 3.31.2018, I’m honestly a better person today than I was yesterday. Your course is not only interesting, but informative as well. The time we had together flew by. Throughout the whole process, they were calm and patient with every student. Especially after everyone seemed to drop their cartridges on the floor during the revolver training portion of the program. I highly recommend Naples Gun School to anyone that’s interested in becoming a CCWP holder. And I definitely will use their services by purchasing all my gun needs through their establishment. David & Ginny, thank you so much. I had a wonderful time!Chris Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars This class kept me very interested, informed and didn’t even realize 4 hours went by! Would recommend everyone to take this class! - Douglas Shaffer

Naples Gun School - 5 stars - Lurybella Lora Trejo

 

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