Healey clears gun buyers

AG may still go after dealers for sales of banned assault weapons

ATTORNEY GENERAL MAURA HEALEY decided to allow those who bought nearly 2,300 assault weapons in Massachusetts to keep their new guns even though they were purchased after she ordered the sales stopped. But Healey has not backed away from her threat to levy criminal or civil sanctions against dealers who sold one of the banned assault weapons in defiance of her declaration that the “copycat” semi-automatic rifles are illegal under a 1998 state law.

“Our enforcement notice on Wednesday was very clear that it was effective immediately,” Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for Healey, said in a statement. “Gun dealers and manufacturers in Massachusetts are now on notice and our office will be watching for illegal sales of these copycat assault weapons. In light of the fact that many people apparently acted in the belief that they had until the end of the day on Wednesday to buy these weapons, our office will not take enforcement action under state law with regard to any transactions made by individual purchasers acting in good faith that were finalized on Wednesday, July 20.”

Healey’s announcement Wednesday triggered a gun-buying frenzy with gun enthusiasts flooding the state’s dealers to purchase more than 2,500 rifles, including 2,251 that Healey’s office says are defined as one of the banned assault weapons. She had said those who already owned or sold the guns prior to her order would not be subject to sanctions. There was apparent confusion as to when her order took effect, even though her statement and press conference said purchases and sales made “prior to July 20, 2016” would be exempt from the order.

Gov. Charlie Baker said he supports Healey’s decision and deferred to her as the arbiter to interpret the law. But he called on Healey to clarify her position so “law-abiding” gun owners can make sure they are not in violation of the statute.

“Given that her recent action potentially leaves tens of thousands of law abiding citizens open to criminal charges, I believe it is important to protect those who purchased firearms they understood to be legal on or before July 20th of this year,” Baker said in a statement. “I agree with the Attorney General that it would be unjust to prosecute those who simply sought to follow the law.”

But Healey is facing another potential dilemma. On Thursday, rifle sales dropped back to 266 in the state but more than half of those – 143 – appear to be the banned assault weapon types, although there are some exceptions. A spokeswoman said the office would be examining the sales to see if they are outside her order. The law calls for jail time up to two years and possible loss of license for those violating the ban.

Healey said she was taking the action because of the proliferation of such guns being used in spree shootings around the country and because of inaction by Congress in getting what she termed “weapons of war” off the streets. She said her decision is not a new law or interpretation but rather more rigid enforcement of the statute that specifically bans AK-47s and AR-15s as well as “copiers or duplicates.” She claims gun manufacturers make cosmetic or minor changes to copycats and declare the rifles are “Massachusetts compliant,” which she said is untrue.

Gun owners and dealers are planning a rally at the State House for Saturday morning, when the Legislature meets in a rare weekend session as the term comes to a close, in an effort to push lawmakers to overrule Healey and tighten up the language that classifies some single-shot rifles as assault weapons.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

(Clarification: This story and headline have been updated to more accurately reflect the Attorney General’s position.)

  • Johnny1959

    We are not going to the statehouse to get her to tighten up some language , you moron, were going , in the thousands, to fight her injustice ! Funny she feels compelled to do this only after a gay nightclub gets attack by an obvous mentally deranged Muslim.

    • Jack Sullivan

      Johnny, you need to hone your reading skills a little more. There is an “and” in there before that out-of-context statement you cited.

      • Johnny1959

        Sorry, your not a moron.

        • Jack Sullivan

          Thanks, though I’ve been called worse, sometimes by my kids and grandkids.

  • Chad Smith

    The AG should be removed from office. This is not only overreach, as the law’s language clearly defines what is compliant and what is not. Furthermore, it is a direct violation of both the Massachusetts and United States Constitution. If a Republican Governor will not stand up to this naked aggression towards our civil liberties, then what is the point of voting Republican in this state? So long as this policy shift stands I will not vote for any Republican in the State of Massachusetts nor donate to their campaign.

  • Kevin Nugent

    There’s an inaction by Congress , so I’ll stop the sale of compliant rifles the state has been aproving for decades, all on my own.Smells like infringement to me.

  • dkp59

    baker and healy both have to go. baker lied to the people of the commonwealth when he ran as a republican. healy Is just what you’d expect from a libtard.

  • tim for tools

    This fiasco caused by the lesbonic attorney general of Massachusetts,
    has been the real story all week. Forget the lame convention,
    Massachusetts is where the action has been. This despicable
    woman/tyrant has obliterated her credibility with her little Wednesday
    order from the queen, which caused 2300 patriots to go buy what she
    wagged her finger against. Disturbingly, the queen expected immediate obedience, but THAT didn’t
    happen, so she had to back off threatening the 2300 citizens. They got
    a pass, which was an open admission
    that her little edict from Wednesday is entirely without legal merit.
    BUT WHAT ABOUT THURSDAY? How many Massachusetts citizens went and
    bought what the queen said was verboten, on Thursday? Turns out 143 did.
    Well the plot thickens. So what is the disgusting queen going to do
    about those 143? Prosecute them all and cause a revolt, or give them a
    pass too, and further render her arbitrary edict meaningless?

    ….

    Like I said, THIS was the story of the week to watch.

    • DC

      see you tomorrow sir?

      • tim for tools

        I wish, I live in Utah.

        • DC

          lucky you.

  • Pingback: mASSachoo****z AG closes loophole and bans "Assault Rifle' - Page 4 - Hipoint Firearms Forums()

  • Helpurself

    LibTards are the best ” GUN SALES PERSONS ” lol

  • The_Jack

    “Healey said she was taking the action because of the proliferation of such guns being used in spree shootings around the country and because of inaction by Congress in getting what she termed “weapons of war” off the streets.”

    So… because of inaction she decided that a two decade old law actually banned a whole bunch of guns that several of her predecessors never thought were banned.

    And no one in the federal government thought were banned when the federal law was active.

    Right.

    As the article notes
    “her declaration that the “copycat” semi-automatic rifles are illegal under a 1998 state law.
    ….
    tighten up the language that classifies some single-shot rifles as assault weapons.””

    So… yeah, weapons of war. Are single shot rifles?

    Right.

  • Guy Flatley

    sad these people want to tell you how THEY intrepid the laws , you took an oath to up hold the Constitution now you feel as though your the new king of Massachusetts , traitors back in 1770 were hung , remember a shot was fired that was heard around world came from that state, maybe it is time for the second shot .

  • Obie

    “But Healey is facing another potential dilemma. On Thursday, rifle sales dropped back to 266 in the state but more than half of those – 143 – appear to be the banned assault weapon types, although there are some exceptions. A spokeswoman said the office would be examining the sales to see if they are outside her order. The law calls for jail time up to two years and possible loss of license for those violating the ban.”

    First of all, violating the ban provides a 10 years prison term. Second, referencing other issues in the AG’s advisory, it’s refers to activity BEFORE and activity AFTER July 20th, but nothing about activity ON July 20th.

    Moreover, pursuant to M.G.L. Ch. 140, s. 128A (via 129C) and 128B, a licensed gun seller or owner has seven days from the date of transfer or acquisition of the firearm to report the transfer. So it’s possible most, if not all, those transfers of so-called “assault weapons” performed up until this coming Tuesday are entirely lawful. Some people have even unnecessarily registered stripped lowers that aren’t even considered firearms under state law.

    But despite all this, prepare for harassment from the AG’s office. Once again, evidence that gun laws only effect law abiding people who play by the government’s rules.

  • Bill Chadwick

    The laws on semi-auto firearms and what accessory items are allowed or not (like collapsible stocks, front pistol grips etc.) has been crystal clear for many years. Scores of MFGs and hundreds of gun dealers have invested huge amounts of money to followed brutal MA regulations to operate, http://www.mass.gov/…/fir…/large-capacity-roster-06-2011.pdf – The Atty. Generals action is arbitrary and capricious!! Besides being a headline grabbing ploy during the Republican convention. It is time for the governor and legislature to ACT to protect the taxpaying citizens and hundreds of small businesses who are now in limbo with hundreds of thousands if not millions in paid inventory because of our Atty. General’s dictatorial action.

  • Bill Chadwick

    The Atty. Generals action is arbitrary and capricious!! Besides being a headline grabbing ploy during the Republican convention. It is time for the governor and legislature to ACT. To protect the taxpaying citizens and hundreds of small businesses who are now in limbo with hundreds of thousands if not millions in paid inventory because of our Atty. General’s dictatorial action. The laws on semi-auto firearms and what accessory items are allowed or not (like collapsible stocks, front pistol grips etc.) has been crystal clear for many years. Scores of MFGs and hundreds of gun dealers have invested huge amounts of money to followed brutal MA regulations to operate, http://www.mass.gov/…/fir…/large-capacity-roster-06-2011.pdf

  • davidvoth

    Maura Healey is as impotent as she is incompetent. The physical characteristics of a firearm that classify it as an “assault weapon” are clearly laid out in the law. Any firearm that does not have the requisite characteristics is not a Massachusetts assault weapon.

    The people MUST NOT tolerate elected employees operating outside the bounds of their constitutionally granted powers.

  • Bill the Cat

    Pretty sad that those who are sworn to uphold the Constitution continue to ignore it.

  • Johnny1959

    What’s to stop the libtard said from banning handguns as they are responsible for thousands of our inner city Utes? Rifles account for like 7 murders in this commiewealth since 2010, the rest are handguns.

  • Richard Orlick

    Of what laws this gun ban violates here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, first start with The Massachusetts Bill of Rights that has supremacy over lower laws and rulings, it explains…

    Article I. All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

    Along with all of us being free and equal, we have certain natural, essential, and unalienable Rights that belong to each individual, they do not belong to a body politic or government but each and every citizen who is subject to the jurisdiction thereof. This extends not only to the enjoyment of our individual lives and liberties but also defending our lives and liberties, not only possessing our property but also protecting our property. No body politic or government shall infringe on certain natural, essential, and unalienable Rights, as it is unlawful to do so.

    Each individual, not the body politic or government is therefore obliged to…

    Article X. Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary…

    This is a right that belongs to each individual of our society and an obligation to citizenship in our society. This does not belong to a body politic or government but each and every citizen who is subject to the jurisdiction thereof. Therefore…

    Article XVII. The people have a right to keep and to bear arms for the common defence. And as, in time of peace, armies are dangerous to liberty, they ought not to be maintained without the consent of the legislature; and the military power shall always be held in an exact subordination to the civil authority, and be governed by it.

    If our certain natural, essential, and unalienable Rights therein are taken from us, what would we have in its place, a standing army owned by the body politic or government with no subordination to the civil authority or governed by it, and we are almost there.

    We must not only stop the unconstitutional taking of our Rights by unlawful dictators, we must also undo the damage done thus far,,,

  • cieran58

    Given the unlawful nature of this “reinterpretation” of existing infringements on your rights, it is necessary for Massachusetts citizens to stand with those of Connecticut and New York and say– “I WILL NOT COMPLY ! ”
    Registration and banning is already here, confiscation is next. Resist tyranny.