Downing backs Healey’s gun notice

Pittsfield senator says AG in line with law's intent

What follows is a statement Sen. Ben Downing of Pittsfield posted on his office website.

Many of my constituents have asked about my position on Attorney General Healey’s recent “Enforcement Notice” on the Massachusetts Assault Weapons Ban. In the time since the Attorney General made the announcement, I have researched the statute under which the Attorney General acted, along with other relevant precedent and legal history. Based on that research, I fully support Attorney General Healey’s actions.

The goal of the 1998 Assault Weapons Ban was to restrict access to a certain type of firearm because of the particular lethality of these guns. The legislation also recognized that simple changes to peripheral features of such guns could skirt the law, which is why Chapter 140, Section 121 of the Massachusetts General Laws explicitly prohibits the sale of “copies or duplicates of the weapons, of any caliber.” Given that, I believe the actions of the Attorney General are in line with the original legislation’s intent and are within the office’s statutory authority as the state’s top law enforcement official.

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I further understand that the Attorney General’s enforcement notice is a notification of her office’s intention to enforce the law prospectively, and that it will not be used retroactively to prosecute anyone who has bought or sold such weapons prior to July 20 of this year.

I respect the rights of law-abiding sportsmen in my district. I respect the laws of the Commonwealth. Copycat assault weapons marketed as “state compliant” are designed specifically to circumvent the laws of the Commonwealth and are a threat to our public safety. I believe that the Attorney General’s action respects both the letter of the law and the Second Amendment rights of our hunters and sportsmen.

Ben Downing is the cochair of the Legislature’s Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee.