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Massachusetts Bans Sale of All Assault Weapons

The State of Massachusetts has banned the sale of all new “assault weapons” (the term used in the announcement, not ours) effectively immediately. The new law was announced today by the Massachusetts Attorney General in an op-ed column published approximately 12:30pm EST in the Boston Globe. The new ban is intended to more effectively enforce Massachusetts laws that currently mirror the federal ban that expired back in 2004*. It will not affect previously purchased firearms.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey  explains why she enacted the ban, focusing on that most ubiquitously evil of all rifles, the AR-15, citing her moral obligation and legal authority to do something “…protect people from gun violence.”

[The AR-15 is] a weapon of war, originally created for combat, and designed to kill many people in a short amount of time with incredible accuracy. It’s in the same category as weapons chosen by killers in Newtown, Aurora, and San Bernardino. These are not weapons of self-defense. They are weapons used to commit mass murder. And they have no business being in civilian hands.

She did not explain how additional laws would help keep people inclined to break laws from breaking laws, nor did she address how banning rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47 would reduce crimes committed with illegally acquired handguns, but pragmatism and practicality have never been a particular concern for gun control advocates (not any more than constitutionality).

Massachusetts Bans Sale of All Assault Weapons

The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific weapons like the Colt AR-15 and AK-47 and explicitly bans “copies or duplicates” of those weapons. But gun manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to define what a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon is. They market “state compliant” copycat versions of their assault weapons to Massachusetts buyers. They sell guns without a flash suppressor or folding or telescoping stock, for example, small tweaks that do nothing to limit the lethalness of the weapon.

That will end now. On Wednesday, we are sending a directive to all gun manufacturers and dealers that makes clear that the sale of these copycat assault weapons is illegal in Massachusetts. With this directive, we will ensure we get the full protection intended when lawmakers enacted our assault weapons ban, not the watered-down version of those protections offered by gun manufacturers.

Massachusetts AG Maura Healey

Image courtesy of

Healey's pro-gun control stance is neither new nor a surprise, though the new law was. She spoke at the White House back in May on the subject of gun violence, quoting a number of children who wrote her letters asking her to address the violence that “…plagues their neighborhoods”, though she did not offer any information on which part of that violence was perpetrated by AR-15s, AK-47s and their “clones.”  She also took that opportunity to address her intention to bring physicians into the gun control process.

This is a public health issue, and those of us in law enforcement need to work closely with the public health community to address it. Health care providers talk with patients and parents about alcohol and drug use, seatbelts, putting up safety gates, and covering electrical outlets. Well, I think they should be asking about guns in the home – and issues of mental health in the home – too.

Guns are among the most dangerous products out there, yet some states are trying to prevent doctors from talking with their patients about them.

So our office is teaming up with the medical community. Last month, we launched a partnership with the Massachusetts Medical Society to create first-of-its-kind guidance for doctors on how to talk with patients about gun safety. When we’re done, providers will have information at their fingertips to counsel patients who have a gun – or are concerned about a gun – in their home.

You can read the Boston Globe metro story here. The full text of her announcement can be found here.

*The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, a part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. It expired in September of 2004.

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