Massachusetts Gun Dealers Feeling Assault Weapon Crackdown

"Massachusetts compliant" copycat gun ban on AR-15

Massachusetts Sued Over Gun Laws

While people’s attention was diverted by the Republican National Convention in Ohio, Massachusetts quietly implemented a new gun restriction that bans “copycat assault weapons.”

The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent out a notice on July 20 that the sale of assault weapons is illegal in Massachusetts. A ban on assault weapons is already in place in the state, but manufacturers have gotten around it by selling state-compliant guns without some of the characteristics that would cause a gun to be banned.

Now Healey is saying that any gun with an operating system or interchangeable parts that are the same as that of a banned gun is also banned. Healey’s notice described the AR-15 as an assault weapon of mass murder that does not belong in the hands of civilians. The letter announced that Healey’s office would be “Stepping up” enforcement of the already-in-place ban. Healey stated that the updated guidelines would not be applied to any weapons bought or sold prior to July 20, 2016.

According to Healey’s own words, 10,000 weapons similar to the AR-15, which was used in the deadly Orlando nightclub shooting, were sold in Massachusetts last year. It’s not clear if Healey’s directive will have much impact on the laws that are already in place, but it could make her appear to be “tough on guns” in advance of a presumed run for the governor’s office in 2018.

Gun dealers in Massachusetts however, are already reporting an impact. The Framingham MetroWest Daily News reports that demand is surging for guns following the news of the directive. Greg Malaney, owner of GFA ArmsTec, a licensed firearms dealer, was flooded with customers because he had only until midnight the next night following the announcement on July 20 to move his stock.

The report says Malany found out about the Massachusetts ban on copycat assault weapons around the same time his customers did and he was “swarmed” when he showed up for work the next morning as dozens of people lined up outside the shop to make final purchases before the crackdown went into effect at midnight. From the report:

“We didn’t get any kind of notice,” [Malaney] said. “It was decided unbeknownst to anybody. … As a result, everybody putting off their purchases or who wanted to have one of these firearms had to buy them while they still could. Unfortunately what seems to be lacking in the Attorney General’s Office is either common sense or respect for gun dealers and owners.”

When contacted by email, Healey’s press secretary, Jillian Fennimore, did not respond to a questions as to why the crackdown was instituted suddenly.