IS YOUR STATE REP OR SENATOR ON THIS LIST?
The list is at the bottom of this page. This post explains the letter. This is the second in a series of posts about our Attorney General’s efforts to enforce Massachusetts’s assault weapons ban and clamp down on the sale of copycat weapons cable of the same type of shootings that have filled the headlines lately.
Let’s thank Maura Healey.
In April 2016, after a succession of murders across the country, MA Attorney General Maura Healey announced she was closing a loophole that gun dealers and manufacturers were using to sell banned assault weapons in MA. She sent a directive to all gun dealers and manufacturers in the state, (see our previous post about what Healey did and why.)
On July 25, 2016, fifty-eight state senators and representatives signed a letter, sent it to Healey and released it to the press. The letter took Healey to task for her unilateral decision to enforce the law.
As explained in our previous post, Healey recognized that in the years since the assault weapons ban, gun manufacturers and sellers had creatively tweaked banned assault weapons and sold them as legal.
Healey chose to close the loophole within her purview. If you have watched any of the videos* taken by the students in FL during the attack on Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, FL, you get a real sense of the horror these assault weapons inflict. Regardless of the tweaks made to these assault weapons, they remained capable of this kind of mass killing, as they were originally intended, thus they must be prohibited in MA. The law requires it.
The letter from legislators questioned Healey’s decision to enforce the law, abruptly, asking what had changed. She had already made that clear; she was acting in response to the mass killings to date, most recently, at the time, the Pulse Nightclub murders. She acknowledged that the loopholes had evolved and had to be closed to protect MA residents.
We appreciate that she considered the safety of the whole over the inconvenience of a few. On the other hand, the letter from fifty-eight legislators opposing her actions, seems to demonstrate that these legislators are more concerned about that inconvenience of the few while favoring the NRA, its local affiliate Gun Owners Action League (GOAL) over the safety of all:
We are particularly concerned that your Enforcement Notice was issued unilaterally, with very little, if any, advance notice for licensed gun dealers and lawful gun owners to adequately prepare for this new interpretation of the 1998 assault weapons law.
Imagine the increase in sales if Healey had given advance notice. There would be a run on these guns as the NRA, GOAL and the gun manufacturers who provide the organization financial support, would warn gun owners that the enforcement was coming and to buy guns before it went into effect.
Additionally, the legislators’ letter stated they wanted to address the law via their legislative process.
We want to be clear that we are not opposed to revisiting the state’s gun laws periodically to ensure that they are up-to-date and being properly enforced. However, we believe strongly that any such review should be accompanied by a rigorous debate of the Legislature, with full public input, before any changes are made to ensure that lawful gun owners have a clear understanding of the law and how it will be enforced.
Again, if the legislature were to “revisit” MA gun laws, sales for these assault weapons would take off while the typically long – sometimes two-year – legislative process played out. During the process the NRA and GOAL would use their money, influence and membership to apply pressure on legislators. Gun-owners, dealers, and manufacturers would publicly and repeatedly declare any clarifications in the law as a violation of their Second Amendment rights.
A statement released by Healey’s spokeswoman Jillian Fennimore, took issue with the legislators’ letter:
As our Enforcement Notice made clear, copycat assault weapons are illegal and have been in Massachusetts since 1998. For far too long, the gun industry has been allowed to flout our state assault ban. Claims that we are changing the law and taking guns away from law-abiding citizens are inaccurate and misinformed. Our office will continue to work with the gun industry, including manufacturers and dealers, so they understand the law and comply with it.
Recently, Boston police arrested a 70-year-old man with an assault rifle and 350 rounds of ammunition. According to the Boston Globe, he told police he needed the firepower to guard against “jihadists on the highway,” court records show.
In another Globe article about this arrest, Boston Police Commissioner Paul William B. Evans was quoted, “There is no need for any citizen in the city of Boston to be carrying high powered weapons of this kind, and there are just too many of these guns out there.”
Evans is just one of many who supports Healey’s directive.
Yet the legislators who signed this letter want to slow the process of closing the loopholes that allowed more of these weapons on our streets, declaring in their letter, predictably, an infringement of “the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners in Massachusetts.”
The rights of the rest of us to be safe is not mentioned, nor is the fact that these weapons are designed to kill many, quickly. Public safety was and is Healey’s priority. Furthermore, if someone were to buy one of these weapons and commit mass murder here in MA, she would be held accountable for not enforcing the law.
From the start, Healey acknowledge publicly that she expected a law suit from gun-industry lobbyists and she was ready to defend her position in court. A suit was filed and recently a judge ruled that it could move forward.
Some of the legislators who signed this letter have also sponsored bills to remove the enforcement and oversight of these laws from the Attorney General’s purview, and to make these guns that have had these minor tweaks, legal. These bills will be the subject of our a future post in this series.
Meanwhile the NRA and GOAL have filed a lawsuit that not only challenges Healey’s directive to enforce MA’s assault weapons ban, it actually goes further and seeks to overturn the our assault weapons ban, altogether. The lawsuit is subject of our next post in this series.
Tell them how you feel. They may tell you that you don’t know what you are talking about, or make you feel as though you don’t understand the issue. They may tell you they don’t believe our Attorney General should unilaterally ENFORCE EXISTING LAWS and close the loopholes that gun-dealers and manufacturers were exploiting to sell semi-automatic weapons. But her actions prevented that selling/buying frenzy that would follow any announcement of the intention to take the kind of action she took. They will say, as they have in this letter, that these laws have been on the books since 1998; why now? The answer is we don’t know how long gun sellers have been tweaking these guns and calling them legal, just that 10,000 have made it into our communities in one year alone. They will say they want this to go through their long legislative process, but that would have resulted in those accelerated gun sales while that long process played out. New laws aren’t necessary, the laws are already in place, but the altering of these guns and then selling them as legal, has not been addressed, until now. Healey should be the one enforcing the law.
Remember these legislators in November. Many believe their incumbency guarantees their reelection. Many would prefer we don’t know about their support of gun-rights and the high grades they get from GOAL/NRA. We weren’t paying enough attention, but now we are. We will share these ratings in a future post.
Since she issued this enforcement action, NRA and GOAL members troll Healey whenever she makes an appearance in MA. We need to show up, support her and thank her for her vigilance on our behalf.
Legislators who signed the open letter to Healey:
- Alan Silvia
- Angelo D’Emilia
- Anne Gobi
- Bradford Hill
- Bradley Jones
- Brian Mannal (retired)
- Bruce Tarr
- Colleen Garry
- Dave Nangle
- David De Coste
- David Muradian
- David Vieira
- Donald Berthiaune
- Donald Humason
- Donald Wong
- Elizabeth Poirier
- Jay Barrows
- Geoff Diehl
- Hannah Kane
- James Arciero
- James Dwyer
- James Kelcourse
- James Lyons
- James Timilty
- Jennifer Flanagan
- John Velis
- Jonathan Zlotnick
- Joseph McKenna
- Josh Cutler
- Kate Campanale
- Keiko Orrall
- Kevin Kuros
- Kimberly Ferguson
- Leonard Mirra
- Marc Lombardo
- Matthew Muratore
- Michael Moore
- Nicolas Boldiyga
- Patrick O’Connor
- Paul Frost
- Paul McMurtry
- Peter Durant
- Randy Hunt
- Richard Ross
- Ryan Fattman
- Shauna O’Connell
- Shawn Dooley
- Sheila Harrington
- Stephan Hay
- Stephen Kulik
- Steven Hewitt
- Susan Williams Gifford
- Susannah Whipps Lee
- Thomas Calter
- Thomas Golden
- Timothy Whelan
- Todd Smola
- Vinny deMacedo
*This is a link to a collection of the videos taken by the students at MSD during the assault. Warning: this collection of videos is extremely disturbing and may not be suited for all viewers, yet, there are times in this national debate when it seems people who want to allow these guns to be sold, should be made to watch.
Related posts (the related posts below this post may not be up-to-date, these are more recent)
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