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The Attorney General of Massachusetts, Maura Healy, has decided that she can dictate law without recourse to the legislature or the courts. She has decided to unilaterally change the definition of what is and is not an "assault weapon" in the law.
Crimes committed with all rifles are exeedingly rare in Massachusetts. 2014, is the lastest year we have records for in the FBI Uniform Crime Report. In 2014, no murders with rifles of any kind, let alone "assault weapons" were recorded in Massachusetts.
Yes, you read correctly. Zero. Ziltch. Nada. If there had been a single crime committed in Massachusetts with one of the rifles that AG Healy does not like, she would have shouted it to the world. She did not. In 2014, there were 3 murders recorded with hands and feet, and 34 recorded with cutting instruments in the State of Massachusetts.
Before the ineffective Clinton "Assault Weapon" ban expired in 2004, Massachusetts enacted a virtually duplicate law at the state level. There is no indication that the state law was any more effective than the failed Clinton law. The law has been in force in Massachusetts for over 30 years now.
But AG Maura Healy doesn't like the law. She claims that it is not restrictive enough. There have been virtually no problems with these firearms in Massachusetts, and minimal problems nationwide (there were only 248 murders committed with *all* rifles in 2014, out of 11,961 total murders.
The state that had the most murders with rifles was California, with 40 in 2014. California has some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, particularly restrictive of so called "assault weapons".
Healy could lobby the legislature to amend the law. She might succeed. Massachusetts is notoriously irrational when it comes to weapons laws.
But she is impatient. She is not willing to use due process. From the bostonglobe.com:
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.Her assertions are absurd. They could have been alleged anytime in the last 20 years. They would have been thrown out of court because they do not describe what the law clearly states. There is a reason that the silly "assault weapon" ban was sun set. The academic research is clear. It did nothing to measurably reduce crime, or crime with the particular rifles mentioned, in part because the numbers of those rifles used in crime were already incredibly low. Any small, non-measurable reduction was offset by switching to other weapons that were not banned.
The directive specifically outlines two tests to determine what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” of a prohibited weapon. If a gun’s operating system is essentially the same as that of a banned weapon, or if the gun has components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon, it’s a “copy” or “duplicate,” and it is illegal. Assault weapons prohibited under our laws cannot be altered in any way to make their sale or possession legal in Massachusetts.
Healy's argument is absurd. She states that the rifles she has an irrational distaste for have no use in civilian hands.
They are weapons used to commit mass murder. And they have no business being in civilian hands.Then why are they in the hands of most police departments in the United States?
Police *are* civilians. They are not military. If they need these incredibly useful and versatile self defense tools, then so do responsible and peaceful citizens.
These type of rifles are particularly well suited for use by self organized citizen militias in time of societal break down. In America, citizens self organize in times of natural disaster or "man made" emergencies.
Healy is getting her 15 minutes of fame. There will likely be little followup when a court strikes down her dictatorial decree as unlawful.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Link to Gun Watch