Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey has been demanding a reinterpretation of the Commonwealth’s gun laws.
She seeks to expand the list of semi-automatic firearms that were not originally under Massachusetts’ longstanding ban.
Maura’s goal is to include guns that have thus far been compliant with the law. And, so far, Healey has made it through the first segment of legal challenge.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge William Young made the decision to dismiss a lawsuit against Healey. The lawsuit was made by a group of four gun dealers, as well as a gun rights group.
Young’s dismissal was due to his disagreement with the argument that these guns and magazines are under protection by the Constitution.
According to Young in his 47-page ruling, “Assault weapons and LCMs [large capacity magazines] — the types banned by the Act — are not within the scope of the personal right to ‘bear Arms’ under the Second Amendment.”
Young ultimately fell back on the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s remarks about the M-16 rifle. He said that weapons that are most useful in military service do not fall under the Second Amendment. As such, the decision may be for the state of Massachusetts to ban them.
Young also made the decision to ignore the various differences between the M-16 and the AR-15. He said these firearms were “almost identical,” aside from the mode of firing.
According to Guns.com:
Young also felt that magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition were likewise “indicative of military firearms” and thus out of Constitutional protection, and, while acknowledging the popularity of the AR-15 and similar guns in circulation by the millions, said that argument had no bearing on the Second Amendment.
The National Rifle Association blasted that logic. “It is outrageous that Judge Young is taking advantage of the fact that Justice Scalia is unable to refute such a claim,” the group said in a statement, arguing Scalia’s position on Second Amendment protections for AR-15s has long been documented. “In the 2015 Friedman v. City of Highland Park case, Justice Scalia joined a dissent which stated that the decision by millions of Americans to own AR-style rifles for lawful purposes ‘is all that is needed for citizens to have a right under the Second Amendment to keep such weapons.’”
In 2016, Healy declared she was banning the sale of “copycat” rifles that shared common parts such as triggers or bolt carriers with AR-15s, AK-variants and others on the Commonwealth’s prohibited “assault weapons” list, saying that as many as 10,000 had been legally sold in the state last year. This led to a rush on stores by gun owners seeking to buy the newly prohibited models, as well as pushback from lawmakers and regulatory agencies. In the end, four gun dealers and a firearms advocacy group filed suit in federal court seeking to overturn the new rules, which Young upheld last week.
As for Healey, she took Young’s ruling as a solid validation of her enforcement action. “Today’s decision upholding the Assault Weapons Ban vindicates the right of the people of Massachusetts to protect themselves from these weapons of war and my office’s efforts to enforce the law,” said Healey in a statement. “Strong gun laws save lives, and we will not be intimidated by the gun lobby in our efforts to end the sale of assault weapons and protect our communities and schools. Families across the country should take heart in this victory.”
The ruling was acclaimed by gun control groups to include the Brady Center and Giffordswho said the court rightfully found that the “Second Amendment does not extend to protect the civilian possession of military weapons of war.”
The case may be appealed by the plaintiffs to the First Circuit.