BOSTON - The attorney general is telling Massachusetts gun sellers that her office is cracking down on sales of assault rifles that have been altered to pass state standards.
"The gun industry has openly defied our laws here in Massachusetts for nearly two decades,” said AG Maura Healey. “That ends today.”
Healey sent a letter and enforcement notice to gun sellers to clarify the law and tell them to cease sales starting July 20. Despite a ban, the Attorney General's office says an estimated 10,000 copycat assault weapons were sold in Massachusetts last year alone.
The Attorney General's office said that Assault weapons includes the weapons below that means specific conditons (click link to read conditions:
- Avtomat Kalashnikov (AK) (all models);
- Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI and Galil;
- Beretta Ar70 (SC-70);
- Colt AR-15;
- Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR and FNC;
- SWD M-10, M-11, M-11/9 and M-12;
- Steyr AUG;
- INTRATEC TEC-9, TEC-DC9 and TEC-22; and
- Revolving cylinder shotguns, such as, or similar to, the Street Sweeper and Striker 12.
The attorney general said it will be enforcing the ban on copies or duplicates of assault weapons, based on a similarity test and interchangeability test. The tests say that if the gun is substantially similar to an assault weapon or if the receiver is the same or interchangeable with an assault weapon, it is banned.
"If a weapon meets one of the above tests, it is a Copy or Duplicate (and therefore a prohibited Assault weapon), even if it is marketed as “state compliant” or “Massachusetts compliant," said the enforcement notice.
Gun rights advocates said Healey's letter and notice of enforcement is reinterpreting the language of the law. Jim Wallace with the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts called Healey's action a political stunt.
He also said the language in the enforcement letter is vague, so he's not yet sure how to advise his members.
"The language in the enforcement letter is very confusing. It could include a lot of other types of firearms that normally wouldn't be considered so-called assault weapons," he said.
The Massachusetts assault weapons ban is the same as the federal ban that expired in 2004, which also banned copies or duplicates.
Healey said in a news conference Wednesday that what spurred this enforcement was the Orlando nightclub attack. Shortly after, her office reviewed Massachusetts gun sales.
"In the week after Orlando, we saw the sales of some of these very assault weapons jump as high as 450-percent here in Massachusetts," she said.
The enforcement will not be applied to possession, ownership or transfer before July 20, 2016. Gun dealers who currently have copies or duplicates on hand are not permitted to sell them to Massachusetts buyers, but may transfer them out-of-state to jurisdictions where sales of these weapons are legal.
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