Healey done with ‘tired arguments’ from pro-gun groups
By Evan Lips | August 18, 2016, 15:31 EST
BOSTON — With a lawsuit looming, Attorney General Maura Healey took to the airwaves Thursday to answer questions about her office’s recent interpretation of state gun laws and dismissed what she described as “tired arguments” from pro-gun groups.
“They immediately go to ‘slippery slope’ and ‘you’re going to take away all our guns’ and ‘you’re going to repeal the Second Amendment,’” Healey said during her latest monthly appearance on Boston Public Radio’s “Ask the AG” segment, referencing claims from pro-gun groups that her office’s interpretation could set a dangerous precedent. “We’re going to be out there enforcing the law, making sure that these weapons, which are so lethal and wreak such havoc, aren’t going to be available for sale here in Massachusetts.“
Last month Healey’s office announced that there would be a crackdown on so-called “copycat” guns, or firearms she says mimic assault weapons that the state Legislature banned in 1998. The announcement resulted in a surge of sales at Massachusetts gun shops like Pullman Arms in Worcester, which remained open until midnight on the day of the announcement to accommodate the crush of sales.
On Thursday Healey told WGBH hosts Jim Braude and Margery Eagan that the surge in sales ended almost as soon as it began.
“In the last two weeks since that announcement was made about our enforcement notice, we’ve seen sales of these assault weapons and copycat assault weapons virtually stop in our state,” Healey said, while acknowledging that “sales were off the charts” on the day of her announcement.
Healey’s WGBH appearance came days after the Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts hosted a sold-out banquet-style rally in Boxboro. Outside the members-only gathering, GOAL Executive Director Jim Wallace told the NewBostonPost that Healey effectively “reinvented the gun laws of the state” and “actually placed hundreds of thousands of families at risk of prosecution.”
Healey in her July notice stated that prosecution would not apply to “future possession, ownership or transfer of assault weapons by dealers, provided that the dealer has written evidence that the weapons were transferred to the dealer in the Commonwealth prior to July 20, 2016.”
In her radio appearance Healey also talked about what inspired her to direct her office to re-examine the state’s gun business: the June massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida by a self-avowed sympathizer of the ISIS terrorist group, one which resulted in the deaths of 49.
“After Orlando I was asked by many members of the media, ‘could this weapon be purchased here in Massachusetts?’” Healey recalled. “So I asked the team to look into it — what we found is that even though we had a ban on the sale of these weapons, copycat versions of these weapons were being sold in the state.
“Here in Massachusetts, 10,000 of these military-style assault weapons were sold in Massachusetts alone, I was shocked to hear that, and I think a lot of other people were shocked to hear that.”
Healey also answered questions about a letter Gov. Charlie Baker penned to her office in which he requested her to clarify several “ambiguities” for “thousands of gun owners who were told they were following the rules for 18 years.”
“Contrary to what the governor has suggested, there’s no confusion about this, there’s no lack of clarity about this — and now the NRA (National Rifle Association) and others will try to use that as a talking point and that’s the same old tired trick they always trot out,” Healey said. “The fact of the matter is there’s no confusion — we know that because sales of these have stopped overnight, essentially.
“We’ve taken and continue to take calls from gun dealers and others with questions and it’s very clear to us that they know exactly what it is we’re talking about.”
Healey later offered more strong words for gun owner groups like the NRA and GOAL and noted that the groups intend to spend roughly “a half-million dollars” fighting her in court.
“This isn’t about taking anybody’s guns away whatsoever or undermining the Second Amendment,” Healey said. “This is about enforcing the law. It’s as simple as that.”
Healey added that she’s witnessed a groundswell of support for her decision.
“We have received such support from hospital executives, public health experts, law enforcement, police chiefs, district attorneys — so many groups that are engaged already in efforts to combat gun violence,” she said. “I’ve received hundreds of letters in support of this action which again, is simply, to my mind the bare minimum that needs to happen in terms of enforcing existing law.”
Healey also trotted out a claim that has been debunked, even by progressive news magazines like Mother Jones.
“Last year in this country we had more mass shootings than we had calendar days,” Healey said, a point she also made during a previous interview with WFXT Fox 25.
GOAL has said they intend to stage another rally opposing Healey’s interpretation. A previous rally held immediately after her announcement saw hundreds descend upon Beacon Hill despite a sweltering heat wave.
The group’s “rolling” rally is scheduled for Aug. 28, a Sunday.