Massachusetts gun group claims Baker knew of Healey order in advance
By Evan Lips | August 23, 2016, 18:11 EST
BOSTON — The state’s largest pro-gun group, currently embroiled in a battle with Attorney General Maura Healey over her recent interpretation of firearm laws, has made a not-so-subtle claim that Gov. Charlie Baker knew about Healey’s plan well in advance of her surprise July 20 announcement.
The Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts made the claim while interacting with posters on its Facebook page.
“What if we told you that the governor, who we did not support, knew about it well before it was released and did nothing to stop it?” the organization posted in response to a question about why state lawmakers failed to address Healey’s move prior to the end of the legislation session.
GOAL also claimed that the “legislative leadership didn’t allow” the matter to be dealt with by lawmakers and claimed “they were in on it and protected her.”
Baker spokesman Lizzie Guyton, reached Tuesday, issued a statement but stopped short of denying GOAL’s claim:
“Governor Baker supports the Second Amendment and the administration continues to question the Attorney General on this matter, stressing the need to protect lawful gun owners who sought to play by the rules as written. Members of the administration’s legal staff meet regularly with the Attorney General’s office on a variety of issues and when the administration first learned of the AG’s directive they stressed the need for greater clarity. ”
Jim Wallace, GOAL’s executive director, has yet to respond to a message left requesting comment.
The claim marks the latest rift between the Swampscott Republican and a swath of members of his own party. GOAL had backed conservative GOP candidate Mark Fisher ahead of the 2014 gubernatorial Republican primary.
Last week during her monthly radio appearance on WBUR Healey derided claims she had overstepped her bounds by enacting an abrupt ban on so-called “copycat weapons,” or firearms she claims are built to exploit a loophole in the state’s assault weapons ban.
“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 at the time. “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.“
Baker formally entered the conversation days after Healey’s announcement when his office issued her a formal letter asking her to clarify “ambiguities” in her legal notice.
“Keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of those who wish to do others harm is a priority we share,” Baker wrote. “At the same time, protecting from prosecution responsible gun owners who followed the rules in the past and ensuring there is clarity when it comes to enforcing gun control measures such as the assault weapons ban are essential to fair application of the law.”
Asked during her radio appearance about Baker’s letter, Healey responded by saying, “contrary to what the governor has suggested, there’s no confusion about this.”