AG Healey fires back at Massachusetts gun industry lawsuit
By Evan Lips | November 22, 2016, 19:16 EST
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey fired back on Tuesday against a lawsuit filed against her by the firearm industry representatives who claim her summer “copycat” assault weapons ban directive infringes on constitutional rights.
Healey’s office, in its motion to dismiss, counters that the enforcement notice “was issued in accordance with the attorney general’s authority as the chief law enforcement officer of the commonwealth” and is “consistent with the plain text, statutory purpose and legislative history of the Massachusetts assault weapons ban.”
“Since 1998, state law has banned the sale and possession of assault weapons, including copies and duplicates of AR-15s and AK-47s,” Healey’s press secretary, Jillian Fennimore, said in a prepared statement issued Tuesday afternoon. “We know, from the many mass shootings across the country in recent years, that keeping these military-style weapons off our streets will make our communities safer, and we are glad to see that gun dealers and manufacturers are now complying with the law.”
Fennimore noted that during the time since Healey issued the directive, “the illegal sale of assault weapons in Massachusetts has effectively ended, as the Legislature intended.”
“We strongly believe this lawsuit — which seeks to block the attorney general from issuing guidance — has no merit and we have asked the court to dismiss it,” Fennimore added.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, along with four Bay State gun retailers, filed the lawsuit in federal court in September. The lawsuit accuses Healey of issuing an enforcement notice that is “unconstitutionally vague, invalid and unenforceable.”
Representing the plaintiffs is attorney Michael Sullivan of the Ashcroft Law Firm, who in the past served as the U.S. attorney for the state and also as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Healey’s 40-page motion claims, however, that the July enforcement order does not violate the Second Amendment and complies with the assault weapons ban passed by the state Legislature in 1998. A federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004.
Tuesday’s filing adds to what have been several headline-worthy days for Healey, who was recently ordered by a federal judge in Texas to appear in a Dallas courtroom for a deposition in another lawsuit filed by oil giant ExxonMobil, who claim her efforts to conduct a climate change-related investigation of the company amounts to a partisan “witch hunt.”
Read a copy of Healey’s motion to dismiss: