Federal Judge Denies AG Healey’s Attempt To Toss ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Lawsuit

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/03/14/federal-judge-denies-ag-healeys-attempt-to-toss-assault-weapons-ban-lawsuit/


WORCESTER — At the same that a push is brewing from Massachusetts gun control advocates to make the Bay State’s strict firearms laws go national, a federal judge has determined that there is enough standing to allow a lawsuit challenging Attorney General Maura Healey’s 2016 so-called “copycat” assault weapons ban to move forward.

Massachusetts U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman on Wednesday squashed Healey’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit, filed by several Massachusetts gun retailers in conjunction with the National Shooting Sports Foundation in September 2016. Healey’s motion to dismiss, filed in November 2016, claimed that her enforcement order did not violate Second Amendment and complied with the original assault weapons ban enacted in 1998.

Hillman, nominated to the federal bench in 2011 by then-President Barack Obama, made frequent references in his ruling to “vagueness” — and a “climate of uncertainty” — cited by gun retailers regarding Healey’s directive.

Hillman cited the retailers’ confusion over which weapons became illegal seemingly overnight following the issuance of the directive. According to their lawsuit, gun retailers who had asked Healey’s office for clarification were told to “use their best judgement” and that Healey’s office had not “taken a position” on specific weapons. Hillman ruled that these examples “provide sufficient controversy to sustain this action.”

“The Attorney General’s Notice and subsequent failure to clarify arguably has resulted in a lack of fair notice of which conduct will be subject to criminal sanction,” Hillman wrote. “It is in the interests of all parties that this be resolved in order to effectuate a clear and effective regulatory regime in which sanctionable conduct is properly prescribed.”

Hillman continued:

“A reading of the Notice in the context of the subsequent notices, and taking into account the Plaintiffs’ unchallenged narratives of their attempts to clarify the Attorney General’s intent, arguably lacks necessary clarity with respect to certain weapons, at this stage of the proceedings. The Plaintiffs had been able to sell these weapons, and the Attorney General’s public statements highlight that the weapons have been widely sold in the Commonwealth without sanction, suggesting that the law was previously (prior to the notices in dispute here) settled on this matter. Plaintiffs complain that they now refrain from selling such weapons because such sales might be, but are not definitively, illegal. On this basis, the Court finds that the Plaintiffs make out the elements of case sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss.”

A spokesman for Healey said the Massachusetts Attorney General will continue to contest the firearms sellers’ lawsuit.

“Since 1998, state law has banned the sale and possession of assault weapons, including copies and duplicates of AR-15s and AK-47s, to make our communities safer. Our Enforcement Notice has effectively ended the illegal sale of assault weapons in Massachusetts, and we will continue to vigorously oppose this challenge,” Healey spokesman Jillian Fennimore said in an email message to New Boston Post.

Read Hillman’s 10-page order:

2018 03 14 Hillman Healey by Evan on Scribd