Sadly, Democrats have had little luck getting Republicans to vote on legislation to address the massive gun problem in this country. On the bright side, however, some public figures are working to combat the problem at the state level.
One of those individuals is Maura Healey, the attorney general for the state of Massachusetts. Writing for the Boston Globe, she said:
‘Here in Massachusetts, 10,000 assault weapons were sold just in the last year — each one nearly identical to the rifle used to gun down 49 innocent people in Orlando. In the week after the Pulse nightclub massacre, sales of weapons strikingly similar to the Sig Sauer MCX used at Pulse jumped as high as 450 percent over the previous week — just in Massachusetts.’
Citing the Orlando shooter’s use of an AR-15 style assault weapon to carryout what would later be known as the biggest mass shooting in American history, Healey described the weapon as one of “war” and “mass murder.”
Fed-up with the multitude of excuses from Republicans, Healey decided to take matters into her own hands. According to her letter in the Boston Globe:
‘The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific weapons like the Colt AR-15 and AK-47 and explicitly bans “copies or duplicates” of those weapons. But gun manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to define what a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon is. They market “state compliant” copycat versions of their assault weapons to Massachusetts buyers. They sell guns without a flash suppressor or folding or telescoping stock, for example, small tweaks that do nothing to limit the lethalness of the weapon.’
But on Wednesday, Healey plans to change all that. “On Wednesday,” she writes, “we are sending a directive to all gun manufacturers and dealers that makes clear that the sale of these copycat assault weapons is illegal in Massachusetts.”
All weapons must be tested to ensure they aren’t a “copy” or “duplicate” before they are solid:
‘The directive specifically outlines two tests to determine what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” of a prohibited weapon. If a gun’s operating system is essentially the same as that of a banned weapon, or if the gun has components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon, it’s a “copy” or “duplicate,” and it is illegal.’
Explaining the difference, she continued:
‘Massachusetts law considers “assault weapons” to be part of a larger class of guns known as “large capacity weapons”. There are restrictions on possession, purchase and transportation of these guns and the penalties for using them in a crime are generally more severe. There is also a ban on “large capacity magazines” made after September 13, 1994.’
State law prohibits the following:
‘No person shall sell, offer for sale, transfer or possess an assault weapon or a large capacity feeding device that was not otherwise lawfully possessed on September 13, 1994. Whoever not being licensed under the provisions of section 122 violates the provisions of this section shall be punished, for a first offense, by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than ten years, or by both such fine and imprisonment, and for a second offense, by a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $15,000 or by imprisonment for not less than five years nor more than 15 years, or by both such fine and imprisonment. The provisions of this section shall not apply to: (i) the possession by a law enforcement officer for purposes of law enforcement; or (ii) the possession by an individual who is retired from service with a law enforcement agency and is not otherwise prohibited from receiving such a weapon or feeding device from such agency upon retirement.”
While it may be a small step, at least state-level governments are taking the necessary steps to ensure something is done about this problem.