In the state of Massachusetts, the attorney general has a great deal of authority on gun regulations. This is a problem for gun rights activists in the state, and they’re pushing legislation that’ll fix that issue.
The gun lobby Thursday challenged Attorney General Maura Healy’s authority over firearms regulation, supporting proposed legislation to weaken her oversight and strengthen that of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Marc Lombardo, R-Billerica, seeks to eliminate the ability of the attorney general to regulate the sale and manufacturing of firearms, a practice that began in the 1990s. The legislation follows Ms. Healey’s heightened enforcement of a long-term ban of assault rifles through a crackdown on copycat weapons.
“Last year … the AG decided to take matters into her own hands in order to decide what could be defined as an assault rifle in the state,” said John Hohenwarter of the National Rifle Association. “What she did … absolutely step out of bounds by these regulations and the … bills that are before this body are to address what she has done.”
Gun control groups, including the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, oppose Mr. Lombardo’s bill and side with the attorney general’s efforts to tighten firearm regulations.
“The attorney general was taking the intent of the law and seeking to enforce it at its fullest extent to protect Massachusetts (residents),” said coalition member Matthew Nugent. “The AG … is the highest law enforcement officer in the state and should continue to have oversight of firearms … one of our most lethal consumer products.”
One concern from the gun lobby involves the AG office’s regulation of a firearm roster.
Currently, the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security maintains a list of firearms that can be sold throughout the state. However, not all of the weapons on the list comply with the attorney general’s handgun sales regulations. Mr. Lombardo’s proposal would create a weapons roster without caveats.
The reality is that the bill is simply shifting responsibility to a different person, rather than where it should reside, the legislature.
Granted, this is Massachusetts, where it’s unlikely the legislature wouldn’t enact similar regulations to what the attorney general put in place, but at least then it’s created in a slightly more democratic manner.
That said, this bill would at least reduce conflicting regulations, making it easier for residents in the state to determine what firearms are legal.
Yes, I know, such lists are stupid and unconstitutional (what part of “shall not be infringed” is so blasted hard to comprehend for these people?) but they’re also the reality for far too many people in the United States. They can only buy “approved” firearms, so we might as well work to streamline the process as much as possible – at least until these good people can regain the liberty most of us enjoy on a daily basis by buying from such a wide variety of firearms.
Freedom is great, but it’s not likely to happen overnight. For the people of Massachusetts, this is at least a positive step forward. May it be the first of many.