The law is the law.
For a lot of people, that’s all that should matter. What is legal is legal and what isn’t, isn’t.
However, the reality is far more nuanced than that. There are, in fact, loopholes throughout our legal system. In Massachusetts, the media is up in arms about such a loophole.
You see, people are skirting a gun control law and we know how folks in Massachusetts love them some gun control.
When federal authorities did a sweep of a Littleton gun emporium earlier this year, they found many dealers were using a sales tactic to help customers obtain weapons that would otherwise be illegal to sell in Massachusetts, newly obtained records show.
The tactic exploits a loophole in state law that dates to 1998, when the Legislature’s landmark Gun Control Act defined a “firearm” as a weapon “from which a shot or bullet can be discharged.”
Many guns restricted by the state easily separate into two parts — upper and lower receivers for AR-15 rifles, and slides and frames for many pistols — that can’t fire a bullet without the other part. Thus, some dealers simply sell the parts in separate transactions, themselves or by teaming up with another dealer.
The tactic — referred to as the “frame game” — is a statewide phenomenon. But an old mill building in Littleton, which at one point housed more than 80 gun vendors, is particularly notorious for the practice. The Globe found it described in at least 10 inspection reports from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ sweep of the building in January. None of the dealers were issued a violation for thepractice, demonstrating just how readily federal authorities accept it.
One ATFreport says a prospective dealer told inspectors his services would include “acquiring handguns that are not listed on the Massachusetts approved roster, which will be disassembled and transferred to [customers,] as firearms frames are not registered under Massachusetts law.”
The ATF subsequently issued him a license to manufacture firearms, which is also required to disassemble them for sale.
Inspectors reported that two other so-called firearms manufacturers at the mill — KAG Arms LLC and KAS Arms LLC — are run by the same two people, in the same room, and that one entity’s primary function is to sell parts from guns that the other entity disassembled.
Of course, this is presented as if it’s some significant problem there in the state, but the truth of the matter is that I think it’s blindingly obvious that they’d go this route.
Especially since I think we’ll find that in time, all weapon bans like this will be overturned by the Supreme Court. After all, I don’t expect we’ll see an 18th-century gun ban analog.
“But the spirit of the law…”
I. Don’t. Care.
Either they broke the law or they didn’t. Since it seems that many of these were skirting Massachusetts law instead of outright violating it, I think it’s funny as hell.
And what’s more, the ATF doesn’t seem to care, either. They’re focused on federal law, and since this is legal under federal law, they’re not really going to do a damn thing to stop it. Not right now, at least.
The media is writing about this not because they think it’s interesting but because they want it to be illegal. They want this practice to stop, all because they know it’s legal now and they want to gin up enough outrage that the law will change.
The thing is, they don’t get that many of the people they need to convince to change the law on the federal level think the law that’s being circumvented is way too far. Why would they pass a law to make that situation worse?
Yes, this is glorious disobedience and I love it.