AG Healey’s assault weapon interpretation (please overturn).

I’ve received hundreds of emails like the following from folks — mostly from outside the district that I represent, from all over the state and outside the state.

As a law-abiding Second Amendment supporter in Massachusetts, I urge you to please support both Senate Bill 1316 and Senate Bill 1326.

Both S.1316 and S.1326 seek to challenge the gun ban set forth last summer by Attorney General Healey’s “enforcement notice,” which greatly expands the Commonwealth’s definition of “assault weapon.”  AG Healey alleges that the ban’s definition of “copy” or “duplicate” “assault weapons” has been misinterpreted for the last 18 years and she is simply the first law enforcement official to discover this incorrect interpretation. It’s time to stand up to her unilateral decision which bans many of the most popular semi-automatic rifles lawfully sold and possessed.

Once again, I urge you to please support S.1316 and S.1326, and oppose new gun control legislation which discriminates against lawful gun owners and places further burdens on law-abiding citizens. Thank you.


Here is how I have been answering these emails

I’m a huge fan of Maura Healey — she is a great person and a great Attorney General. And I’m a strong supporter of gun control.

I do feel, based on my own initial review of the issue, that, in this case, she may well have extended the law beyond its intended use. That is an issue that is best resolved in the courts — they are the proper arbiters of disputes about interpretation of a statute. Depending on how this gets resolved by the courts, there may be a need for legislation.

We can’t do anything meaningful without an authoritative court interpretation of the statute.  I think we have to let the litigation resolve before we take any action.

Litigation Update on April 6, 2018

Federal District Judge Young has issued his opinion in this case and has ruled in favor of Attorney General Healey’s position.

I  agree with the judge’s ruling that an assault weapons ban does not violate the second amendment.  I also agree that the ban is not unconstitutionally vague. Those issues seem quite clear based on existing precedent.

The judge did not directly rule on the one issue that had me more troubled — whether the Attorney General had in her enforcement advisory extended the definition of assault weapon beyond that which the legislature originally intended.  The court found that that question was not ready for adjudication because the AG made clear that her action would have prospective effect only and she has not actually undertaken any enforcement under the new policy.

It is worth observing that Washington counsel has appeared in the case. It appears there is a good chance that this case will be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.  But, apparently, the plaintiff’s have not decided their next step.


Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.

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  1. It’s sad that the state that started the revolution has really come to this. Does anyone remember the principles and ideals this country was founded upon. This action is an example of the tyranny the second amendment was meant to protect against. Massachusetts has allowed the rights of its citizens to be trampled upon. The AG has committed criminal acts against the citizens of this state. What politician has the balls to stand for what is right. The next election let’s vote the right way. Wake up Massachusetts, 1984 or 1776. You decide.

  2. In my opinion , it takes a real lowlife to exploit a horrible event of humanity.
    She is trying to spin things to advance her personal opinion to advance her career. It is much easer to attack law abiding citizens than to face the real problem of mental health. When Newtown happened , it was in my head for months trying to figure how this could happen. As more information came out it showed that he had serious issues everyone seemed to be aware of. Did he get treatment?????? What kind of world will my 4 kids and my 9 grandchildren live in? I am a gun owner and I sadly might have voted for Healy and I want my vote back. I think that our elected people need to look at what’s wrong with society and concentrate on the human factor . A gun doesn’t load and shoot itself . I hope what I wrote makes some sense , now I’m tired Of typing.
    I Have had a LTC for 55 years and I think I behaved well .

  3. Senator Brownsberger,I can appreciate your level headed response to this overreach by the AG. Thanks for paying attention.


  4. I dont recall any ag who can make laws. She is not getting the whole picture as the more gun bans or rules make us law abiding citizens vunreable to innocent attacks from criminals who do not follow rules or laws. Please bring national carry rules for us. Thanks

  5. The AG clearly overreached and overstepped her legal authority with her punitive and sneaky implementation of her guidance. She clearly was taking advantage of the Orlando FL shooting tragedy to execute a political stunt to position herself for any possible appointment in the given election of Hillary Clinton to the Presidency. She disgusts me and many thousands of others in this state, and she should be removed from office. As expected, you would never support any legislation in support of individual rights under the 2nd Amendment. You claim that you are pro-gun control, but I think you are really anti 2nd Amendment. There are town police chiefs within your own district who violate the 2nd Amendment and the Massachusetts State Firearms laws for law abiding citizens in their jurisdictions every day. This has been going on for years. I challenge you to have the courage to debate me on their unconstitutional, illegal, and abusive powers.

    1. HI Dean,

      A good place for you to discus your views publicly will be when legislation on these issues gets a hearing before the Public Safety committee.

      Call my office in about a month to check on the schedule if you’d like.


  6. as of the last data from the FBI the more problematic gun type is pistols not rifles. They accounted for 9000 of the 12,000 fun deaths in 2013. According to the CDC, in 2014 gun related suicide accounted for 63.5% and homicide only 32.6%. total deaths was 33,599. If you want to regulate something it should be hand guns

  7. Paul, I support your point of view.

    And I do have hundreds of law binding citizens expressing the same concern. Why can’t Maura Healey be limited to the responsibilities and authorities that she is elected for? Why suddenly she can abuse her power and start dictating how legislatives should be interpreted? Is she transforming to be both the law maker and attorney general?

    That is a very dangerous move for the commonwealth. Dear Senator, I hope that you can take proper corrective action against MH.

  8. If the AG had concerns and documented evidence about potential abuse she should have brought it to the Legislature to address properly. She does not have authority to add new definition, tests and rules to prevent consumer purchase of long-standing legal goods under the thinly veiled guise of MA 93A (2) as subject to US 45(a)(1) which are meant to protect consumers against unfair competition and fraud.

    She does not have the authority, and clearly not the ethics, to do an end run around the Legislature knowing that the Session was ending and could not be addressed until next year.

    Pushing responsibility to the courts will take years, and the harm to families and businesses will be catastrophic.

    The AG’s actions need to be put on hold, so due process through due diligence and protect our process of government and the rule of law.

    Important matters such as this which deal with long-standing law, constitutional rights and can potentially create criminals out of law abiding families must be carefully vetted by the combined Legislature.

  9. This is a gross overreach and refifinition of law that has significant economic and legal ramifications of potential 300,000 families and numerous business.

    The Committee must make a ruling to put the AG’a actions on hold, preserving the 18 year status quo for the time being. This kind of end-run around due process cannot be tolerated, especially for such important matters concerning rights and long-standing law.

    Give the combined Legislature time for due diligence to see any documented proof and determine if the assurtions of rampant intentional abuse of the law justifies written amendment of law.
    Allow time to do this properly and protect the rights of your constituents above politics.

  10. Sir,
    Overnight the AGO made almost 400,000 of the commonwealth’s most background checked lawful citizens into un-indicted potential felons. That’s 10% of the voting population. Lawful families and businesses are being effected on a daily basis, family businesses will fail under this vague edict, and good people have the AG’s executioner’s axe hanging over their head. Please explain to me why this is not a legislative priority? And how, kicking the can down the road to the courts will remedy a legislative issue, since she did “legislate” and not create new law?