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.

94 replies on “AG Healey’s assault weapon interpretation (please overturn).”

  1. The AG has clearly overstepped her authority. You are not helping by passing it along to the courts. You know that it takes years to be heard, and that is not fair to law abiding MA residents. Gov. Baker, the House and the Senate have done nothing to put her in check. I will let my vote show you how disappointed I am in your lack of attention to this very serious matter. There will be changes next election unless you do the right thing and put an end to the AG’s disgraceful abuse of power.

    1. I also agree. This reply is a.k.a. passing the buck and C.Y.A. Do your elected job and stand up to this type of bullying. You are both elected officials. I’d be very surprised if our liberal courts in Massachusetts do anything. She should be censured for being so devious and understand everyone has a limit to power.

  2. Jay McMahon
    Candidate for Attorney General November 2018 let’s get on this one fellow 2nd amendment supporters!

  3. I also believe she has extended her power as AG and in a very covert manner. The legislation was on recess for the Holidays. She decided to enact her own personal agenda. This is NOT democracy, this is autocracy. This is NOT how we should be running our country. She should be censured for this move.

  4. Well Aren’t you just swell for being a huge fan of this self serving political wanna be with high political aspirations that she could violate her oath to the MA Constitution and over step her authority by trampling upon the rights of all law-abiding MA citizens:AG Maura Healey. You must be proud of yourself for standing by and allowing to violate her office, and the citizens of this State.

    Same on all you cowardly elected officials that have taken no action to stop an AG that is out of control.How can she run rough shod over all of you without any push back from the Executive or Legislative branches of our state Government unbelievable.
    All of “yous” would rather hide and let this matter drag out in court instead of doing your Constitutional job. SAD,SAD SAD, and deplorable.

    She has her rights but denies the same rights to the rest of MA citizens just for her selfish future political gain, so she thinks. I hope it back fires on her and you and the rest of the DEMs in getting re-elected to save MA citizens from hacks.

    Our Massachusetts government is broken when our AG is able to act outside her Constitutional role and responsibility.
    Really ?????? It seems crazy to me and many citizens that we need another law to stop our AG from being lawless in her political attempts to gain anti-gun voters approval over all law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights, as a mean to further advance her political aspiration.
    Citizens very well understand and strongly urge that the Massachusetts legislators to stop the abuse of power by Attorney General Healey.
    Citizens very well understand that it is the Massachusetts legislators that make the laws and it is the sole role of the Massachusetts judiciary to interpret those laws. So how could our AG do what she has done without any action from either the Massachusetts legislators or the Massachusetts judiciary is clear violation to the rule of law, and Massachusetts’s form of government?
    If Attorney General Healey has an issue with current laws she should and needs to petition the Massachusetts legislators to change the law she deems is in need of revision and not take unilateral decisions to expanding the role of the AG that are clearly not afforded to her. If she needs an interpretation of the law, then she must go to the courts for the ruling, and not act as she feels without any consequences for her unconstitutional actions.
    As a citizen and 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 has violated her role as AG and clearly overstepped her authority. Her job is to enforce laws and not to act as the judiciary of interpreting our laws! 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 over-reaching power.

  5. You are just great, thanks for your service…… NOT!

    Great job as always is the case for DEMs. NOT!

    All of the previous comments made to you have all fallen on your deaf ears, and you are like the rest are unwilling to do the right thing for this Country, this State and the honest citizen who elect you to represent them.

    You just do not care, and as another commenter said “you got no balls”

    SHAME on ALL of YOU!

    All You guys think we are all stupid because we did not go to Harvard. But it is you and the rest of the DEMs that will be found to be very lacking, in intellect, morals, ethics, compassion, and willingness to do the right thing when trying times call for such virtues.

    You Dems preach ,and preach to the rest of us to be honest, law-abiding, pay your taxes, be compassionate,work hard, save your money, obey you elders, etc,etc,etc… but the truth of the matter all of you have none these virtues. All Selfish hypocrites and America is waking up to your lies and misdeeds because our trust has been misplaced in do nothing self serving politicians.

    Without any due respect, because you don’t deserve any respect.What you said is Bull S…t.

    If the AG had issues she should have gone to the courts for the due process you speak of in getting clarification. You are wrong in your backward approach.

    You and the rest of the do nothing elected self serving politicians are making MA and this Great Country into a S…t Hole.

    Thanks to all of you Dems. for making the terrible truth finally come out so we, the honest law-biding citizens, come to truly know what you stand for.

    The DEM Party is dead, find your self another line of dishonest work.

    Now call the IRS to audit me…/isn’t that how it’s done by you guys to keep honest citizens from speaking out?

    God and the good citizens of this GREAT COUNTRY save AMERICA, because you guys are unwilling and incapable of doing the right thing. The SHAME is yours.

  6. Senator, you and others of your kind have almost destroyed this State and Great Country your honorableness service.
    “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

    How our politicians are destroying America in 8 steps !!

    By Richard Lamm as the former DEM. Governor of Colorado 2003.

    “Here is how they do it,” Lamm said: First to destroy America, “Turn America into a bilingual or multi-lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict, and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way: ‘The histories of bilingual and bi-cultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension, and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons, and Corsicans.”

    Lamm went on: Second, to destroy America, “Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences. I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.

    Third, “We could make the United States a ‘Hispanic Quebec’ without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: ‘The apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved! Not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethnocentrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together.’”

    Lamm said, “I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with the salad bowl metaphor. It is important to ensure that we have various cultural subgroups living in America reinforcing their differences rather than as Americans, emphasizing their similarities.”

    “Fourth, I would make our fastest growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. I would have this second underclass have a 50% dropout rate from high school.”

    “My fifth point for destroying America would be to get big foundations and business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of ‘Victimology.’ I would get all minorities to think their lack of success was the fault of the majority. I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.”

    “My sixth plan for America’s downfall would include dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would celebrate diversity over unity. I would stress differences rather than similarities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other – that is, when they are not killing each other. A diverse, peaceful, or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity! Unity is what it takes to keep a nation together. Look at the ancient Greeks. The Greeks believed that they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature; and they worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic Games.

    A common enemy Persia threatened their liberty. Yet all these bonds were not strong enough to over come two factors: local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions. Greece fell.

    “E. Pluribus Unum” — From many, one. In that historical reality, if we put the emphasis on the ‘pluribus’ instead of the ‘Unum,’ we can balkanize America as surely as Kosovo.”

    “Next to last, I would place all subjects off limits ~ make it taboo to talk about anything against the cult of ‘diversity.’ I would find a word similar to ‘heretic’ in the 16th century – that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like ‘racist’ or ‘x! xenophobes’ halt discussion and debate.”

    “Having made America a bilingual/bicultural country, having established multi-culturism, having the large foundations fund the doctrine of ‘Victimology,’ I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws. I would develop a mantra: That because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good. I would make every individual immigrant symmetric and ignore the cumulative impact of millions of them.”

    In the last minute of his speech, Governor Lamm wiped his brow. Profound silence followed. Finally he said, “Lastly, I would censor Victor Hanson Davis’s book Mexifornia. His book is dangerous. It exposes the plan to destroy America. If you feel America deserves to be destroyed, don’t read that book.”

    It is not too late; please consider why, what and how you are doing the best for this Great Country.

  7. Correction

    Democrats the Party of the KKK have No place in this Country! They Make S..t Holes of this State and America, and trample on the US Constitution, the rule of law,the rights of legal citizens, and the American dream! Our State Dems want to turn MA into CA. Isn’t that just wonderful….NOT!


    13th AMENDMENT






    14th AMENDMENT






  8. The Issue needs to be resolved once and for all with the Massachusetts Legislative branch, not the Judicial. Your statement is scapegoating and passing the buck on heavy lifting that needs to be made crystal clear. This is your job PLEASE do it.

  9. I am a huge fan of a civil society yet in this state I find government more interested is generating revenues by whatever means they can. The guns on our streets are not coming from legal sources. They are black marketed to buyers who sell them altered to gang members. Penalize legitimate dealers if they violate the law but not if they are operating legally. Marijuana will increases state revenues. We think guns are a problem with society, I can only imagine what increased drug users will impose on our state in terms of its services to those addicted to this drug by those addicted to revenues.

    1. RE: Ed Mazzuchelli,

      I agree with your discussion on gun control. However, I have to strongly disagree with your thoughts about the Marijuana topic. As a disabled veteran suffering from chronic fatigue and pain I have found that Marijuana in small doses, cbd-oil, etc are all extremely helpful in relieving my pain levels when no other drug would touch it. We are talking about pain levels where the average person would be in the E.R. begging for morphine.

      The fact that we can now grow our own Marijuana makes it very rewarding. It gets me outdoors even when I hurt, and it makes me have a sense of worth by growing my own medicine.

      Historically marijuana is not addictive, I kindly suggest you read a little further in to addiction and use as medicinal products.

      1. First of all let me thank you for your service. you are part of the 1% who give us the freedom we have. I am not sure of your disability but I am sure it is legitimate and if this is the way to treat the pain then you should be able to get the treatment you need. My complaint is not about medical issue but those who scam the system under a pretense of need. The state sees this as a revenue source and they are not looking at it as a benefit to you. In fact recreational marijuana is the issue not medical marijuana.
        You cannot deny that any consumption of a drug will leads to a higher level of usage and to other more potent drugs. It is also the reason for the holdups and shootings we see each night on TV. I am old enough to remember when a shooting was a horrifying event, today it is just another incident. Regrettably I had a young neighbor who started with marijuana and advanced to other drugs ruining his life and that of his parents. The sad part is his life ended do to his addition.

  10. Dear Senator Brownsberger:

    When you chose to serve your nation in uniform, and again when you were sworn into political office, you raised your hand and took “The Oath” to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign AND domestic.

    I too swore that “Oath.” And as you and I both know, there is no statute of limitation on that “Oath,” at least not for men and women of strong character.

    What Maura Healey did was reprehensible. As the Attorney General, it is her responsibility to uphold the law, not violate it. She too swore that “Oath,” but clearly, she meant not a word of it.

    Both you and she were entrusted BY THE PEOPLE with the solemn duty of protecting Massachusetts citizens and upholding the Constitution.

    No man or woman of honor would willfully seek to undermine the rights of the people, but that’s just what Maura Healey has done, and she did it in such an underhanded and cowardly way.

    You say you are a “huge fan” of Maura Healey and I would like to ask why? After usurping the Constitution, what do you find about the integrity of her character that makes you a “huge fan?”

    The more pertinent question is, when should the laws of our state and our Constitution be subverted in favor of your fondness for a woman who has zero guilt about violating the law, her Oath, and the Constitution?

    Words whisper, Senator Brownsberger, but actions shout!

    I have noted your actions (actually, inaction)which tells me that you are not a man of your word. You too have violated your “Oath.”

    Our Founding Fathers would have tarred and feathered both of you and you would have deserved it.

    “…Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.” ~ Samuel Adams, a better man than you’ll ever be.

    VERY sincerely,
    Janet Healy

    1. I just read a reply from Janet Healy my feelings exactly the same,I am a ” HUGE FAN” of Janet Healy. Maura Healy and Brownsberger should definitely be tared and featherd. My 2 cent worth.

      Roger Wolf

  11. Thank you for your timely response and candor when you may disagree with AG Healey on particular issues.

    With regard to the comment above about contact from people outside your district; you sit on the committee that hears these bills before recommendations are made to the General Court. Therefore, contacting you is important and worthwhile.

    While I agree the courts are an avenue for clarification, the legislature can make its intent clear as well through legislation. I hope you’ll consider doing so through the aforementioned bills.

    I believe a legislative solution is preferable to “judge made law.” Our representatives are more accountable to the people than judges with a lifetime appointment.

    For what it’s worth, I’m a 1985 graduate of Belmont High, former business owner in town and Belmont Town Meeting Member. I’m always interested in what goes on at home.
    Thank you for your time.

  12. You say you are a strong supporter of gun control. What do you really know about guns. It is not the guns that violate the law but people. An example of this is bump stocks. While I have never owned one and could care less, I feel that a knee jerk reaction to one event by one person in the entire world was a reaction of fear by politicians. Also, how can something that was legal, all of a sudden it’s illegal and we are told to surrender them. Under the US Constitution the government cannot force a citizen to surrender property without compensation by the government.

  13. It’s fine to be a supporter of gun control if that’s how you feel. But the best gun control is enforcing the laws that are already on the books and not to knee-jerk react to every circumstance. Which is almost always the case.

  14. I sorry, that you would side to spend taxpayer dollars going to court instead of your doing the job you were elected and are paid to do and change the law. The state senate made the same mistake on other matters allowing the vote for legalizing Marijuana instead of doing their jobs. This bill would overturn the changes that Maura Healey “extended the law beyond its intended use”.
    Please, get off the fence.

  15. have some common sense. its not the guns,its the person. losing second amendment rights is the next step for total government control. the main street media and secondary educators have already taken steps to lmit free speech.
    they prevent any speech that’s contrary to their beliefs. how is that working for the people of Rissia,N.Korea, Cuba, Venezuela!

  16. Senator,
    The true definition of an assault rifle is that it must be capable of selective fire, which means it has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and burst/fully automatic fire. This type of firearm is not legal for sale to the general public anywhere in the continental United States. The AR-15 (Armalite model 15 is a semi-automatic rifle. It has been manufactured by multiple firearms companies for many years. They are not Assault Rifles! The AR-15 is a great rifle. It is the very best of the best. It is very versatile and well suited for duty, sport, or defense. It’s the most customizable firearms platform ever designed, bar none! Ms. Healey’s ban on the sale of these rifles was a purely political grandstand in the wake of the Orlando Florida tragedy. She had no legal authority to do so. She does not have the authority to interpret or to change existing laws. This is where we are going down a very dangerous path. Our Freedoms must be always paramount. I have worked for a top three Defense contractor for 35 years. I have held a Department of Defense (DOD) Secrete level of security clearance for over 30 years. In order to hold this level of clearance, I willingly submit to the federal government my personal life. My medical history, my personal finances, my travel movements, and the all of the above relating to my family members. I am able to retain a secret level security clearance with the DOD but I cannot obtain an unrestricted license to carry a firearm in Watertown MA. Why?? I have lived in Watertown for most of my entire life and have a spotless clean record. Why does Watertown have the right to unconstitutionally restrict my 2nd Amendment liberty?? Massachusetts has gone total opposite from 1776.

  17. Representative Brownsburger,
    Let step aside from the 2nd ammendmant for a second and just look what she did/how she did it. Whether she banned shaving razors, certain grocery stores or even books, what she did was wrong and tyranical. Bringing the 2nd ammendmant back into it, what she did was unconstitutional and against why the constitution was put in place. To protect we the people from politicians just like her. This is outrageous that this has been able to go unchallenged for as long as it has.

  18. Yes I agree. Mrs Healey overstepped her authority and set a dangerous precedent. the Courts Interpret the Laws. Her job is to enforce them not interpret them to her political and popular whims. Jim Robie

  19. It is blatantly CLEAR that there is an under current of “Anti-Gun” in the Massachusetts State Legislator. The Attorney General is has exceed her authority under the law and using this against Law Abiding Gun Owners in the State of Massachusetts which I am one of.

    She independently determined what Civil and Constitutional Rights to deprive Residents of the Commonwealth of.

    Law Abiding Gun Owners have been made out to be Criminals by the woman its time the Legislator stand up and override he decision and penalize her. If this had been an AG in Massachusetts withdrawing Rights of Roe V Wade or the Voting Rights Act … the earth under the State House on Beacon Hill would be flooded with protestors and out rage.

    PLEASE, corral this overzealous Hell Bent AG Dictator behavior…..She is Dangerous to Democracy……

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