04 Oct Senator Don Humason files bill stripping Attorney General Maura Healey’s authority on firearms sales in Massachusetts
By: Gintautas Dumcius
BOSTON – A day after gun rights activists flooded the streets outside the Massachusetts State House to protest Attorney General Maura Healey, state Sen. Don Humason said he’s filed legislation in response to her crackdown on assault-style weapons.
Humason, R-Westfield, referred to Healey’s decision to step up enforcement on what she called “copycat” weapons as “unclear” and an “overreaching attempt to reinterpret the intention of the Legislature on this issue.”
“As recently as 2014 we debated the state’s gun laws, and to my best recollection this concern was not expressed by a single member in either branch during that debate or the previous sixteen years the Legislature debated this issue,” Humason said in a statement.
Humason’s bill would strip from Healey’s office its authority to issue rules and regulations on firearms sales in Massachusetts, according to the senator’s office. The language in the bill is available below.
According to Humason’s office, the bill has support from state Sens. Vinny deMacedo, R-Plymouth, and Anne Gobi, D-Spencer, and state Reps. David DeCoste, R-Norwell, Shawn Dooley, R-Nortfolk, Tim Whelan, R-Brewster, and David Muradian, R-Grafton.
After the Saturday gun rally, which was attended by several of the aforementioned lawmakers, a Healey spokeswoman said the office’s enforcement notice to manufacturers clearly stated “copycat assault weapons are illegal and have been in Massachusetts since 1998.”
“For far too long, the gun industry has been allowed to flout our state assault ban,” Jillian Fennimore, the spokeswoman, said in an email.
“Claims that we are changing the law and taking guns away from law-abiding citizens are inaccurate and misinformed,” she added. “Our office will continue to work with the gun industry, including manufacturers and dealers, so they understand the law and comply with it.”
But Humason said the notice “flies in the face of the transparent and accessible government that residents expect and we work to ensure.”
“Public input and deliberative debate is critical when we are considering changes to laws regarding citizens’ constitutional rights,” he said in a release on his legislation.
Humason’s office provided a copy of the language in his bill:
SECTION 1. Section 2 of Chapter 93A of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2008 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting, in line 11, after the word “chapter” the following words: provided that such rules and regulations shall not govern, limit, or otherwise relate to weapons as defined in Section 121 of Chapter 140, the manufacture of weapons or the sale of weapons. Further, that any such rule or regulations having previously being promulgated are hereby repealed.”
Humason’s bill is a longshot at this point: The Legislature is wrapping up work on major bills on July 31 and lawmakers’ focus will then turn to the campaign trail. The July agenda includes overrides of Gov. Charlie Baker’s budget vetoes and bills on municipal finance reform, regulating companies like Uber and Lyft, dealing with non-compete agreements, and economic development.
Lawmakers will continue to meet in informal sessions at the State House for the rest of the year, but the agendas usually include non-controversial matters.
Humason’s Senate district includes parts of Chicopee and Agawam, Easthampton, Holyoke, Westfield, Granville, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick and Tolland.