AG Maura Healey Takes Aim at Copycat Assault Rifles

It looks like one, it shoots like one, so it is one, Healey says.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey arrives at a meeting of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Boston. Healey said her office will submit recommendations around gambling consumer protection issues soon. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Photo via AP

No more knock-off AR-15s in Massachusetts, says Attorney General Maura Healey.

The state’s top prosecutor on Wednesday announced she has sent a directive to gun makers to no longer sell weapons in Massachusetts that are similar enough to assault rifles to kill like assault rifles, but not similar enough to trigger the statewide ban—or so they thought.

Massachusetts bans high-powered guns like the ones used in recent mass shootings, an effort to extend at the local level a federal ban that expired in 2004. Gun companies, though, are crafty, and they’ve been selling sort-of-but-not-quite assault rifles that also have immense capacity for shooting things, Healey writes in a Boston Globe op-ed published today. She also announced the crackdown at a news conference in her office this morning. She writes:

The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific weapons like the Colt AR-15 and AK-47 and explicitly bans “copies or duplicates” of those weapons. But gun manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to define what a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon is.

They market “state compliant” copycat versions of their assault weapons to Massachusetts buyers. They sell guns without a flash suppressor or folding or telescoping stock, for example, small tweaks that do nothing to limit the lethalness of the weapon.

The arsenal for sale in the “MA Compliant” page of the website for Springfield-based Smith & Wesson, for example, is not all that distinguishable from the guns listed in the company’s regular old rifle section.

It’s been a busy week for Healey, who was just in New York yesterday to announce a lawsuit against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche related to the fuel emissions scandal.

By the way, for anyone who believes Massachusetts doesn’t have an appetite for high-powered weaponry: Healey’s office estimates that a whopping 10,000 “copycat” assault rifles were sold in the state last year, according to the State House News Service.

Today’s announcement: