Gun Advocates Take Maura Healey to Court

They say the attorney general's ban on 'copycat' assault weapons is unconstitutional.

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

It inspired backlash from gun groups, a rally at the State House, and condemnation from without and within, and now Maura Healey’s ban on “copycat” assault rifles has led to a lawsuit.

Four gun stores and a national firearms trade group are taking the attorney general to court, alleging that her recent attempt to curb the sales of the guns—which look and act a lot like the kinds of firearms banned by a state assault weapons ban, but had until recently been sold openly and marketed as “MA Compliant”—is unconstitutional and denied the gun industry and consumers due process.

“This is a clearly naked political play by a zealous anti-gun politician simply looking to advance her political career at the expense of law-abiding gun owners in the state by turning hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners and businesses into felons overnight with the stroke of a pen,” Lawrence Keane of the trade group, the Connecticut-based National Shooting Sports Foundation, said in August.

Healey sent a directive to gun-sellers and manufacturers about the expanded list of banned weapons in July. Outrage came swiftly after, as did a rush on the weapons at gun stores.

Since then, she has marshaled the support of national advocates for tightened gun restrictions and the state’s entire Congressional delegation. Oh, and Chris Evans.

Healey, who also spent the summer poking another one of the big bears in American politics—Big Oil—is also being sued by gun manufacturers Remington and Glock. She requested documents from both about safety concerns with the firearms they produce; the companies allege her requests a “fishing expedition.”

In this latest obstacle for a local politician who is increasingly getting involved in topics of national interest, a Healey spokeswoman tells the Globe the AG’s office is ready for a fight.

“For far too long the gun industry has taken it upon itself to interpret the state’s assault weapons ban to allow these unlawful sales, so it’s no surprise that the gun lobby has challenged our enforcement,” press secretary Jillian Fennimore says in a statement. “We look forward to defending in court our efforts to ensure that residents get the full protection of the law.”