Attorney General Maura Healey today announced an end to a loophole she said had let gun makers continue to sell high-powered weaponry in Massachusetts.
Under an "enforcement order" issued yesterday, Healey has banned the sale of "copycat" weapons that had the same functionality as the AR-15 and AK-47 but which were not specifically named in the state law banning the sale of assault weapons.
Some 10,000 of these weapons were purchased in Massachusetts last year, Healey said in a statement.
The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban that expired in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific and name-brand weapons and explicitly bans copies or duplicates of those weapons. Gun manufacturers, however, make and market what they call “state compliant” versions with minor tweaks to various parts of the weapon. Copycat guns are sold, for example, without a flash suppressor or with a fixed instead of folding stock. These changes do not make the weapon any less lethal and the weapons remain illegal.
The AG’s notice clarifies what constitutes a copy or duplicate weapon by outlining two tests. Under the tests, a weapon is a copy or duplicate if its internal operating system is essentially the same as those of a specifically-banned weapon or if the gun has key functional components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon.
The notice also states that assault weapons prohibited under state law, as manufactured, cannot be altered in any way to make their sale or possession legal in Massachusetts.
The notice makes clear that the guidance will not be enforced against gun owners who bought or sold these weapons prior to July 20, 2016.