Attorney General’s Crackdown on Mass. Firearms Dealers

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has recently initiated a “crackdown” on firearms dealers in Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, this enforcement initiative is allegedly promoted by the mass shootings which have occurred.

The Attorney General’s Office has historically been anti-gun. For example, the office uses its consumer protection powers to enact gun control, by restricting licensed dealers from selling certain firearms, which do not meet the Attorney General’s requirements, to private citizens. This prohibition applies only to licensed gun dealers and not to sales conducted between private citizens.

This latest initiative is apparently aimed at Massachusetts Firearms Dealers who are supposedly selling “assault weapons” or “high capacity” magazines. Under G.L. c. 140 § 131M, it is illegal to sell, offer for sale, transfer, or possess these items if they were not lawfully possessed on or before September 13, 1994. It is a felony.

Law enforcement officers, both active and retired, are exempt from this “assault weapons ban.”

The Attorney General’s Office is supposedly sending investigators to gun stores to conduct “spot checks” to ensure compliance with the ban.

The Boston Globe article cited one previous case of a firearms dealer in Westport, Massachusetts who sold Glock handguns which were prohibited for sale in Massachusetts. The prohibition against the sale of these handguns originates from the AG’s consumer protection powers. However, when the state itself or law enforcement agencies is the “consumer,” the regulations do not apply. Only firearms which are on an “approved weapons roster,” which is maintained by the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security at the recommendation of the Gun Control Advisory Board can be sold by dealers in Massachusetts. See 501 CMR 7.00.