Normally when you see a change in a state’s gun laws it comes in the form of a new, hotly debated bill which is passed by the legislature and then perhaps signed by the governor. Not so in the Bay State, however, where the Attorney General recently widely expanded a ban on so called “assault rifles” with the stroke of a pen. And it’s got consumers flooding their local gun shops in response. (Boston Globe)

“Today is your LAST DAY to purchase a semi-automatic rifle in Massachusetts!” [Mass Firearms School] wrote in an e-mail blast to its customers.

The stores were responding to an order Healey issued to the state’s 350 gun dealers telling them to immediately stop selling “duplicate” versions of common assault rifles like the AR-15, which she argues are illegal under the state’s 1998 assault weapons ban.

The law bans duplicate weapons but has left it to gun manufacturers to define which weapons would fall into that category.

Manufacturers exploited that “loophole,” she said, to produce assault rifles that had “small tweaks” but were functionally identical to the banned weapons. Some, for example, had no flash suppressor or featured a fixed instead of a folding stock.

This move has had customers, gun rights advocates and even legislators scrambling in response, primarily because the AG is dragging the state into uncharted waters in terms of gun control laws. There was already a ban on “assault rifles” in the state which everyone had grudgingly come to live with, but Attorney General Maura Healey has just rewritten the law on nothing more than her own whim.

Supposedly, the previous definition of “assault rifles” was based on various cosmetic fixtures and attachments, none of which alter the unerdlying functionality of the weapon system. These include items like flash suppressors or a folding stock. Shops selling semiautomatic rifles without such features were allowed to do business. But Healey’s new unilateral directive states that any rifle with the same, “internal operating systems that are essentially the same as illegal assault weapons, or have key functional components that are interchangeable with those of banned weapons” will now be banned as well.

In case you didn’t catch the implication of that statement, it means that essentially every semiautomatic rifle on the market is now banned.

This has had consumers lining up around the block to get their purchases in under the wire, as reported by AWR Hawkins at Breitbart.

WCVB reports that Four Seasons gun shop in Woburn sent out an email as soon as it learned of Healey’s directive. The email said the store would not be able to sell AR-15s or other guns categorized as “assault weapons” after July 20. Bruce Sterling rushed to the gun store, saying, “It seemed like it made a lot of sense to come and get an AR-15 today.”

The gun store ended up with “a line out the door.”

As Hawkins goes on to note, there’s some very real irony in this kerfuffle. There is little to no functional difference between what liberals refer to as “assault rifles” and any conventional semiautomatic hunting rifle. Yes, there are reasons to have flash suppressors or different designs of stocks and barrel lengths depending on your needs, but the underlying machinery of the weapons platform remains the same. Anti-gun rights groups are forced to base their entire argument on these largely cosmetic distinctions. In Massachusetts they based their original law on the importance of these “features” when it was written, but the Attorney General is now claiming that she has to replace the entire law because those distinctions apparently have no meaning.

Excuse me, Madam, but that’s what we’ve been trying to tell you all along.

AR15