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Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, announced on Wednesday that the state of Massachusetts will be cracking down on the sale of all “new assault weapons.” The ban will prevent the sale of any weapon labeled an “assault weapon” by the state, such as semi-automatic versions AR-15s and AK-47s, as well as any weapons with similar operating systems. This means that all semi automatic sporting rifles are being pulled from shelves across the state based on the misconception that their aesthetic designs and modifications somehow make them more dangerous than other models with the same operating systems.

By definition, an assault rifle is a firearm capable of selective-fire automatic and/or burst modes. These modes allow the weapon to fire off rounds faster than even the most skilled shooters in the Untied States. This functionality makes an assault rifle far more destructive and dangerous than their semi-automatic counterparts. The “crack down” will focus not on assault rifles but assault weapons. The definition of an assault weapon generally varies but usually includes semi-automatic firearms with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip, and sometimes other features such as a flash suppressor or barrel shroud. Assault weapons are not capable of the automatic or burst modes, making them far less dangerous than an assault rifle and no different than your standard hunting rifle.

Healey’s decision to ban assault weapons reveals a shocking level of naivety and down right incompetence. Healy has stated they will be preventing distributors and manufacturers from selling semi-automatic weapons based on the idea that, because the guns share superficial traits such as collapsable stocks or barrel suppressors, they are somehow just as dangerous as an assault rifle and have “similar operating systems.” She stated during a press conference:

“If a gun’s operating system is essentially the same as a banned weapon or if the gun has component parts that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon, it’s a copy,”

Healey’s announcement was quickly criticized because, as explained above, the operating systems of an assault weapon and an assault rifle are not “essentially the same.” The wording of the law allows state democrats to ban the sale of any gun with features similar, but not the same, as an assault rifle.

Healey will not be introducing any new laws to disarm the people of Massachusetts. Instead they will be strictly enforcing an “assault weapon” ban first signed into action in 1998. She states that she was motivated to enforce the ban after 10,000 assault weapons were sold in the state last year and sales of some increased 450 percent in the week after the Orlando nightclub shooting in June.

Rather than addressing the underlying issues that cause mass shootings, such as religious radicalism, untreated mental health issues, and the restrictive “gun free zone” laws that create bastions of easy targets Healey is targeting the weapons themselves. All new “assault weapons” have been pulled from the shelves from gun stores in Massachusetts. Gun store owners have been given the “privilege” of transferring their stock to more reasonable where the semi-automatic weapons are legal. Healy has stated that they have sent notices to all 350 gun dealers in the state, warning them the weapons are now prohibited.

Residents of the state that have already purchased these weapons will not be targeted according to Healey, for now. Any resident that owns an “assault weapon” will be able to keep them.

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