Federal judge dismisses suit challenging Massachusetts weapon ban

Federal judge dismisses suit challenging Massachusetts weapon ban

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website] on Friday dismissed a lawsuit [opinion, PDF] challenging the Massachusetts weapon ban, finding that the weapons banned fall outside of the scope of the Second Amendment [text].

The law [text] faced controversy from gun owners after Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy [official profile] expanded the definition [press release] of guns to be included under the assault weapons ban in 2016 by including such weapons’ copies or duplicates. The amended law bans the sale of specific and name-brand weapons and bans copies or duplicates of those weapons.

US District Judge William Young ruled that assault weapons are military firearms and thus are not protected under the Second Amendment, thereby making the regulation of such weapons a nonlegal matter, but one of policy. Young opined that since such weapons prohibited under the Massachusetts law were first manufactured for military purposes and is common in the military they are therefore military firearms. He went on to say, “The AR-15 and its analogs, along with large capacity magazines, are simply not weapons within the original meaning of the individual constitutional right to ‘bear arms’.”

This ruling is viewed as consistent with the jurisprudence the late Justice Antonin Scalia set forth in District of Columbia v. Heller [text, PDF], where he explained that “weapons that are most useful in military service—M-16 rifles and the like” are not protected under the Second Amendment and “may be banned.”

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 by the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts [official website] arguing that the law infringed on their Second Amendment rights. The group asserted the law prohibited residents from owning some of the most popular rifles in the United States; however, seeing no merit the argument, Young opined that gun popularity is not “constitutionally material.”

After the recent school shooting in Florida, several states have introduced new gun legislation to, including Vermont, Florida, Illinois, and Oregon [JURIST reports].