Metro

GOAL says it will rally against Healey’s ‘rogue’ actions on assault weapons

Bolton, MA - 7/20/2016 - Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey speaks during a news conference to announce the enforcement of a ban on the sale of copycat assault rifles in Bolton, MA, July 20, 2016. 1(Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)
Keith Bedford/Globe staff
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey will tighten enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban.

The Gun Owners’ Action League, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, is calling for gun owners to rally at the State House this weekend against what it says are “rogue” actions by Attorney General Maura Healey, who announced Wednesday she would tighten enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban.

Healey said her office will crack down on a loophole that, she said, circumvents the ban by allowing customers to buy “copies” of guns made illegal by the ban.

The GOAL rally is planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at the front steps of the State House. Legislators are gathering Saturday under the golden dome for a rare weekend session.

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“Rally against rogue actions by MA Attorney General Maura Healey, who decided to make hundreds of thousands of law-abiding gun owners ‘felons in waiting’ via her sneak attack action posted this week while the legislature was away,” the organization said in a statement.

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The organization said Wednesday that manufacturers and dealers were blindsided by Healey’s announcement.

Healey sent a directive to all gun manufacturers and dealers in the state advising them that assault rifles with small modifications, like the removal of a flash suppressor or featuring a fixed instead of a folding stock, will be considered illegal under the state’s assault weapons ban because, she ssaid, they are functionally identical to the banned weapons.

The ban previously prohibited the sale of “copies” or “duplicates,” but it left it up to the manufacturers and dealers to decide what fell in that category. The modified rifles were deceptively marketed as state-complaint, Healey said.

“We’ve understood the rules for almost 20 years now,” Jim Wallace, the executive director of GOAL, said Wednesday. “And now we have one person who has come in, unilaterally, and said those are not the rules anymore.”

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Healey’s announcement Wednesday sparked a rush on gun sales as stores remained open until midnight and encouraged customers to buy the guns on the last day possible in Massachusetts.

Dylan McGuinness can be reached at dylan.mcguinness@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DylMcGuinness.