Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Federal Judge Enjoins Massachusetts Gun Store Lockdown

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Gun stores struggle to remain open during national crisis. READ MORE

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NRA-ILA

Last week, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction that allows gun stores to resume operation in the Bay State as long as they adhere to a set of social distancing guidelines. The ruling is an important victory in the fight to protect Second Amendment rights during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required the closure of all businesses not deemed “essential.” The order did not designate gun stores as “essential” businesses.

On March 28, the Trump administration updated the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) guidance on the critical infrastructure that should remain open during state shutdown orders due to COVID-19. The guidance identified “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as critical infrastructure.

Following the federal government’s determination, on March 31, Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21. Complying with the DHS guidelines, the order designated firearms retailers as “essential” businesses.

However, later that same day the Baker administration removed firearm retailers and shooting ranges from the list of essential businesses. This reversal was cheered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who declared to her Twitter followers, “Gun shops and shooting ranges are NOT essential businesses during a public health emergency.”

On April 9, a group of Massachusetts gun stores filed suit to halt Baker’s gun store closure on Second Amendment grounds. Later that month, NRA and its state affiliate Gun Owners’ Action League filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

In the amicus brief, NRA made clear that Baker’s orders were an impermissible violation of the Second Amendment. The brief pointed out that in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a total ban on the acquisition of a single class of firearm — handguns. Baker’s order effectively prohibited the acquisition of all classes of firearms in Massachusetts and therefore are illegal under Supreme Court precedent.

Further, the brief noted that Baker’s order was impermissible under First Circuit precedent. In the 2018 case Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted a controversial two-step analysis for Second Amendment cases. First the court must determine “whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.” If the measure does implicate the Second Amendment right then the court is tasked with determining what level of scrutiny to apply to the measure and whether the law is permissible under that level of scrutiny.

In Gould, the First Circuit “identified the core of the Second Amendment right as ‘the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home’ by responsible, law-abiding individuals.” As Baker’s order foreclosed the ability to acquire firearms for this purpose, the order struck at the core of the Second Amendment right.

The First Circuit also made clear in Gould that “A law or policy that burdens conduct falling within the core of the Second Amendment requires a correspondingly strict level of scrutiny.” Therefore analysis of the Baker orders demands strict scrutiny.

Strict scrutiny requires that the Government prove the restriction furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. A closure of all firearms-related businesses is not narrowly tailored. Moreover, the state cannot demonstrate that a blanket closure of firearm retailers will directly or materially alleviate the harms posed by COVID-19 considering the plaintiffs challenging the order stated that they would abide by all social distancing and workforce requirements for the operation of essential businesses.

Woodlock’s order underscores the excessive nature of Baker’s actions, as the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rigorous. A plaintiff must show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, show that there is irreparable harm without the injunction, demonstrate that the balance of equities is in their favor, and establish that the injunction is in the public interest. In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Woodlock made clear that Baker’s orders are likely unconstitutional, cause irreparable harm to Bay Staters’ rights, and that this attack on Second Amendment rights was against the public interest.

According to Reuters, Baker told the press that his office will review Woodlock’s order and stated, “[w]e will certainly comply with any kind of judicial ruling on anything.” Sincere compliance with a lawful court order would mark a welcome change in the Baker administration. In late 2018, the Baker administration declared its intent to defy court orders issued by the state’s courts pertaining to the issuance of firearms licenses before backing down in early 2019.

NRA will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and work to ensure that Second Amendment rights are not a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Please visit HERE to stay up-to-date on this and other important COVID-19 related Second Amendment issues.

Get the Hect Outta Here: Police Chief Suspended After Students Complain About Pro-Gun “Likes”

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Seems that being a President Trump supporter and accepting a Christmas Card from NRA constitutes grounds for suspension. READ ALL ABOUT THIS.

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SOURCE: NRA-ILA

Smith and Mount Holyoke Colleges are two liberal arts institutions for women in the western part of Massachusetts. Both share a campus police department that until recently was overseen by Chief Daniel Hect, who took command February 18 of this year. Less than two months later, however, Hect finds himself on administrative leave after a wave of discontent following students’ scrutiny of his social media accounts. The main complaints, at least according to the students themselves, center on Chief Hect having “liked” tweets that in some cases were issued by the National Rifle Association and in others were supportive of the president of the United States.

An April 9 article by The Sophian student newspaper at Smith described Hect as being “surrounded in controversy” after “students at Mount Holyoke found his Twitter page and pointed out several tweets he had liked.” The three tweets mentioned included one in which another Twitter user had written “Stay the course Pres. Trump.” A second was by another Twitter user who wrote, “BUILD THAT WALL.” The third supposedly offensive post was by the NRA and simply stated, “The National Rifle Association wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas!”

The article continued, “After spring break, the Mount Holyoke student body rose up on social media against this new hire and the sentiments that he brings to the campus by urging students to attend a community forum on March 21 with Hect himself.”

What, if any, other evidence of those “sentiments” the students uncovered is not explained in the article. The article does mention several attempts Chief Hect made to engage with students and allay their concerns.

A March 28 article from the Mount Holyoke News detailed one such event, describing it as featuring “tension and tears.” According to that article, “The concerns at the heart of the event primarily involved Hect’s social media presence, particularly on Twitter,” and specifically, “many of his liked tweets come from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and President Donald Trump.”

During the event, according to the article, Hect described his professional background and his philosophy on campus law enforcement. He told the students that the department under his leadership plans to “focus on community engagement [and students] getting to know the campus police as human beings.”

Yet the article noted:
Most of the night’s questions … circled back to what the new chief’s social media history revealed about his apparent political alignment. Conversation centered around Hect’s political ideology, with particular emphasis given to the topics of immigration reform, police brutality and his personal opinions on Trump and the NRA.

It also focused on a particular student who was drawn to the event by the “possibility of Trump-supporting chief of police” and who told the reporter she had trust issues with police, “especially someone I’d heard might be a Trump supporter.”

The article reported that Hect denied during the event that he supports Donald Trump and strongly condemned police brutality, adding that he had used his tenure at another department to weed out officers “we shouldn’t have in uniform.” He also apologized for expressing support for the border wall, calling it, “a huge mistake.”

Yet another Sophian article from yet another event where Hect tried to engage concerned students focused on his Twitter “likes.” An unidentified student mentioned in that article characterized “the tweets he liked” as “against her and her existence because, to him, she was an ‘illegal.’” Hect told students at that event he did not intend to resign.

This week, however, Hect was placed on administrative leave by both colleges.

A brief notice to the Smith campus community from college president Kathleen McCartney attributed the move to “members of our campus community hav[ing] voiced a lack of trust” in Chief Hect.” No further explanation was provided.

In an undated “update,” president Sonya Stephens of Mount Holyoke cited “concerns about the ability of Chief Daniel Hect to develop the level of trust required to engage in community policing” as the basis for his suspension from duty. The update flatly denied that Chief Hect was “put on leave for social media or political views” and insisted that neither is taken into account in the college’s hiring process.

What other concerns might exist about Chief Hect, however, remain unexplained.

Media coverage and the explanations of students themselves continue to focus on Hect’s social media likes and politics. Newsweek cited “[s]tudent’s frustration towards Hect’s political affiliation and personal beliefs,” as reflected in his “social media activity.” Masslive.com and the Daily Hampshire Gazette quoted the statements of the college presidents but gave no explanation for the students’ discontent other than Hect’s social media activity. Radio station WHMP reported on the story under the headline, “Joint Smith, Mt. Holyoke Police Chief Suspended for Social Media Activity.”

Meanwhile, a Dailywire article quoted a student who shared screenshots of the supposedly offensive tweets as stating that it was

unacceptable for someone in charge of keeping any community safe, let alone a campus as diverse as MHC’s, to be publicly displaying his support for hateful regimes and organizations, as well as for individuals who demonize migrants from Mexico or other latin american nations.

A glowing tribute to Chief Hect from the student newspaper at Denison University painted a very different portrait of the long-time law enforcement professional as he left for an appointment at Xavier University. “Denison wishes him nothing but the best,” it stated.

Unfortunately for Chief Hect, it was actually the worst that was yet to come.

Massachusetts AG Effectively, Unilaterally Bans AR-15s and State-Compliant Variants

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Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts,
Maura Healey, attorney general of Massachusetts,

Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, recently rewrote the state’s 1998 Gun Control Act to reinterpret what it had meant since 1998.

Writing in the Boston Globe, Healey outlined the changes:

— The Massachusetts assault weapons ban mirrors the federal ban Congress allowed to expire in 2004. It prohibits the sale of specific weapons like the Colt AR-15 and AK-47 and explicitly bans “copies or duplicates” of those products.

— “Copies or duplicates” mean “state compliant” versions of Modern Sporting Rifles sold in Massachusetts. Such “state compliant” versions lack a flash suppressor, a folding or telescoping stock, or other helpful shooter features. The AG will notify all gun manufacturers and dealers to make clear that the sale of semi-auto rifles with certain features is now illegal in Massachusetts.

— The effect could mean that all AR-15s that have been modified to comply with Massachusetts law are now illegal purely because they are AR-15s. This could eventually outlaw all semi-automatic weapons in the state, which should violate D.C. v Heller’s explicit “common use” standard.

— Healey said in her Globe article that “if a gun’s operating system is essentially the same as that of a banned weapon, or if the gun has components that are interchangeable with those of a banned weapon, it’s a ‘copy’ or ‘duplicate,’ and it is illegal.”

Bottom Line: Some of our customers in Middle America will notice this state-law change and not be too concerned about it, because it is Massachusetts, and things like this are to be expected there.

Quite a few of our customers and fellow countrymen in the Bay State are now in limbo because basic AR-15 parts may turn a vanilla semi-auto rifle into “copies or duplicates” of those products.

Will this turn into another nudge in the direction of our fellow Americans losing their rights? There seems to have been a precedent set with California cities banning firearms, the strict laws placed in Chicago (which seems to be working, he lied), and other “leaders” treating their constituents more like an authoritarian society.

Hopefully the people of Massachusetts sound off in a clear, unified, voice at the ballot box this November.