In a recent ruling, a federal judge has affirmed that Massachusetts’ ban on assault weapons aligns with a landmark Supreme Court decision emphasizing the need for firearms regulations to be consistent with the nation’s “historical tradition.” U.S. District Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, in his Thursday order, highlighted that the historical context supports the regulation of “dangerous and unusual” weapons, emphasizing their lack of necessity for ordinary self-defense.
The banned assault weapons in Massachusetts are deemed “not suitable for ordinary self-defense purposes” and are recognized to pose substantial dangers beyond those inherent in typical firearms design, according to the judge’s order. The state law, enacted in 1998 and addressing some semiautomatic weapons and large-capacity magazines, became permanent after a similar federal statute expired in 2004.
The pivotal Supreme Court decision, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, was issued in June 2022, expanding gun rights nationwide while stressing the importance of aligning firearms rules with the nation’s historical tradition. Approximately three months later, the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and a Massachusetts resident filed a complaint challenging the assault weapons ban, arguing it violated their constitutional rights.
The NAGR, expressing intent to appeal the decision, emphasizes its commitment to legal action. Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Joy Campbell praised the ruling as a “significant win,” asserting that gun safety laws can be enforced in line with public safety and the Second Amendment. Campbell sees the decision as a crucial step in upholding Massachusetts’ leadership in gun violence prevention.