Sunday, September 11, 2016

259.1 - Good News: Massachusetts moves against unsafe guns

Good News: Massachusetts moves against unsafe guns

We start with some Good News on a relatively unusual front: guns.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has opened a second front in her efforts to bring some additional gun control to her state.

In July, she moved to bar the sale of guns that had been very slightly altered by, for example, leaving off a flash suppressor, in order to evade the state's ban on assault weapons.

That ban includes a ban on "duplicate" versions of common weapons such as AR-15s and the new move made it clear that the term "duplicate" includes guns that have internal operating systems that are essentially the same as those in the banned weapons or that have key functional components that are interchangeable with those of banned weapons even if the guns were not 100% identical to the banned ones. Much like if M&Ms were illegal, you couldn't produce ones without the M on the shell and claim that they were therefore legal.

This move against duplicate weapons was, she acknowledged, a small step, particularly since most gun violence comes from handguns, but still it was a step.

Now, she has begun an investigation of certain gun manufacturers based on Massachusetts' extensive consumer-protection laws, an investigation of which we know because two major gun makers - Remington and Glock - have sued to try to stop her investigation.

Maura Healey
Among Healey's charges are that the weapons are prone to accidental discharge; and indeed, Remington recently recalled two lines of its rifles manufactured from 2006 through early 2014 for precisely that reason.

The Glock, for its part - and this is particularly important because, of course, the Glock is a handgun - the Glock is notoriously easy to fire with relatively little pressure from the shooter's finger and it has an unconventional trigger safety mechanism which critics say doesn't work as well as it should. Which means the gun going off when you didn't intend or want it to is likewise notoriously easy and indeed, Healey's filing in response to Glock's suit noted several such cases, including one where a Glock went off in a man's pocket as he was dancing.

The company's response to the claim it is too easy to fire unintentionally, by the way, is that with proper training and careful technique, accidental discharges can be avoided. Which it seems to me translates to "guilty as charged."

As a bit of a sidebar, Glock claimed in its court filing that Healey's "true purpose" was to "make political headlines," which, when you consider that the reason we have heard about the investigation is because of Glock and Remington suing to try to block it, is rather funny.

Healey wants a range of documents relating to consumer safety issues such as consumer complaints, accidental discharges, past lawsuits, legal settlements, and product recalls and Remington and Glock may not be the only gun makers receiving the call for the documents: In her office's response to Glock's suit it was said that both companies are "part of a larger series of similar gun safety investigations."

Which makes the Good News even better.

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