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National Group Appeals Decision Upholding Assault Weapons Ban in Massachusetts

A federal judge’s recent ruling upholding Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban has sparked a new chapter in the ongoing legal battle over gun rights. 

The National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR) and Bay State resident Joseph Capen, who challenged the ban, have pledged to appeal the decision, setting the stage for a potential showdown in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2024.

Gun Rights Advocacy Group Plans Appeal 

The lawsuit, filed in September 2022, contests the constitutionality of Massachusetts’ law banning the sale and possession of assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines. 

Capen and NAGR argue that the ban infringes upon their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights to keep and bear arms, claiming that certain firearms are essential for self-defense and other lawful purposes.

US District Court Chief Judge Dennis Saylor denied a request to halt the ban, asserting that the law aligns with the historical tradition of restricting access to “dangerous and unusual weapons” due to their lethal nature and limited utility for self-defense.

In response to the ruling, NAGR’s director of legal affairs, Hannah Hill, announced on social media that the group intends to appeal the decision. 

Hill expressed displeasure, using a holiday-themed metaphor, calling the judge a “Grinch” for denying a preliminary injunction and emphasizing the upcoming appeal in 2024.

The contested statute, based on the 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, prohibits the possession, sale, and transfer of specific semiautomatic assault weapons and magazines with a capacity exceeding ten rounds of ammunition or five shotgun shells. 

Former Gov. Mitt Romney implemented the law after the federal act expired in 2004.

The heart of the legal dispute lies in the interpretation of whether these weapons are “in common use” today, challenging the notion that restrictions on “dangerous and unusual weapons” can apply to contemporary firearms.

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Advocacy Battle and Legislative Reforms

A federal judge’s recent ruling upholding Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban has sparked a new chapter in the ongoing legal battle over gun rights.

While Capen and NAGR assert the widespread use of these weapons, Judge Saylor countered, stating that the history of regulating “dangerous and unusual” weapons dates back to 1791, affirming that such regulations were in place even then.

Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell, who opposed the plaintiff’s request, applauded the court’s decision as a “significant win” for public safety. 

Campbell argues that combat-style assault rifles and large-capacity magazines pose heightened risks without meaningful utility for individual self-defense.

The legal battle unfolds against the backdrop of Massachusetts’ efforts to reform gun laws. In October, the state House approved a comprehensive gun reform bill that has yet to receive action from the Senate. 

The bill aims to update the definition of assault weapons and address issues such as the sale of ghost guns.

As the legal wrangling continues, the clash between gun rights advocates and proponents of stricter gun regulations in Massachusetts remains a focal point, with NAGR issuing warnings to gun owners about potential risks to their rights within the state. 

The upcoming appeal promises to reignite the debate over the balance between individual gun rights and public safety.

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