As we’ve reported previously, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey took it upon herself to reinterpret the state’s “assault weapon” ban recently to outlaw AR- and AK-style rifles, along with many other semi-auto firearms.
Lawsuits filed this week reveal Healey has launched a sweeping investigation into the safety of firearms made by two companies, Remington and Glock, according to this story from the Boston Globe, that says lawsuits have been filed by both firms to fight Healey’s efforts.
The story says that this year, Healey “invoked her powers” under the state’s consumer protection law to demand that both companies turn over a wide range of documents, including safety-related complaints from customers and the companies’ responses.
In a recently disclosed legal action, Healey says that Block handguns are “prone to accidental discharge.” She referenced news stories about a sheriff’s deputy accidentally firing a Glock handgun in San Francisco’s Hall of Justice, a Los Angeles police officer who was paralyzed when his son accidentally shot him with a Glock, and a Massachusetts man who was dancing at a July 4 party when his Glock pistol discharged while in his pocket, the story says.
Healey is asking gun manufacturers to turn over customer safety complaints because firearms are one of the only products not regulated by the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission, according to a spokesperson.
Both Remington and Glock have sued Healey in Suffolk Superior Court, saying she is abusing her authority by casting a broad net for documents, including those related to accidental discharges, pas lawsuits, legal settlements, and product recalls, the story says.
Glock Inc., based in Smyrna, Georgia, argues that the true purpose of her investigation is to “harass an industry that the attorney general finds distasteful and to make political headlines by pursuing members of the firearm industry.”
“As the chief law enforcement office in Massachusetts, we are seeking that information to better inform our residents and to protect them from any safety or manufacturing issues with guns sold here,” said Cyndi Roy Gonzalez in the Boston Globe story. “It’s unfortunate that these gun manufacturers have taken our office to court rather than comply with a simple request for consumer complaints and related information.”
As far as Glocks go, it doesn’t matter very much to state residents, since regular citizens in Massachusetts aren’t permitted to buy the company’s handguns under state law, which is why Glock argues Healey is misusing her investigative powers “for the ulterior purpose of harassing an out-of-state company that does not engage in in-state consumer sales.”
Healey says in the story that, regardless of the state’s ban, 10,000 Glock handguns were sold in Massachusetts between January 2014 and August 2015. Of that total, she says 2,000 were purchased by law enforcement, but that 8,000 were not. She said the handguns ended up in the hands of Massachusetts consumers “irrespective of whether the sales were made legally or not.”
Yet, the story does not offer an explanation from Healey about how she got such exact figures for guns that were supposedly purchased illegally within her state’s borders, or how those sales were made.
Remington Arms Co., based in Madison, North Carolina, says Healey’s investigation is “unreasonable and excessively burdensome” because she’s asking for product files from every state and country in which Remington sells guns, even though fewer than 1 percent have anything to do with Massachusetts customers.
“Because Healey’s office ‘has provided virtually no information concerning the subject or object of its investigation, one cannot imagine what possible relevance product service files from Hawaii or Manitoba, Canada, could have on the AG’s investigation in Massachusetts,’ Remington states in its lawsuit, filed Monday.
“Remington is asking the court to limit the scope of Healey’s investigation and allow it to remove customer information from the documents it turns over.
“If customer information is not removed, the company argues, its customers’ privacy rights would be violated, conduct protected by the Second Amendment would be chilled, and Remington’s business would be harmed.
“Healey has not yet responded in court to Remington’s accusations.”
Ominously, Healey’s court papers seem to indicate that she is going after more gun companies that just Remington and Glock as “part of a larger series of similar gun safety investigations,” the story says.