A federal judge ruled a Massachusetts law prohibiting the possession and sale of some semiautomatic weapons is constitutional.

Joseph Capen, a Massachusetts resident, and the National Association for Gun Rights challenged the legislation, arguing it violates their right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

According to the Boston Herald, Capen alleges the law prevents him from purchasing certain firearms and magazines “to keep in his home for self-defense and other lawful purposes.”

However, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Dennis Saylor denied the request to halt the ban.

Bloomberg Law reports:

The banned weapons “are unreasonably dangerous for ordinary purposes of self-defense due to their extreme lethality and high potential for collateral harm,” Chief Judge Dennis Saylor wrote in an order denying the gun rights group’s request to halt enforcement of the law.

The US Supreme Court held last year in New York State Rifles & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen that state governments must prove a regulation would have been consistent with the nation’s historical regulation of firearms.

Saylor’s decision helps build the jurisprudence for the types of state regulations that remain acceptable under the Second Amendment post-Bruen as many states grapple with challenges to their weapon laws. States like Illinois, California, and Connecticut have also been allowed to move forward enforcing their assault weapon bans.

“The relevant history affirms the principle that in 1791, as now, there was a tradition of regulating ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons—specifically, those that are not reasonably necessary for self-defense,” the order said, and the current restrictions “pose a minimal burden on the right to self-defense and are comparably justified to historical regulation.”

The National Association for Gun Rights vowed to appeal the judge’s ruling to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2024.

“And the Grinch Award goes to our MA judge, who totally tried to ruin Christmas with this denial of preliminary injunction in our lawsuit to overturn the Romney assault weapons ban,” National Association for Gun Rights Executive Director Hannah Hill said.

From the Boston Herald:

The statute at issue, modeled after the 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, prohibits the possession, sale, and transfer of certain semiautomatic assault weapons and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition or more than five shotgun shells.

Then-Gov. Mitt Romney implemented the statute after the federal act expired in 2004.

Capen and NAGR claimed restrictions on “dangerous and unusual weapons” cannot apply to today’s firearms because they are “in common use.”

Saylor, however, countered: “The relevant history affirms the principle that in 1791, as now, there was a tradition of regulating ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons — specifically, those that are not reasonably necessary for self-defense.”


Attorney General Andrea Campbell in February opposed the plaintiff’s request, saying that “combat-style assault rifles and large-capacity magazines … pose an inordinate risk to the safety of the public and law enforcement officers, with no meaningful utility for individual self-defense.”

On Friday, Campbell called the court’s decision a “significant win that will protect the public and continue Massachusetts’ leadership on gun violence prevention.”

Read the full ruling HERE.

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