In today’s Herald News there is a feature story regarding a federally licensed firearms dealer getting arrested for selling “illegal” handguns in Massachusetts.
Not surprisingly the article is full of errors and misinformation, including from the police department quoted.
We’ll go through the article here and correct the numerous errors, which we will note in red text.
FALL RIVER — A federally licensed firearms dealer in Westport is facing felony charges of selling illegal handguns to customers.
Richard Pacheco, 67, owner of Richie’s Sporting Supply at 217 Mouse Mill Road, is charged with 13 counts of improper sale of a firearm, according to the Westport Police Department.
Police allege that Pacheco sold numerous Glock-model 42 and 43 handguns — which are illegal for civilians to possess in Massachusetts — to several customers earlier this year. Westport police detectives say they found records corresponding to the sales after executing a search warrant at the business.
Error: The Glock model 42 and 43 are perfectly legal for a MA resident to possess and own. The catch is that these handguns cannot be legally transferred or sold by a federally licensed dealer in Massachusetts to a licensed individual.
When it comes to selling (transferring) handguns, the Commonwealth of MA currently has a very convoluted and confusing set of laws and regulations, which dealers must follow in order to be compliant with the law. Firearms, which are approved for dealers to transfer appear on a list that is published by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the list features this language at the top:
This roster has been compiled in accordance with M.G.L. c.140, § 131¾ and 501 CMR 7.00. It contains weapons determined by Massachusetts approved independent testing laboratories to have satisfactorily completed the testing requirements of M.G.L. c.140, § 123; clauses 18th; 19th; 20th; and 21st. The reports resulting from said tests were reviewed by the Gun Control Advisory Board and those makes and models listed herein were subsequently approved by the Secretary of Public Safety and Security as having complied with the statutory handgun testing provisions of M.G.L. c. 140, § 123.
- Child-safety features – 940 CMR 16.05(2), (4)
- Load indicators and magazine safety disconnects for semi-automatic handguns – 940 CMR 16.05 (3), (4)
- Tamper-resistant serial numbers 940 CMR 16.03
Lets go over that again, MA has a list of handguns (EOPS list), which are approved for sale. To get on that list a handgun must meet certain “safety” requirements, which are outlined in the regulations and laws noted in the header of the approved roster. After meeting all of that criteria and obtaining approval from the state, the gun must also meet the three additional requirements listed in 940 CMR 16.00.
Got that? Basically it breaks down like this, the consumer sales acts outlined above only apply to licensed dealers and what they can sell or transfer, they have no bearing on what an individual can legally own, possess, or transfer to another licensed individual.
On to the story.
Westport Police Detective Jeff Majewski said the Glock 43 is not legal to be sold in Massachusetts while the 42-model can only be sold to law enforcement.
Wrong again, the GLOCK 43 can be legally sold in MA, as long as it’s from licensed individual to licensed individual, AKA a “private sale”. The story continues.
The New Bedford police applicant said he had purchased, from Pacheco’s store, a Glock 23-model, 40-caliber handgun — which is not supposed to be sold to civilians in Massachusetts — and three restricted high-capacity, 13-round magazines, Majewski said, adding that only law enforcement officers in Massachusetts can possess magazines over 10 rounds.
Wrong and wrong again. There are many Glock model 23 handguns, which can legally be sold or transferred by dealers as long as they were manufactured before 10/21/1998. If the gun is made after the cut off date they may still be sold privately from individual to individual as outlined above. The magazine information is also wrong, there are many magazines, which hold more than 10 rounds that can be legally possessed in Massachusetts as long as they were manufactured before 9/13/94.
So there you have it, the story continued discussing the arrest, arraignment etc.
It should be noted that the Commonwealth has set in motion a system in which the state can punish licensed dealers simply because they sold a firearm that didn’t appear on the correct list. Many times the list can include a make and model of firearm, the Glock 23 for example, which can be sold legally, or not, depending on when it was manufactured.
To take it further, lets look at the 1911 pistol as a great example of how ridiculous the regulations are. The 1911 model .45 caliber pistol has now been in use for 104 years, it has remained virtually unchanged. The design is so old that patent laws no longer apply to it, anyone with the correct license can manufacture them. Despite this there are many high quality 1911’s from manufacturers like Kimber and Springfield Armory that cannot be sold by a dealer in MA because the manufacturer doesn’t want to invest the time and effort to go through MA’s approval process.
Identical firearms in every aspect, some can be sold, and some cannot. All can be possessed legally though if an individual is duly licensed. Confusing isn’t it? To make matters worse MA can and will prosecute dealers who get it wrong.
Going forward GOAL continues to work with the legislature towards repealing these discretionary and unconstitutional regulations and laws. We have filed Senate Bill S.1272 to address this.
An Act Relative to the Lawful Sale of Handguns – Senate Bill S.1272
Currently in Massachusetts we have two separate schemes that control the manufacture and sale of handguns in Massachusetts.
The first is the Attorney General’s regulations 940 CMR 16.00 that was originally initiated by Scott Harshbarger in an attempt to ban handguns without the consent of the legislature. The so-called authority to do so was predicated on the use of Chapter 93A “Consumer Protection Laws”. The Attorney General’s office could not find a single case of a consumer being harmed by a poorly manufactured handgun. Nonetheless the regulations were enacted.
The second scheme was passed into law with the 1998 Gun Control Act. The law is currently laid out in Section 123 of Chapter 140. This section provides testing and performance standards, how they were drafted no one seems to know. However, with these standards a manufacturer can submit their product for independent testing. Should the product meet the requirements they are then added to a roster of approved firearms.
The conflict now arises due to the fact that the Attorney General’s office does not formally recognize the official roster of approved firearms and warns licensed retailers of possible conflicts. Essentially what we have is a situation where two government entities from the same government are using different schemes to enforce their authority over lawful products.
This bill simply removes the Attorney General’s authority to regulate weapons and repeals the previous regulations. Click here for more information on this bill
We look forward to working towards getting this legislation passed; the current regulations and laws which have been discussed above do nothing to promote public safety. By prosecuting these laws the Commonwealth is wasting much needed resources, which should be utilized for prosecuting criminals who present a threat to a peaceful and law abiding public.