In the "Take nothing for granted" column in the Sept. 2 Eagle, Congressman Richard Neal claimed that the AR-16 type rifle used in the Aurora, CO movie theater shooting could not have been purchased in Massachusetts and it was stated that it is banned from ownership under Massachu setts law. You can probably walk into any gun shop in the commonwealth and find at least one AR-16 type rifle on the rack.
The reasons for this are two-fold. First, the federal "assault weapons" ban grandfathered all those models of firearms that were already in the possession of lawful gun owners. They could continue to be possessed and transferred by those eligible to own firearms.
Second, and most important, the federal legislation should more accurately be referred to as the "Bayonet Lug and Flash Suppresser Ban." It defined an "assault weapon" as being semi-automatic, employing a detachable magazine and having at least two out of three of the following characteristics: a pistol grip, a bayonet lug, or a flash suppresser. It had nothing to do with how these arms functioned or what caliber of ammunition they fired. So, the manufacturers simply eliminated the bayonet lug and flash suppresser, changed the model designation, and continued to churn out thousands upon thousands of these rifles. Indeed, Springfield manufacturer Smith and Wesson lists many variations of their version in their catalog.
Fearful that the federal "ban" would sunset, Massa chu setts adopted the federal language while exempting some 600 firearms by name.
It should be noted that civilian competitors in the annual National Matches at Camp Perry, Ohio, which have been conducted for over 100 years, are required to use semi-automatic versions of the military service rifle, which in this case would be the AR-16 platform.