Draper v. Healey

Federal District Court for Massachusetts

Challenge to the Attorney General's 'safe' handgun regulations

Filed June 11, 2014

Draper v. Healey challenges the Attorney General's interpretation of the 'load indicator' requirement found in 940 CMR 16.00 'Handgun Sales'.

The retail sale of handguns in Massachusetts is governed in part by regulations promulgated by the Attorney General.   940 CMR 16.00 'Handgun Sales' provides in part that:

"(3) It shall be an unfair or deceptive practice for a handgun-purveyor to transfer or offer to transfer to any customer located within the Commonwealth any handgun which does not contain a load indicator or magazine safety disconnect."

The regulation also offers the following definition:

Load indicator: shall mean a device which plainly indicates that a cartridge is in the firing chamber within the handgun.

Each of the consumer plaintiffs in this action want to purchase a current model Glock handgun and each of the retail plaintiffs want to offer for sales current models of Glock handguns.  However, because 3rd and 4th generation Glock handguns do have an extractor-based load indicator the plaintiffs have each sought clarification of the regulation as it applies to Gen3 and Gen4 Glock pistols. Without explanation the Attorney General will only offer that current models of Glock pistols lack and 'effective' load indicator despite having a load indicator that's virtually identical to that found on other makes pistols which are apparently legal to sell in Massachusetts.

The failure of  940 CMR 16.00 or the Attorney General to specify how a 'load indicator' must function, it's size, shape, location or any other attribute creates ambiguity and confusion for consumers and retailers alike. The inability of dealers to  determine with any degree of certainty if a particular handgun's load indicator is 'effective' subjects the dealers to the perpetual danger of arbitrary enforcement action based upon a regulation that is unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous. 

Status:

06/17/2016 -- First Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the judgement of the district court.

Updates: