Massachusetts Attorney General Uses Consumer Protection Law to Attack Glock, Remington

Gun manufacturers file lawsuit to stop Maura Healey’s demand for internal records

Maura Healey
Maura Healey / AP
September 12, 2016

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey is facing legal action because of her use of the state's consumer protection law to demand internal records from several large firearms manufacturers.

Court documents show that Healey is seeking a number of different documents from the targeted companies. Though Healey's office says the investigation is "narrowly tailored," it is trying to obtain company documentation on manufacturing standards, marketing practices, and safety-related complaints from consumers across the country.

Manufacturers Glock and Remington have filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court against Healey claiming that her efforts are overly broad and politically motivated, the Boston Globe reported. In their filing with the court, Glock said Healey's true intention is to "harass an industry that the attorney general finds distasteful and to make political headlines by pursing members of the firearm industry."

Glock said the sale of their firearms to the public is prohibited in Massachusetts. Only law enforcement are able to purchase the company's handguns. In a counter filing, Healey said the investigation "is not motivated, as Glock complains, by animus toward Glock or more broadly, by animus toward guns" and the fact that Glock doesn't sell firearms in the state doesn't matter because their firearms are available from third parties on the second-hand market.

The attorney general said that even if consumers are purchasing their Glocks illegally, the state still has a responsibility to protect these potentially criminal consumers from faulty firearms. "Irrespective of whether the sales were made legally or not, there are a large number of Glock guns in the hands of Massachusetts consumers," Healey's filing said.

Her filing cited three cases of negligent discharges to establish that it is reasonable for the state to be concerned about the safety of Glock's handguns. The first case involved a San Francisco law enforcement officer who pointed a gun at a fellow officer and pulled the trigger without realizing the gun was loaded. The second example came from Los Angeles where a LAPD officer's young son got ahold of his firearm, pulled the trigger, and shot him in his back by accident. The third story cited in the filing is that of Kiel Helenese, a Connecticut man who was charged with possession of a loaded gun while under the influence of alcohol, unlawful discharge of a firearm, and first-degree reckless endangerment after he shot himself in the leg while dancing at a Fourth of July party.

None of the examples include any accusations of a manufacturing defect. Instead, the incidents resulted from negligence on the part of the owners. Healey's office did not respond to questions about why she believed these cases support a consumer protection inquiry.

Emalie Gainey, senior deputy press secretary for Healey, said the office would not respond to multiple questions posed by the Washington Free Beacon. "We are not going to comment apart from the statement I sent you below and what is in our filed response," she said.

In her statement on the investigation, Cyndi Roy Gonzalez, the attorney general's director of communications, said there are "scores of public reports about defects involving firearms, including accidental firing, misfiring, overheating problems and low ‘trigger pull’ leading to horrific stories of accidental shootings by children," but did not cite any specific cases. Gonzalez said the investigation was warranted because federal firearm consumer protection oversight is lacking.

"Many years ago, the gun industry managed to exempt itself from federal consumer product safety oversight, resulting in no public access to consumer complaints about the guns they manufacture," she said. "This lack of transparency is unlike nearly every other consumer product sold in this country."

The Second Amendment Foundation's Alan Gottlieb said Glock, which introduced its firing mechanism in the 1980s and is among the most popular handgun companies in the world, is the choice of most law enforcement professionals. "If Glock handguns are unsafe, as she claims, then why do most police departments use them?" he asked.

Healey's use of her state's consumer protection to investigate gun companies comes on the heels of her move to unilaterally redefine the state's assault weapons ban, making many rifles which had long been considered legal under the law illegal virtually overnight.

"Attorney General Healey has declared war on guns," Gottlieb said. "Her goal is to eliminate gun ownership. What we need is a ban on assault politicians who do not respect constitutional rights."

Published under: Guns