Gun engraver

Littleton official tells angry residents over 80 gun dealers at plant complied with laws

The Globe reported Sept. 10 that the factory is home to the nation’s largest group of federally licensed firearms manufacturers and dealers, and that many were openly defying Attorney General Maura Healey’s guidelines on banning firearms. onslaught of the state.

The city’s select committee, which has a population of 10,000, scheduled the meeting after an outpouring of concern from residents over the Globe’s story.

About 70 people attended the meeting. Almost everyone who spoke was adamantly against the companies – with one woman saying she had stopped sending her sons to music school inside the building, and another suggesting the police chief be fired for licensing so many gun shops.

Resident Molly Flannery became emotional as she read a letter she said was signed by a dozen residents.

“It’s far too easy for these guns to fall into the wrong hands,” Flannery said, adding that dealers should be replaced with “homes, businesses or art spaces that better serve and reflect our community.”

Board chairman Matthew Nordhaus told residents at a board meeting that gun dealers at Littleton Mill were all complying with the law.Barry Chin/Personal Globe

Many of the factory’s gun shop owners attended, but most listened silently to the audience. Only one spoke, William Parker of Battle Road Firearms. He defended city officials and the police chief saying, “The businesses are allowed by right… The city can’t do anything to stop them unless you change the law.

Healey attempted to clarify Massachusetts’ assault weapons ban in 2016 when she issued a controversial enforcement notice threatening to bring charges against dealers who sold semi-automatic weapons with modifications intended to ensure that they did not meet the legal definition of a prohibited “assault weapon”. .” Such modifications had been accepted commercial practice for nearly two decades.

Healey also said she would consider selling upper and lower receivers for these weapons – the parts of the weapon that house the main operating mechanisms – in the same way as selling a complete assault weapon. , even if the state does not regulate the sale of firearms. rooms.

The Globe identified 25 dealers at the factory selling weapons or parts that violated these guidelines.

Many in the firearms community have insisted that Healey the guidelines are not supported by state law and are therefore unenforceable.

Several Littletons On Wednesday, residents expressed frustration that, nearly three weeks later, they had not received any clarification as to whether Mill’s sellers had in fact violated the state’s assault weapons ban.

“What is Maura Healey doing? said Mary Dressel. “She’s not responding to most of us who’ve contacted her… We need to know what’s being done at the state level.”

“Is this breaking the law, or is Maura Healey wrong about her loophole assumption?” asked another resident, Julie Seitter.

Nordhaus declined to answer the question. Asked by the Globe after the meeting, he said: “I’m not going to say they haven’t done anything illegal. It’s a gray area. »

Jim Finnerty (left) and Sherif Hashem (right), who both own gun businesses at the factory, listen quietly to the public as Littleton residents voice their concerns.Barry Chin/Personal Globe

Jim Finnerty, the owner of MassGunOwnership, which teaches gun safety classes at the plant, said he and many dealers there have a lot of money on the building’s fate.

Finnerty said the extensive local, state and federal licensing processes take at least four months, and during that time dealers must pay rent at a separate “place of business,” which is mandated by the government. ‘State. It costs at least $5,000 the first year to get started, but with the equipment, the cost is much higher — his engraving machine alone cost $20,000, he said.

But Finnerty said the income he generates can match his normal salary and has helped his two children go to college. “Some retirees, I’m sure that’s their main source of income,” he said. “It’s really going to hurt a lot of people.”

Parker of Battle Road Firearms ended his statement by addressing calls from the many parents present at the meeting who said they did not want there to be so many gun dealers near where they are sending their children in daycare and school. “For anyone who is very concerned about the safety of their children in this building, everyone there is cleared, licensed and verified in a hundred ways starting Sunday. So there are really a lot of really good people there,” Parker said.

Immediately prior to the meeting, the select committee held a closed executive session to discuss the purchase of the 100,000 square foot factory building, which came on the market after the death of the longtime owner in april.

Nordhaus declined to go into details of the discussion at the public meeting, but told residents the purchase “is something we could do if the city wanted to.”

Healey, now the Democratic candidate and frontrunner in the gubernatorial race, continued to decline to comment on the Globe’s findings.

On Monday, Governor Charlie Baker was asked about the Globe’s findings on WGBH. Baker replied, “It certainly seems to me that someone should speak” to the dealers, but clarified that it was Healey’s responsibility to pursue the matter.

“Its rules, its regulations,” Baker said. “The enforcement authority will belong to him. We would certainly be able to support the Attorney General on this.

Sarah Ryley can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @MissRyley.