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SAF strikes again, seeks injunction against Mass. gun regulation

SAF's Alan Gottlieb announced another gun rights lawsuit today, this time in Massachusetts.
Dave Workman

The Second Amendment Foundation, which has become a legal gun rights powerhouse, was back in court today, this time seeking an injunction in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts against the Attorney General’s enforcement of regulations that prevent the sale of certain semiautomatic pistols in the Bay State.

The lawsuit, if successful, would be something of a victory for people wanting to purchase new model Glock handguns. SAF is joined in the action by Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc., two commercial dealers and six private citizens. Those citizens want to buy Glock pistols, and those dealers want to sell them.

At issue, according to SAF, is the way the regulations requiring a loaded-chamber indicator (LCI) on semi-auto handguns are being enforced. The lawsuit contends that the regulation is “unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous” because it does not clearly define what this device is, or what it is intended to do.

On some handguns, an LCI might be a small pin that rises on the slide just above and behind the ejection port. On other models, it could be a red mark on the extractor that appears only when a live round is in the chamber. Some pistols feature a tiny U-shaped notch cut in the top of the barrel breech through which the cartridge case head can be spotted if a round is in the chamber.

Currently, the regulation, as it is being enforced by Attorney General Martha Coakley has “no real foundation,” according to SAF General Counsel Miko Tempski, “because there are no specifics about the device in the regulation. Essentially, it appears the enforcement is pretty much on a whim.”

“We’re asking the court to put a stop to what we believe is arbitrary enforcement of the regulation, because it deems third and fourth generation Glock pistols lack an ‘effective load indicator’ device,” said SAF Founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb in a press release. “How can anyone design something when there is no description, or explanation of exactly what such a device is supposed to do and how it is supposed to do it?”

According to the lawsuit, third-and fourth-generation Glock pistols have an extractor-based load indicator that tells at a glance whether there is a round in the chamber. This setup is virtually identical to extractor-based load indicators on competing pistols from other manufacturers, all of which are legal in Massachusetts.

Gottlieb may have a point, and he’s hoping a federal judge in one of the most gun-restrictive states in the country agrees. It’s part of his on-going strategy of litigation to correct or undo onerous gun regulations, or at least the way they are enforced, because all they do is discourage firearms ownership, which is a constitutionally-protected individual civil right.

SAF, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – Gottlieb launched the foundation in 1974 when he was in his mid-20s – has adopted the motto “Winning Firearms Freedom, One Lawsuit at a Time.” Over the past few years, the Bellevue-based group has racked up an impressive scorecard, including the 2010 Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

That case doomed the long-standing handgun ban in the Windy City, and incorporated the Second Amendment to the states, via the 14th Amendment. Still, many federal judges are reluctant, if not resistant, to changing long-standing attitudes about gun rights. Cases challenging arbitrary carry laws in Maryland, New Jersey and New York have not fared well, and the high court has so far declined to take a case that could overturn those laws.