Gun Sellers Leaving Massachusetts

July 7, 2008 - 8:02 PM

( - With the implementation of recently enacted gun laws, gun manufacturers and dealers are pulling out of Massachusetts, the state with the strongest gun controls in the nation. The restrictions went into effect last month after a two-year legal battle that ended up in the state's Supreme Court.

The rules of state law include the banning of so-called "Saturday Night Specials" and the requirement that all weapons sold must bear childproof locks. They also require the issuance of safety warnings with each sale, tamper resistant serial numbers and a device on semi-automatic weapons that indicates whether there is a bullet in the chamber.

The regulations exempt used handguns, police weapons and guns manufactured prior to September, 1998.

Under the guidelines, the only gun maker whose weapons qualify for sale is Smith & Wesson, a manufacturer located in Springfield, MA, in the western part of the state.

Smith & Wesson recently signed an agreement with the Clinton-Gore Administration accepting a variety of conditions concerning the sale and manufacture of weapons. In exchange for the agreement, the company was dropped from a series of lawsuits brought against gun makers by dozens of cities, counties and states.

However, the Bay State's regulations are more restrictive than those contained in the Clinton Administration-Smith & Wesson pact.

"The state regulations are killing the small (gun) dealers. We are stuck with thousands of dollars in guns we can't sell," said Vincent Del Valle, manager of Strictly Defense, a Springfield-based seller.

A major sticking point for several gun makers, including Glock, SIG-Sauer and Taurus, concerns the amount of force it takes to pull the trigger. Under the regulations, a weapon must require at least 10 pounds of force to pull a trigger. The requirement is intended to make it more difficult for children to fire the weapon. Most guns are sold with a trigger pull of four to six pounds in an effort to accommodate women, a growing group of gun buyers.

Several gun dealers have reportedly pulled all new handguns off the shelf in response to the new regulations, but, despite the complaints, a spokesperson for state Attorney General Thomas Reilly insisted the requirements must be met.

"It is our hope that all companies will comply, but there is no going back, as far as we are concerned," said spokesperson Ann Donlan of the Massachusetts' Attorney General's office.