SAF Suit Challenges Massachusetts’ AG’s Ban on Common Handguns

Draper v. Coakley

The Second Amendment Foundation, joined by Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. (, two commercial dealers and six private citizens, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Massachusetts, seeking an injunction against the State Attorney General’s enforcement of state consumer protection regulations that prevent the commercial sale of certain semiautomatic handguns.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, asserts that the regulation requiring a “load indicator” on a semiautomatic handgun is “unconstitutionally vague and ambiguous” because it does not define what this device is, or what it is intended to do.

The retail sale of handguns in Massachusetts is governed in part by regulations promulgated by the Attorney General.  The regulation provides in part that, “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.  3rd and 4th generation Glock pistols at the center of the dispute have an extractor-based load indicator that reveals at a glance whether there is a cartridge in the chamber. This is virtually identical to extractor-based load indicators on competing pistols from other manufacturers, all of which are legal in Massachusetts, but the state’s Attorney General maintains that Glocks fail to meet the standard and offers no explanation.  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.

“We’re asking the court to put a stop to what we believe is arbitrary enforcement of the regulation, because it deems 3rd and 4th generation Glock pistols lack an ‘effective load indicator’ device,” said SAF Founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “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?”

SAF General Counsel Miko Tempski, coincidentally a Glock factory certified armorer, added, “Our individual plaintiffs want to buy Glock pistols and our retail plaintiffs would be delighted to sell the firearms, but the regulation is being enforced by Attorney General Martha Coakley with no real foundation, because there are no specifics about the device in the regulation. Essentially, it appears the enforcement is pretty much on a whim.

“If the interpretation of the regulation is unclear to the AG’s office and to experts,” Tempski added, “no reasonable person in Massachusetts can know which guns are allowed.”

“We’re hopeful that we can get this resolved rather quickly because the way the regulation is currently being enforced makes absolutely no sense at all,” Gottlieb stated.