- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

BOSTON (AP) - Republican Gov. Charlie Baker says Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey has the right to crack down on the sale and manufacture of what she’s called copycat assault weapons.

Healey on Wednesday sent an enforcement notice to gun sellers and manufacturers clarifying what constitutes a “copy” or “duplicate” weapon under the state’s assault weapons ban, including copies of the Colt AR-15 and the Kalashnikov AK-47.

Healey said an estimated 10,000 copycat assault weapons were sold in Massachusetts last year.

Baker said during his monthly “Ask the Governor” segment on WGBH-FM Thursday that Healey has the authority to send the notice about the assault weapons ban.

Pro-gun protesters concerned about Healey’s enforcement notice gathered outside the Statehouse Thursday afternoon waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.

A larger rally is planned for Saturday morning, also outside the Statehouse.

Baker issued a statement later Thursday saying that since Healey’s “recent action potentially leaves tens of thousands of law abiding citizens open to criminal charges,” it’s important to protect those who have already purchased guns believing in good faith that they were legal under state law.

Healey said Wednesday that the enforcement notice sent to gun dealers and manufacturers makes clear that the new rule will not be enforced against gun owners who bought or sold these weapons prior to the notice being sent out.

Dealers who currently have these weapons on hand, however, are not permitted to sell them to Massachusetts buyers, according to Healey. She said they may transfer them out-of-state to jurisdictions where sales of these weapons are legal.

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