An appeals court in the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia has ruled that military-style assault rifles were not protected by the second amendment, in a blow to the NRA.
There are 45 weapons banned under Maryland laws, and a 10-4 vote amongst the judges decided that these banned arms are not subject to the second amendment.
“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” wrote Judge Robert King in his dissent.
This ruling hold up an Obama-era law that 45 different kinds of assault weapons and sets the limit on gun magazines to 10 rounds.
“It’s a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it’s en-banc and for the strength of its decision,” said Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, one of the liberals that led to the eventual ban.
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said: “It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected ‘arm’ under the Second Amendment.”
The Daily Mail has more:
Judge William Traxler issued a dissent, writing the decision ‘has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.’
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said: ‘It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected ‘arm’ under the Second Amendment.’
She added that the majority opinion ‘clearly ignores the Supreme Court’s guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are ‘in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.’
The NRA estimates there are 5 million to 10 million AR-15s – one of the weapons banned under Maryland’s law – in circulation in the United States for lawful purposes. When asked about an appeal, Baker said the NRA is exploring all options.
But Elizabeth Banach, executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, said the decision is ‘overwhelming proof that reasonable measures to prevent gun violence are constitutional.’
‘Maryland’s law needs to become a national model of evidence-based policies that will reduce gun violence,’ Banach wrote in a statement.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake upheld the ban in 2015, but a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that she didn’t apply the proper legal standard.
The panel sent the case back to Blake and ordered her to apply ‘strict scrutiny,’ a more rigorous test of a law’s constitutionality. The state appealed to the full appeals court.
Maryland passed the sweeping gun-control measure after 20 children and six educators were killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.