Appeals court rules Second Amendment doesn't protect right to assault weapons

Maryland's Assault Weapons Ban Upheld | Patch PM

Maryland's Assault Weapons Ban Upheld | Patch PM

It was not a good day for Second Amendment rights yesterday.

The 4 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia ruled 10-4 that the Maryland law banning assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment.

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that assault rifles and other so-called "weapons of war" are not protected under the Second Amendment.

"Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there", he wrote in the opinion. He listed the 2012 shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California; and the shootings a year ago at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, where 49 people were killed and 53 injured.

While Heller established a constitutional right to own a gun, Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action, said this case "flips Heller on its head". That fact, the court said, put them within the category of weapons the Heller opinion excepted from Second Amendment protection.

Only seven states-California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York-and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The majority opinion, written by Judge Robert B. King, refers to the banned firearms as "weapons of war" that the court says are most useful in the military.

New US environmental agency chief to address staff amid fears of cuts
He understands that while farmers and ranchers make their living off the land, they are also its best stewards. During his confirmation hearing, he claimed he was unsure how much lead was safe for humans to consume.

Legal scholars suggest the Supreme Court typically won't get involved unless lower courts can't reach consensus. Assault weapons are a class of semi-automatic firearms; large-capacity magazines can hold as many as 100 rounds of ammunition. While courts exist to protect individual rights, we are not the instruments of anyone's political agenda, we are not empowered to court mass consequences we can not predict and we are not impaneled to add indefinitely to the growing list of subjects on which the states of our Union and the citizens of our country no longer have any meaningful say. The District of Columbia and 2nd Circuits have both evaluated gun control laws using intermediate scrutiny but the three-judge panel that previously heard the Kolbe case applied the tougher standard of heightened scrutiny to strike down the Maryland ban in 2016.

Judge William Traxler, who wrote the dissenting opinion in Tuesday's ruling, said the majority "has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms".

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the court's description of the AR-15 an "unfortunate mischaracterization" and said it is considering appealing the case further.

"To say in the wake of so many mass shootings in so many localities across this country that the people themselves are now to be rendered newly powerless, that all they can do is stand by and watch as federal courts design their destiny ― this would deliver a body blow to democracy as we have known it since the very founding of this nation", Wilkinson wrote.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.