A major gun control law has been shot down, with the Maryland assault weapons ban being overturned by a panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Based upon the decision of the judges, banning assault weapons violated the core of the Second Amendment, an interpretation heavily endorsed by the NRA. The Maryland decision apparently creates a contradiction in the law since the 7th Circuit Court ruled in favor of an assault weapon ban in 2015. While the U.S. Supreme Court declined to see that gun control case, some reports claim liberals will be in a panic soon since it’s possible the highest court in America may soon decide to make the final determination on gun rights.
In the two-to-one decision by the 4th Circuit, the judges concluded that the semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines banned by Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act “are in common use by law-abiding citizens.” As such, the assault weapons ban was deemed unconstitutional since the weapons do not fall under the Second Amendment exception applied to machine guns, hand grenades, and other “unusual” weapons.
“In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment — the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” wrote Chief Judge William Traxler.
The Maryland gun control law is similar to an Illinois assault weapons ban which was challenged in the case of Friedman v. City Of Highland Park. Dr. Arie Friedman and the Illinois State Rifle Association claimed the city of Highland Park violated citizen’s Second Amendment rights by banning certain semi-automatic weapons in addition to banning ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammo.
In April of 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled two to one in favor of the Illinois gun control law, although Judge Frank Easterbrook said the U.S. Supreme Court needed to solidify the uncertainty left by two cases, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago.
“Heller and McDonald set limits on the regulation of firearms; but within those limits, they leave matters open. The best way to evaluate the relation among assault weapons, crime, and self‐defense is through the political process and scholarly debate, not by parsing ambiguous passages in the Supreme Court’s opinions,” said Easterbrook, who was in favor of the assault weapons ban.
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Judge Daniel Manion disagreed with the two other judges, claiming the ban “violates the Second Amendment rights of its citizens” and represents an “enormous transfer of authority from the citizens of this country to the government – a result directly contrary to our Constitution and to our political tradition.” The attorneys for Friedman also tried appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, although Highland Park petitioned the Court to deny the appeal.
“The Seventh Circuit upheld bans on commonly possessed firearms and magazines that clearly are unconstitutional under Heller, and it did so by applying a newly minted three-part test, all three parts of which stand in direct conflict with. Enough is enough,” explained the appeal brief.
According to Hot Air, the recent overturning of the Maryland gun control law may be enough for the U.S. Supreme Court to take action.
“This apparent contradiction between the 7th Circuit Court’s ruling in Friedman v. City of Highland Park and the 4th’s ruling in Maryland has likely provided enough contrast for the Supremes to take up the question. This, as you might imagine, has liberal gun rights opponents in a state of panic, as a ruling agreeing with the rationale cited by the 4th Circuit Court would essentially kill off any similar rifle bans around the nation,” said the report.
A report by the Constitution Daily notes that Highland Park claimed the Illinois assault weapons ban only affected “highly dangerous weapons that have been used in a series of mass shooting events, and it does not violate the Second Amendment.” As a comparison, Hot Air looked to the FBI’s gun deaths data for 2014 and discovered that only about 3 percent of all shooting deaths involved “rifles of all types.” Based upon this information, the report claims the U.S. Supreme Court should get rid of the term “assault rifle” entirely and “these weapons should be looped in with the rest of the firearms in widespread, legal, safe use.”
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