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Federal Appeals Court Agrees, Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment
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Summary: A federal appeals court upheld a lower ruling that the listed assault weapons and ammunition magazine limits of a Maryland ban are not protected under the constitution.

The 4th 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. The ban lists 45 assault weapons and 10-round limits of gun magazines.


Judge Robert King wrote, “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war.” He noted the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller excludes such coverage.

The ban was led by the state’s Attorney General Brian Fosh in 2013. He said, “It’s unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in Newton and in other communities across the country, would be protected by the Second Amendment. It’s a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it’s en-banc and for the strength of its decision.”

Judge William Traxler was one of the judges to dissent. He wrote, the majority “has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.” He continued, “For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand.”

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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.” Baker continued, 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 that there are up to 10 million AR-15s in circulation lawfully in the United States.

Executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, Elizabeth Banach, 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.”

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