US appeals court upholds Maryland assault weapons ban

Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 07:04:14-05

A federal appeals court has upheld Maryland's ban on 45 assault weapons and a 10-round limit on gun magazines.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, issued the ruling Tuesday.

The court ruled that the banned assault weapons "are not protected by the Second Amendment."

The court says: "Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war" that the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded from such coverage.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh led the push to pass the law in 2013. He praised the ruling, describing it as "very strong."

Frosh released the following statement after the decision,

"The very strong opinion issued by the full court, which was joined by 9 judges, affirms the decision of a district court judge in 2015 to uphold the law.  The ruling keeps in place an important piece of the General Assembly's comprehensive 2013 legislation designed to protect Marylanders from gun violence, and confirms the principle that the Constitution does not prohibit states from protecting their citizens and communities. 

The court held that evidence supplied by Maryland led to the inescapable conclusion that the assault weapons and large-capacity magazines banned by Maryland are 'like' the military's M-16 rifles.  It is unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in Newtown and in other communities across the country, would be protected by the 2nd Amendment.

In upholding the law, the court credited evidence that the weapons covered by the law were not only 'designed for the battlefield,' but also 'have been used disproportionately to their ownership in mass shootings and the murders of law enforcement officers.'  Similarly, large capacity magazines 'enable shooters to inflict mass casualties while depriving victims and law enforcement officers of opportunities to escape or overwhelm the shooters while they reload their weapons.'

The Maryland Firearm Safety Act is a common-sense law designed to reduce gun violence and make our communities safer, and it remains the law in Maryland."  

Maryland passed a sweeping gun-control measure after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed 20 children and six educators in Connecticut.

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