February 22, 2017
In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th
“Put simply, we have no power to
extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote
for the court, adding that the Supreme Court’s decision in
Maryland Attorney General Brian
Frosh, who led the push for the law in 2013 as a state senator, said it’s
“unthinkable that these weapons of war, weapons that caused the carnage in
“It’s a very strong opinion, and it has national significance, both because it’s en-banc and for the strength of its decision,” Frosh said, noting that all of the court’s judges participated.
Judge William Traxler issued a dissent. By concluding the Second Amendment doesn’t even apply, Traxler wrote, the majority “has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.” He also wrote that the court did not apply a strict enough review on the constitutionality of the law.
“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,” Traxler wrote.
National Rifle Association
spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, “It is absurd to hold that the most popular
The NRA estimates there are 5
million to 10 million AR-15s – one of the weapons banned under
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.”
U.S. District Judge Catherine
Blake upheld the ban in 2015, but a divided three-judge panel of the 4th
“Both before and after
King also noted that enacting the law is “precisely the type of judgment that legislatures are allowed to make without second-guessing by a court.”
“Simply put, the State has shown
all that is required: a reasonable, if not perfect, fit between the (Firearms
Safety Act) and