Maryland’s ban on 45 kinds of assault weapons and its 10-round limit on gun magazines were upheld Tuesday by a federal appeals court in a decision that met with a strongly worded dissent.
In a 10-4 ruling, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the guns banned under Maryland’s law aren’t protected by the Second Amendment.
“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 District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded such coverage.
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 Newtown 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,” 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.
Jokes aside, this is serious stuff. I see a lot of people talking about the term “assault weapon,” and that’s all well and good, but the ban actually lists the guns, so the argument that it doesn’t apply to your gun because it is a “modern sporting rifle” isn’t accurate.
The Heller case (which this ruling blatantly disregards and violates, although they argue it does not) did make reference to the right to guns in popular use at the time, which these rifles do fall under, but not according to the court. These rifles would also not be seen as adequate arms to send overseas with our troops, making them not “weapons of war,” but again, not according to this court.
This opens up the flood gates to bans that are wholly unconstitutional, regardless of what this court says.
And it opens a lot of other problems as well. After all, if the 2nd amendment only protects guns that were available and in popular use at the time of writing, one could argue the other amendments are also null and void. If this stands, one could argue that you could, in fact, be arrested for writing something on the internet with your smart phone that the government doesn’t like. After all, if one amendment only covers things at time of writing, why would another include modern technology? And while that is a “joke” that gets passed around, a lawyer could push it in court. And I hate to say… that lawyer could win. Again, if one covers modern technology, they all must. If one doesn’t cover modern technology, none of them can.
So while the anti-gunners rejoice, the flood gates may have just been opened.