Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules

NBC News

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — 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.

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.” She added that 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 there are 5 million to 10 million AR-15s — one of the weapons banned under Maryland’s law — in circulation in the United States for lawful purposes. Asked about an appeal, Baker said the NRA is exploring all options.

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.”

“Maryland’s law needs to become a national model of evidence-based policies that will reduce gun violence,” Banach wrote in a statement.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake upheld the ban in 2015, but a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that she didn’t apply the proper legal standard. The panel sent the case back to Blake and ordered her to apply “strict scrutiny,” a more rigorous test of a law’s constitutionality. The state appealed to the full appeals court.

Maryland passed the sweeping gun-control measure after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that killed 20 children and six educators in Connecticut. King mentioned the massacre at the start of the ruling.

“Both before and after Newtown, similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there,” King wrote. He listed the 2012 shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; the December 2015 shootings in San Bernardino, California; and the shootings last year at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub, where 49 people were killed and 53 injured.

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 Maryland’s interest in protecting public safety,” King wrote.

13 thoughts on “Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules

  1. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the court,…”


    “By concluding the Second Amendment doesn’t even apply,…”

    He just signed his own death warrant… FOR TREASON.

  2. Maryland

    Driver friendly no

    Gun friendly no

    People friendly no

    Commie Shit hole yes

    On American Nationals list to annihilate yes

  3. when 17 die in florida in one event….it’s newsworthy.

    when 17 die in chiraq over a weekend…..meh.

    harkens back to stalins quote.

  4. ‘weapons that caused the carnage in Newtown’…………uh…guess you didn’t see the FBI admission that it was a drill and NO ONE died

  5. A transparently ridiculous decision. “Weapons of war” are precisely the weapons that the 2nd Amendment was intended to protect.

  6. Wow naked tyranny…nothing else need be said or discussed but the method of executing their death sentences for outright treason…!!

    Guess when it hits the fan hopefully sooner than later, every last one of these folks will be booking it out of here….!!!

    Wish they’d hurry up and do a National ban then start trying to enforce it..,I mean really, what are they waiting for…

  7. Labeling something that it is not makes what they are attempting to ban a blatant lie.

    The term assault weapon or what they truly are fully automatic firearms or select fire firearms have an extremely high cost and regulated by atf very heavily.

    Think about why the bump stock issue has come up in the first place and supposedly used in vegas? This has a two fold end game plan including making semi-automatic firearms appear to be machine guns or true assault weapons and then banning specific parts making certain guns big paperweights.
    No parts other than those that actually convert a semi auto into an assualt weapon is currently regulated. Think the sear for an ar which can be dropped into any ar making it via the select fire switch full auto. Will it hold up? Only if its built too other wise the upper will melt down bcg crack and eventually lock up. What will be next are drop in triggers and any other bans you have seen come out of states like cali, ny or ct.
    The deception runs thick and many individuals on the side of freedom have adopted the term to call these semi autos assault weapons unknowingly helping the lie perpetuate itself into society to where more and more people are deceived and the entire conversation is covered with deception.

    We must stop using the term assault weapon because it is allowing them to convert the truth into a lie. Repeat a lie enough times and people will believe it. Seems to be working pretty well.

    1. You’re right that true “assault rifles” are select-fire, and the term “assault weapon” causes confusion. But in all honesty, I don’t feel these terms are worth quibbling about with the anti-gun crowd. There are two main reasons.

      1. To be perfectly honest, there is little if any practical difference between the select-fire versions of the AR, AK, etc., and the semi-auto-only versions. In fact, semi-auto fire is MORE effective in nearly every situation:

      (By the way, a properly made semi-auto AR is made from parts that are identical to a military M4 or M16 except for the “fun switch.” A Colt LE6920 or a Bravo Company will hold up just as well as a military M4 if used with a bump stock, or if the upper half is used on a full-auto lower.)

      Some military ARs, like the Mk12 SPR, don’t even have an auto switch.

      2. In spite of the above points, we have the right to have select-fire weapons just as much as we have a right to have semi-auto weapons, and we need to come right out and say that to the gun control crowd. We also need to explain WHY. The 2nd Amendment is not about hunting or target shooting, and it’s not even primarily about self-defense against common criminals. It’s about ensuring that government agents never attain a monopoly on power.

      1. I get what you are saying but everyone has to understand words matter and specific words equate to truth or lies.
        An example of the parts issue related to the AR platform just because the parts can make the firearm function close to a select fire or full auto does not make it so.
        Lets say someone puts a turbo charger on a mini van does that make it a formula one race car because the turbo is on it? Not at all in fact I would like to see someone in a minivan take turns like a formula one race car. It does not complete the function of the minivan to equal that of a race car. The same can be said for the function of an M4 compared to an AR.
        All that being said lets look at the word marriage and what has been done to that word. It no longer means the union of a man and a woman it means whatever they say it means and you can marry your car heck why not just marry your AR right?
        The point here is like I mentioned earlier words matter in fact the more we allow words and our means of communication to be continually bastardized the less ability we will have to even base an argument because they will OWN the narrative.

        BMF I enjoy your posts because they are precise with facts, now just imagine if those words can not be understood in the matter you are intending them to be because someone else decides what those words mean.

  8. Wonder how they would feel if the Federal Appeals Court wasn’t protected by our Second Amendment?

    No metal detectors, no guns on anyone especially the Pigs

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