On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Maryland’s assault weapons ban, declaring these firearms “weapons of war.” In a 10-4 decision, the court ruled that the state’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (FSA) does not violate Marylanders Second Amendment rights.
“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote, referring to the “military-style rifles” that were also used during mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, San Bernardino, California, and Orlando, Florida.
“We conclude — contrary to the now-vacated decision of our prior panel — that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment,” wrote Judge Robert B. King for the majority.
King fell back on language in the 2008 Heller decision by the Supreme Court that kept Washington, D.C.’s assault weapon ban in place.
“That is, we are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are ‘like’ ‘M-16 rifles’ ‘weapons that are most useful in military service’– which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment’s reach,” wrote King. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage.”
Maryland expanded their “assault weapons” ban after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. Under the FSA, 81 specific gun models are banned, most of which are AR-style rifles and shotguns. This also means that “weapons of war” include any firearms detachable magazines and has two of the following features: a folding stock, a grenade/flare launcher, or a flash suppressor. The sale or transfer of “high capacity magazines” are also prohibited. Anyone found in violation of these regulations could face up to three years in prison.