Can Maryland Set the Stage for a National Gun Ban?

4th Circuit upholds restrictive law.

map of maryland

Late in February, without hardly anyone noticing, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Maryland’s restrictive “Firearms Safety Act.” Maryland currently bans semiautomatic guns with certain features that the state feels make the guns “militarized.” The state passed this law in 2012 in response to the shooting of 20 6- to 7-year-old children and six adult staff members at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10 to 4 that Maryland’s ban is constitutional. The court ruled in an opinion written by Judge Robert B. King that “assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment.” He further goes on to say that the banned guns are “weapons of war.” Maryland’s law does not ban all long guns, rifles or semiautomatic rifles, just guns with certain features.

Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote a dissenting opinion, saying that his colleagues have gone to great lengths to “eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.”

This ruling could set a larger tone by the courts for more bans on these types of guns. It’s possible that if Hillary Clinton had won the election, this ruling would not be challenged, and it might in fact have led to more bans around the country. Given that Clinton did not win, it is likely that this decision will be appealed. We’ll see.