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assault rifle

U.S. Appeals court rules assault rifles not protected under the U.S. Constitution

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia said in a 10-4 ruling that the 45 assault weapons banned by Maryland are not protected under the U.S. constitution.

Judge Robert King wrote that the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller explicitly excluded this type of coverage.

“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war.”

The ruling upheld Maryland’s law which bans 45 types of assault weapons, and limits the amount of gun magazines to 10 rounds, as well.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh says that it’s “unthinkable that these weapons of war,” which caused the devastation in Newtown, as well as other communities affected by gun violence, would be protected under the U.S. Constitution.

Judge William Traxler argued against the decision saying that it has gone farther than other courts to limit the reach of U.S. citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms.

National Rifle Association spokeswoman, Jennifer Baker, argued that it is “absurd” that the court could hold that America’s most popular rifle is not considered a protected arm under the Second Amendment. She continued by saying that it ignored the guidance of the Supreme Court from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects those arms which are “in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.”

It’s estimated that there are 5 million to 10 million AR-15s currently circulating throughout the United States. AR-15s are banned under Maryland’s law.

Elizabeth Banach, executive director of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, believes that the ruling provides “overwhelming” evidence that it is constitutional to provide reasonable measures that prevent gun violence.

The ban was upheld in 2015 by U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake, however, a divided three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the decision last year that the judge did not apply the proper legal standard.

The case was sent back to Blake, who was ordered to apply strict scrutiny. Strict scrutiny is the most exacting level of judicial review.

Maryland’s law was implemented after the Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting in which 20 children and six educators were killed.

King referred to the massacre at the beginning of the ruling, saying that these types of weapons have been used in mass shootings before and after the Newtown shooting. He wrote that this ruling is exactly the type of decision that can be made by legislators without a court second-guessing it.

“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.”