A 2-1 ruling Thursday by the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals struck a blow to a Maryland law that placed a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It was former Gov. Martin O'Malley who in 2013 hastily enacted the ban shortly after the Newtown school massacre.
The judges concluded that these types of weapons "are in common use by law-abiding citizens" and cannot be considered "unusual" like hand grenades or fully-automatic machine guns. As such, semi-automatic weapons don't fall under any Second Amendment exceptions.
The National Rifle Association is pleased with the ruling, calling it "an important victory for the Second Amendment" and praised the judges for applying "the highest level of judicial scrutiny… when governments try to restrict our 2A freedoms."
Maryland's Attorney General Brian E. Frosh doesn't feel the same and says the decision "conflicts sharply with rulings of other federal appellate courts." His plan is to appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court.
For now, the ban remains in place pending a decision by the District Court, reports The Baltimore Sun:
The state could let the case go back to the District Court and hope to win there under the stricter standard. It could seek Supreme Court review or appeal to the full 4th Circuit, which once had a reputation as the nation's most conservative appeals court but has become more centrist under President Barack Obama.
Proponents for Maryland's gun ban were at least pleased with one issue from the court decision. Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders Against Gun Violence said, "The gun lobby never even challenged the most important part of the law, which is the requirement that handgun purchasers be licensed and fingerprinted. That is the part of the law that will save the most lives."