Supreme Court lets Maryland ban on assault weapons stand--for now

By Jen Krausz on
 May 21, 2024

The Supreme Court has decided not to jump the line and consider a Maryland ban on assault weapons while a lower court was still considering it.

It was an expected ruling, and the court did not elaborate on it.

The court is also considering whether to weigh in on a similar ban in Illinois, which is already being appealed.

There was no action on that case on Monday, but could decide to go that route to decide the issue.

The arguments

Gun rights groups in the state said that since the weapons classified as assault weapons are some of the most popular, the ban is too much of an infringement on the Second Amendment to stand.

They cited the 2022 Supreme Court decision that expanded gun rights and caused gun laws around the country to be reconsidered.

The attorney general of Maryland argued that semi-automatic weapons are used in mass shootings and are "highly dangerous, military-style" weapons.

The plaintiffs in the case have accused the appeals court of dragging its feet on the case. Recently, the court moved the case from a three-judge panel to the full circuit court, which is an unusual move.

Years of challenges

The law dates back to 2012 and bans the sale, purchase, transfer or receipt of the weapons.

It has been challenged since 2013, with the 4th Circuit affirming it in 2013 and rejecting another challenge in 2016.

After the 2022 Bruen ruling, the court ordered the 4th Circuit to reconsider the 2016 challenge, and that's when the foot-dragging began.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have banned so-called assault weapons, but Maryland's ban is one of the strictest ones in the country, including bans on dozens of firearms and a 10-round limit on magazines.

Many of these laws may be overturned if the court takes its usual conservative viewpoint when it finally decides to rule on one of them.

Most of the laws and challenges are in Democrat-dominated states, so we may see a lot more foot-dragging before that happens.

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