Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN Legal & Legislation

Arguments Held in Challenge to Maryland’s Firearm and Magazine Ban

Friday, March 27, 2015

Arguments Held in Challenge to Maryland’s Firearm and Magazine Ban

As we reported last August, a federal district court judge in Maryland had upheld the state’s wide-ranging 2013 law that banned America’s most popular rifle, among other common firearms, along with magazines capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition.

The plaintiffs in the case, Kolbe v. O'Malley, appealed that ruling, and oral arguments on the appeal were held Wednesday before the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. The briefs in the case, filed by the parties and “friends of the court”, are available at this link. Audio of the argument may be accessed from the Fourth Circuit’s website.

John Parker Sweeney, arguing for the plaintiffs, emphasized that the Maryland law imposes an outright ban on firearms kept by law-abiding persons in their homes for lawful purposes, including self-defense. This, Mr. Sweeney noted, was the very issue the U.S. Supreme Court squarely decided against the District of Columbia in the historic 2008 case, District of Columbia v. Heller. Nor, Mr. Sweeney reminded the Fourth Circuit judges, did the Supreme Court accept the District’s argument that because rifles and shotguns could theoretically be possessed (although only in a nonfunctional state), could handguns be banned. Instead, the Supreme Court deferred to the judgment of the American people as to what firearms best suit their needs. The state of Maryland admits, he told the court, that the firearms banned by the law were the most popular in Maryland.

The attorney for Maryland admitted that the law banned commonly owned items but insisted that alone did not resolve the Second Amendment question. He argued that the law only bans certain specific types of firearms, not a whole class of them, and that the state was justified in doing so because the banned items are “unusually dangerous.”

The judges asked pointed questions of Maryland’s attorney, pressing him, for example, on whether he believed the Second Amendment would also allow a ban on semiautomatic handguns kept in the home for self-defense. After a prolonged period of trying to evade the question, he finally admitted that like a semiautomatic pistol, a six-shot revolver fires one shot per activation of the trigger and such a firearm would be constitutionally protected. He was then asked why, if a handgun that fires one shot per activation of the trigger were protected, a semiautomatic rifle that did the same thing would not be. In response, the attorney insisted that Maryland did not ban all semiautomatic rifles and that Heller’s holding was specific to handguns.  Yet this, according to one of the judges on the panel, was simply the converse of the argument that the Supreme Court rejected in Heller, than a handgun ban was okay because some long guns were still available.

The court also noted that unlike in prior cases, the Maryland ban is not limited to presumptively dangerous or irresponsible persons, nor is it simply a time, place, and manner restriction that merely establishes guidelines for where or how a weapon can be possessed or used. That being so, a judge asked, why shouldn’t strict scrutiny be the applicable standard of review? Heller was concerned with self-defense, Maryland’s attorney replied, and the banned firearms and magazines are not needed for that.

In his rebuttal, Mr. Sweeney noted that Heller deferred to what people themselves chose for their own needs and argued that principle should also guide the court’s decision in this case. “For whatever reason,” he said, “millions of Americans have chosen these prohibited firearms,” including for self-defense. “It’s the choice,” Mr. Sweeney told the court, “the people’s choice.” Yet, he said, the state went from a restrictive policy to an outright ban, because the state deemed that more likely to reduce the numbers of these firearms owned by the law-abiding populace. That goes too far, he concluded, and cannot stand.

The case is now in the hands of the Fourth Circuit, which is not required to issue its opinion on any specific timeline. Whatever the court decides, however, a further appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely. As ever, your NRA will be following the proceedings closely and giving you the news you need to know as it breaks.

TRENDING NOW

Monday, August 19, 2019

Florida Alert! "Assault Weapons" Ban Amendment Bans ALL SEMIAUTOMATIC RIFLES AND SHOTGUNS

The so-called "assault weapons" ban that is proposed for a constitutional amendment to be on the 2020 Election Ballot bans the possession of: “any semiautomatic rifle or shotgun CAPABLE of holding more than ten (10) rounds ...

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Amnesty International’s Desperate Measure

There are some odd dynamics in international relations. Countries in which people are not free serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Political considerations guide every action.  Of course, the NRA is a single-issue organization so ...

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

News  

Friday, August 2, 2019

NRA Member Berated for Carrying Firearm

NRA member Darrell Kennedy was on vacation with his family at Yellowstone National Park earlier this month when an anti-gun vacationer snapped a photo of his holstered firearm and tweeted out a hate message. “Sat ...

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

No, Joe, Your Gun Ban Didn’t Work

Joe Biden has been out on the primary campaign trail working hard. Maybe a little too hard. “We got to let them know who we are,” he recently told a crowd of supporters at the Iowa State ...

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Bill Clinton Touts Failed Gun Ban With Bogus Info

Bill and Hillary Clinton just don’t draw like they used to. Shunned by much of his own party, (described by one Vanity Fair commentator as “2020’s bubonic plague”) the former president has been relegated to providing lazy ...

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sparking Dialogue or Sparking Joy: Competing Views on Gun “Buyback” Initiatives

The Christian Science Monitor describes itself as “an independent international news organization” that wants to “help you to see news events as starting points for constructive conversations.” Its editorial board recently published an article, A seed for society’s ...

Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

News  

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Another Week, Another Democrat Presidential Contender Out to Round Up America's Guns

A smart person learns from his mistakes. An even smarter person learns from the mistakes of others.  Beto O’Rourke, an unemployed Texan running for president, must not be too smart.           

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

News  

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tell Your U.S. Senators and Representative to Oppose Gun Control

In the wake of the recent two criminal mass attacks, a number of gun control proposals have begun to circulate in our nation’s capital. None of these proposals would have prevented the recent tragedies, but they all ...

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Monday, June 17, 2019

Governor Abbott Signs Ten Pro-Second Amendment Bills into Law

Governor Greg Abbott has now signed all of the NRA-supported legislation which the Texas Legislature sent him during the 2019 session.

Important Statement from NRA CEO & Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre

News  

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Important Statement from NRA CEO & Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre

The NRA will work in good faith to pursue real solutions to the epidemic of violence in America.

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.