A federal appeals court upheld Maryland’s ban on assault rifles, concluding that the powerful military-style guns outlawed by the measure are not entitled to protection under the Second Amendment.
The 10-4 ruling, issued by the entire Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, reverses a decision by a smaller panel of judges from the court last year that called the law’s constitutionality into question.
The bill was steered through the Maryland Senate in 2013 by then-Sen. Brian E. Frosh in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Since elected as the state’s attorney general, he has defended the law in court.
Frosh, a Democrat, called the dual role gratifying and said he was very happy with the ruling.
“It’s a very strong opinion and we think absolutely correct,” said Frosh, who called the violence wrought by the now-banned guns “senseless.”
The law, which also outlawed magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, was challenged by two men who said they wanted to buy the banned rifles and by a handful of gun stores and associations. They argued that the rifles were popular among gun enthusiasts, used by people to defend their homes and not inherently dangerous. A federal judge in Baltimore disagreed, upholding the law.
A federal appeals court dealt a potentially serious blow to Maryland’s landmark 2013 gun control law and similar measures across the country, ruling Tuesday that a lower court was wrong when it upheld the state’s ban on assault rifles.