The majority ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which dealt with handgun ownership and the right to self-defense, has no impact on semi-automatic rifles.
shakespeare romeo and juliet love essay“We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” Judge Robert B. King wrote in the majority opinion.
King’s essays on modernism mentioned the mass shootings in San Bernardino, Newtown and Orlando. Maryland state legislators, he wrote, were justified in banning weapons with magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Such weapons “enable shooters to inflict mass casualties while depriving victims and law enforcement officers of opportunities to escape or overwhelm the shooters while they reload their weapons,” King wrote.
Traxler disagreed, noting that such weapons are not “dangerous or unusual” and are used by millions of law-abiding citizens.
“As long as the weapon chosen is one commonly possessed by the American people for lawful purposes — and the rifles at issue here most certainly are,” Traxler wrote, “the state has very little say about whether its citizens should keep it in their homes for protection.”
Both King and Traxler were nominated by President Bill Clinton.
Three other judges — Paul V. Niemeyer, Dennis W. Shedd and G. Steven Agee — joined Traxler in the dissent.
The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) called it an “outrageous decision.”
“If, as the Fourth Circuit suggests, a firearm loses Second Amendment protection because it is specifically designed for ‘killing or disabling the enemy,’ then the whole idea of the Second Amendment protecting a defensive purpose (or applying to any well-designed firearm, for that matter) collapses. Handguns, rifles, and shotguns of any type can be equally ‘dangerous,’” the NRA-ILA wrote.
Maryland’s law is similar to bans in California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other states, The Washington Post noted.
The decision could be appealed to the Supreme Court.
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