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Federal appeals court hears challenge on assault weapons ban

In 2013, Maryland passed the Firearms Safety Act. That act banned guns with magazine capacities over 10 rounds and those weapons that had specific cosmetic characteristics that made them appear like “assault” weapons.

In February, the ban was said to violate the Second Amendment by the three-judge panel of the federal appeals court. That reversed the decision made by a U.S. District judge in 2014. The reversal on the decision required that the prohibition be heard again, but with new guidelines. However, in March, the U.S. Fourth Circuit decided to hear the case again, this time by the full panel.

The oral arguments took over an hour, with the plaintiffs’ attorney saying that the state’s law violated the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights. He also said that this case was easier than the case that was heard on Washington D.C.’s complete ban on handguns. Handguns, he said, were used in 94 percent of Maryland homicides — not long arms.

Matthew Fader, who is the Deputy Chief Maryland Attorney General, argued that AK-47s and M-16s were adopted by world militaries for military-style assaults. The civilian versions, he said, have been “disproportionally used in mass public shootings. . . murders of law enforcement officers.”

The court is expected to rule on this case this summer.

Currently, assault-type weapons are banned in Maryland and although charges filed for having one could be appealed, it is better to wait and see how this case ends up than to risk a conviction for possessing a banned firearm. If you are charged, an attorney can provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions about your case.

Source: Guns.com, “Maryland’s ‘assault weapon’ ban debated in federal appeals court,” Chris Eger, May 12, 2016

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