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Supreme Court Rejects Maryland’s Assault Weapons Ban Challenge

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The Maryland legislation prohibiting “assault weapons” was upheld in its current form by the Supreme Court on Monday, declining to consider a challenge to the statute. The Court permits the ongoing dispute’s legal proceedings to continue by choosing not to get involved.

Before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rendered a decision on the ban’s validity under the Second Amendment, the challengers had asked the Supreme Court to examine the legislation. Late in March, arguments were heard, but a decision has not yet been made. After the appellate court’s decision, the case can be brought back before the Supreme Court.

Maryland’s law, passed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, makes it illegal to own, transfer, sell, or buy 45 different types of semiautomatic weapons or their equivalents. Other semiautomatic rifles and handguns are still legal, though.

Nine other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have comparable prohibitions on semiautomatic firearms in addition to Maryland.

The challenge was started in 2020 by a group of Marylanders, a registered gun dealer, and various pro-Second Amendment organizations who claimed the restriction violated their constitutional rights. The Supreme Court decided not to examine the 4th Circuit’s earlier judgment to uphold the legislation. The case was remanded to lower courts for additional review in the wake of a 2022 Supreme Court decision that extended rights under the Second Amendment.

In its 2022 ruling, the Supreme Court stressed that gun rules should be consistent with the country’s long history of regulating guns. Lower courts have declared some long-standing gun laws unconstitutional as a result of this new threshold. A second issue addressing a 30-year-old statute that prohibits those under domestic violence restraining orders from possessing firearms is also being considered by the Supreme Court; a ruling is still awaited.

Citing the basic nature of the right in question and arguing that the actions of the lower courts required the high court’s involvement to protect that right, the challengers asked for the Supreme Court’s immediate intervention.

But Maryland officials argued that the case wasn’t ready for the Supreme Court to consider just yet. They argued that the Supreme Court’s new criteria, which permits regulation of novel guns posing serious dangers to public safety, makes the state’s prohibition on some semiautomatic rifles permissible.

The assault weapons ban in Maryland is still in effect while the legal dispute is still pending.

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