A federal court dealt a blow to Americans’ Second Amendment rights on Tuesday when it ruled that so-called “assault rifles” like the AR-15 are not protected under the Constitution and are instead “weapons of war,” Reuters reported.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was ruling on a Maryland law passed in the wake of the 2012 elementary school massacre Newtown, Connecticut, and found it did not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 prohibited semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, including the AR-15, and limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds. The court ruled by a 10-4 margin that the law was constitutional.
“Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the majority, claiming the Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller specifically exempted such weapons from Second Amendment coverage.
Dissenting members of the court were livid.
According to Fox News, Judge William Traxler wrote in dissent that the majority “has gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.”
“For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, Maryland’s law clearly imposes a significant burden on the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home, and it should at least be subject to strict scrutiny review before it is allowed to stand.”
National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker was similarly critical and said the court had gotten the Heller precedent all wrong.
“It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected ‘arm’ under the Second Amendment.” Baker said, adding that the ruling “clearly ignores the Supreme Court’s guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are ‘in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.’”
Maryland is one of seven states, in addition to the District of Columbia, that have such statues regarding semi-automatic rifles, and this case could go to the United States Supreme Court.
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