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.
In a 2-1 decision applauded by gun rights advocates, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit concluded that the semiautomatic weapons and high-capacity magazines banned by Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act “are in common use by law-abiding citizens.” As a result, they don’t fall under the exception to the right to bear arms that applies to “unusual” weapons such as machine guns and hand grenades, the court said.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said Thursday that the decision “conflicts sharply with rulings of other federal appellate courts.” Frosh said he would appeal — either to the full 15-member 4th Circuit or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The National Rifle Association issued a statement hailing the ruling.
Chris W. Cox, executive director of the group’s Institute for Legislative Action, called the decision “an important victory for the Second Amendment.”