• SCOTUS Rebuffs Appeal Over Maryland Assault Weapons Ban

    May 22, 2024
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    U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC (Public Domain)

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    From Reuters:

    The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday [May 20] to hear a challenge to a Democratic-backed ban in Maryland on assault-style rifles such as AR-15s, steering clear of the dispute while the litigation continues in a lower court. The justices turned away an appeal by commercial firearms dealers, gun rights groups and several Maryland residents who have argued that the ban violates the right to keep and bear arms under U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

    The challengers had asked the Supreme Court to decide the legality of the ban before the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issues a ruling in the case. Other appeals still pending before the Supreme Court seek to challenge a similar law in Illinois banning assault rifles and large-capacity ammunition magazines. The justices did not act on those cases on Monday. The availability of assault rifles, which are popular among gun enthusiasts, continues to fuel fierce debate in a nation bitterly divided over how to address firearms violence including frequent mass shootings.

    The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, has taken an expansive view of Second Amendment rights. In 2022, the court recognized a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self defense in a decision that struck down New York state gun limits on carrying concealed firearms. The court is expected to rule by the end of June in two major cases that implicate gun rights. One involves a challenge to a federal law barring people under domestic violence restraining orders from having guns. The second is a challenge to a federal ban on "bump stocks" - devices that enable semiautomatic weapons to fire rapidly like machine guns. (Read more.)

    From Bearing Arms:

    If the Supreme Court does end up accepting a challenge to an "assault weapon" ban in the coming weeks, it will be Illinois' gun and magazine ban that goes under the microscope. The Court rejected a cert request in Bianchi v. Brown without comment on Monday, allowing Maryland's "assault weapons" ban to remain in effect for now, and also turned away a petition in Srour v. NYC challenging the city's "good moral character" clause for residents applying for permission to keep a rifle or shotgun in their home.

    While the Court denied cert in those cases, it took no action on a bevy of lawsuits taking on the Protect Illinois Communities Act, giving Second Amendment advocates at least a ray of hope that there are four justices willing to grant cert after another round of debate in conference.

    As 2A attorney and scholar Mark W. Smith points out, all of these cases are what's known as interlocutory appeals, meaning the appellate courts have yet to issue their final decisions. Once the Fourth Circuit issues its en banc decision in Bianchi v. Brown the losing side can take their appeal directly to the Supreme Court... assuming the Fourth Circuit doesn't play even more games with the gun ban case and decide to kick it back down to district court for a new trial on the merits, which would set the case back several years. Unfortunately, Smith says he's not particularly confident that the Court will end up granting cert to the Illinois cases either. (Read more.)

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