📖 Your Q2 Earnings Guide: Discover the Stocks ProPicks AI Highlights to Jump Post-EarningsRead more

US Supreme Court rebuffs appeal over Maryland assault weapons ban

Published 05/20/2024, 10:37 AM
Updated 05/20/2024, 10:44 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 6, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

By Andrew Chung

(Reuters) -The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Monday 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.

Maryland in 2013 enacted its ban on "military-style assault rifles" such as the semiautomatic AR-15 and AK-47, after a shooter used such a weapon in the 2012 mass killing of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Maryland plaintiffs - residents seeking to buy the banned weapons, a firearms dealer called Field Traders and three gun rights groups including the Second Amendment Foundation - sued the state in 2020.

Contesting the term "assault weapon" as an inaccurate "political term," the Maryland plaintiffs said that assault weapons cannot be outright banned because they are in "common use" by millions of law-abiding people.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, U.S., October 6, 2017.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

The 4th Circuit dismissed their case based on a 2017 ruling by that same court that had upheld Maryland's ban after concluding that, under the Supreme Court's 2008 precedent, assault weapons are not protected by the Second Amendment because they are like "weapons of war" that are most useful in military service.

After the Supreme Court's 2022 ruling in the New York case, the justices asked the 4th Circuit to revisit the case made by the Maryland plaintiffs. The 4th Circuit decided in January to rehear the matter before its full slate of judges, and that remains pending.

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.