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Appeals Court Issues Bad News For Maryland Gun Owners

A federal appeals court ruled 10 to 4 on Feb. 21 to protect Maryland's ban on assault-style rifles, stating that the Constitution does not explicitly allow Americans to own "weapons of war."

"We are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are 'like' M-16 rifles -- 'weapons that are most useful in military service' -- which the Heller Court singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment's reach," wrote Fourth Circuit Judge Robert King of the decision, according to Salon. "Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage."

King was referring to the 2008 Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the high court determined that individuals have the right to own some type of guns but not necessarily all kinds without restrictions.

"Both before and after [the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut], similar military-style rifles and detachable magazines have been used to perpetrate mass shootings in places whose names have become synonymous with the slaughters that occurred there," he added, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The dissenting judges countered that the state banned the weapons due to a reputation gained by the actions of a few, saying that people frequently purchase rifles like the AR-15 for home defense and other uses.

"As long as the weapon chosen is one commonly possessed by the American people for lawful purposes -- and the rifles at issue here most certainly are," wrote Judge William B. Traxler in a dissent, according to The Washington Post. "The state has very little say about whether its citizens should keep it in their homes for protection."

Traxler then said that his fellow justices who ruled in favor of the gun ban have "gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms."

Sources: Salon, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun / Photo credit: M&R Glasgow/Flickr

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