RICHMOND, Va. — The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ignored precedent and the Constitution in ruling this week that semi-automatic weapons don’t have Second Amendment protections, critics say.
In a 10-4 decision upholding Maryland’s ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, the judges went further than previous courts have in ruling that “assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment.”
The Maryland law, passed after a mass shooting, was called the Firearms Safety Act (FSA) of 2013, and it banned AR-15s and most magazine-fed semi-automatic rifles.
Second Amendment advocates and firearms dealers challenged the law in a case called Kolbe vs. Maryland.
Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote in a dissent that the Fourth Circuit has “gone to greater lengths than any other court to eviscerate the constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms.”
The majority ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which dealt with handgun ownership and the right to self-defense, has no impact on semi-automatic rifles.
“We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” Judge Robert B.