Even though the Supreme Court has already ruled on the constitutionality of the Second Amendment in the Heller decision, the Fourth Circuit court judges decided to rewrite the opinion and ban certain guns and magazines.
In January, the court ruled that lawful gun owners are inherently “dangerous” and can face search and seizure limitations on their constitutional rights. Then last week in February, the court upheld Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and any magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition.
In order to reach that conclusion, the judges argued that an AR-15 rifle is essentially the same as a military M-16. David French suggests a good test. Walk into your local gun store and try to buy an M-16. You won’t be able to do so because it is an entirely different category of weapon. One is a semi-automatic civilian weapon, while the other is automatic military weapon.
In his dissent, Judge Traxler expressed concern about the court’s new test about whether a firearm is “most useful in military service.” Essentially that could be used to remove nearly all firearms from Second Amendment protection since most firearms could be used in military service.
The legal problem with the judge’s decision is that it says an AR-15 is unacceptable because it is semi-automatic. But every other gun that fires once per trigger pull also includes the handguns that were protected in the Supreme Court’s Heller decision.
The judges on the Fourth Circuit court begin their opinion by reciting the sad facts of the Sandy Hook massacre and then detailing other shootings. Unfortunately by focusing on the fear of mass shootings, they then go on to take from civilians one of the best weapons to confront a mass shooter: an AR-15 with a high capacity magazine.