A federal judge has upheld a package of strict firearms regulations that went into effect in Maryland last year.
In a 47-page opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake said the law “seeks to address a serious risk of harm to law enforcement officers and the public from the greater power to injure and kill presented by assault weapons and large capacity magazines.”
“The Act substantially serves the government’s interest in protecting public safety, and it does so without significantly burdening what the Supreme Court has now explained is the core Second Amendment right of ‘law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,’ ” she wrote.
Proposed by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in January 2013 in the wake of a mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 is one of the country’s strictest legislative packages for gun control.
In sum, the defendants have met their burden to demonstrate a reasonable fit between the Firearm Safety Act and the government’s substantial interests in protecting public safety and reducing the negative effects of firearm-related crime. Accordingly, the Act does not violate the Second Amendment.
— U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake
Under the law, gun owners are required to have a license for their firearm and they must submit their fingerprints as part of the application process. The law also adds 45 guns to a list of banned firearms and limits handgun magazines to no more than 10 rounds.
Judge Blake, appointed by President Clinton, agreed with lawyers for the state, who held that assault weapons and large-capacity magazines “fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual arms.” She also pointed out that the plaintiffs could not produce a single example in which an assault weapon or more than 10 rounds of ammunition were “used or useful” in an instance of self-defense in Maryland.
The opinion cites statistics showing that ownership of assault weapons and large-capacity magazines is comparatively rare and yet they are “disproportionately represented in mass shootings” as well as the murders of law-enforcement personnel.
“Upon review of all the parties’ evidence, the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right, and is inclined to find the weapons fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual,” Judge Blake wrote.
The lawsuit, which was backed by the National Rifle Association, was brought by Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore Inc., Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association, Maryland Shall Issue Inc., Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, National Shooting Sports Foundation, and several firearms dealers and Maryland residents.