In the case of Kolbe v. O’Malley, the US Fourth Circuit of Appeals overturned a district court decision upholding the Maryland “Firearm Safety Act” which banned scary semi-auto rifles and full capacity magazines.
That law is now null and void and this creates a split between the Fourth Circuit and the Seventh Circuit (which upheld the Highland Park, IL scary gun ban).
We are giddy!
TRAXLER, Chief Judge, wrote the opinion for the court as to Parts I, II, and III, in which Judge Agee joined.
In April 2013, Maryland passed the Firearm Safety Act (“FSA”), which, among other things, bans law-abiding citizens, with the exception of retired law enforcement officers, from possessing the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens for defending their families and homes and other lawful purposes. Plaintiffs raise a number of challenges to the FSA, contending that the “assault weapons” ban trenches upon the core Second Amendment right to keep firearms in defense of hearth and home, that the FSA’s ban of certain larger-capacity detachable magazines (“LCMs”) likewise violates the Second Amendment, that the exception to the ban for retired officers violates the Equal Protection Clause, and that the FSA is void for vagueness to the extent that it prohibits possession of “copies” of the specifically identified semi-automatic rifles banned by the FSA. The district court rejected Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment challenges, concluding that the “assault weapons” and larger-capacity magazine bans passed constitutional muster under intermediate scrutiny review. The district court also denied Plaintiffs’ equal protection and vagueness claims.
In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment—“the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635 (2008), and we are compelled by Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), as well as our own precedent in the wake of these decisions, to conclude that the burden is substantial and strict scrutiny is the applicable standard of review for Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claim. Thus, the panel vacates the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claims and remands for the district court to apply strict scrutiny. The panel affirms the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection challenge to the statutory exception allowing retired law enforcement officers to possess prohibited semi-automatic rifles. And, the panel affirms the district court’s conclusion that the term “copies” as used by the FSA is not unconstitutionally vague.