Fundamental Right to “Assault Weapons”

 In 2nd Amendment, opinion

Fundamental Right to “Assault Weapons”

Though we’re pretty sure they’ll take it to the Supreme Court, the 4th Circuit Court Court of Appeals has ruled that Maryland’s 2013 ‘Firearms Safety Act’ is a violation of the Constitution. The three judge panel ruled that the ‘vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens’ are a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

fundamental right

Divided Ruling

The ruled from the 3 judge panel was divided – 2  to 1. But the ruling was temporary- and the case may be decied fully by the Supree Court.

“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.” Judge William Traxler

The panel sent the case back to the District Court level with the admonition to apply “strict scrutiny” to the Maryland law.

The ruling states in part…

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…

…As is now well understood, Heller affirmed that the Second Amendment protects a preexisting “individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.” 554 U.S. at 592. “[D]eeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition,” McDonald, 561 U.S. at 768 (internal quotation marks omitted), this right is among the “fundamental rights necessary to our system of ordered liberty,” id. at 778. The right to keep and bear arms historically has been understood to encompass “self-defense and hunting,” Heller, 554 U.S. at 599, but Heller made clear “the central component of the Second Amendment right” is “individual self-defense,” McDonald, 561 U.S. at 767. Moreover, the right to keep arms is at its greatest strength in “the home, where the need for defense of self, family, and property is most acute.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 628. The FSA makes it unlawful for any citizen “to possess, . . . purchase, or receive” an “assault weapon.”

The bottom line, but the fight is not over

The court decided that the ability to protect “hearth and home” is a fundamental right of Americans. Forcing the District Court to apply “Strict Scrutiny” should make it difficult for states to ban all AR style weapons. But it is likely that this will go to the Supreme Court, as pushing it back to the District Court level will not make the ruling permanent. Strict Scrutiny is a test for Constitutionality. There are always areas of ‘wiggle room’ for courts and law makers to attempt to destroy our 2nd Amendment rights. This ruling simply made it a little more difficult. The fight is not over, America.

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