Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Maryland Assault Weapons Ban

By: Beth Moreton | Published: Jun 04, 2024

The U.S. has long been held under scrutiny for its Second Amendment for citizens to have the right to own firearms — something some states have tried (and failed) to make changes to.

Maryland is one of the most recent states to have a case taken to the Supreme Court regarding gun laws, with the case being to challenge the assault weapon ban. However, the Supreme Court has now rejected the challenge.

Maryland’s Assault Weapon Ban

In 2012, Maryland enacted a ban on assault weapons after a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This ban only covered certain assault weapons.

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The law makes it a crime to possess, sell, transfer or purchase an assault long gun. This puts 45 specific weapons and their analogs under the law but still leaves a few semi-automatic handguns and rifles allowed.

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Supreme Court Rejects Maryland’s Assault Weapons Appeal

The Supreme Court has already rejected Maryland’s appeal regarding the ban on assault weapons, which are also known as semi-automatic firearms.

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Maryland state officials have been extremely defensive on the ban, stating that the number of mass shootings Maryland and the other U.S. states are getting out of control and that the ban needs to happen to protect the public’s safety.

Mexico Won a Lawsuit Against U.S. Gunmakers

In an entirely different turn of events, Mexico won a $10 billion lawsuit in February 2024 against U.S. gunmakers, as the country wants to put a stop to firearms being trafficked into it.

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Mexico stated that the gunmakers were allowing firearms to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, which ended up with the guns being in the possession of cartels. This led to a drastic increase in the number of homicides across the country. 

Maryland’s Assault Weapon Ban Will Remain in Law for Now

Due to the Supreme Court rejecting the challenge to the assault weapon ban, the law will remain in place for the time being. However, the challengers have asked to take their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.

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Their main question is whether the ban is allowed under the Second Amendment. The full 4th circuit heard the arguments for and against the ban in March 2024 but has yet to make a decision. Once the Court of Appeals has made a decision, the dispute is expected to end up back in front of the Supreme Court. 

The Supreme Court Did Not Deliberate the Case

As can be usual for a case in these circumstances, the Supreme Court did not deliberate the case, and it would have been unusual of them to do so. 

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As this case is currently being heard and deliberated over in a lower court, the Supreme Court felt it shouldn’t weigh in on it until the lower court has made its decision. 

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Maryland’s Assault Weapons Ban Has Previously Been Challenged

This isn’t the first time that the Maryland assault weapon ban has been challenged by the Supreme Court, as it was previously challenged and upheld by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

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However, after the 2022 gun rights ruling, a new set of plaintiffs have come up with another challenge for the Supreme Court to try and get them to take a second look at the ban. 

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The Plaintiffs Are Guns Rights Groups

Most of the plaintiffs involved in this case are made up of gun rights groups. Naturally, they are pro-gun and believe the Maryland ban on assault weapons is an infringement of their Second Amendment rights.

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The groups have made the argument that the weapons placed under the ban, such as the AR-15, are some of the most popular guns in the U.S. and that banning them is unlawful. 

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The Plaintiffs Sued Maryland in 2020

The plaintiffs who have taken this case to the Supreme Court have already been involved with Maryland’s assault weapons ban. In 2020, they sued the state because of the ban.

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They have said that calling them assault weapons isn’t the correct political term to use for them. They also stated in this case that the weapons shouldn’t be banned due to their common use across Maryland. 

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AR-15s Were Important in the Fight for Independence

In their case for the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs stated that AR-15s were important in American history since rifles, in general, were used against the British in the fight for independence and that banning them is essentially getting rid of American history.

A light brown AR-15 against a wooden background.

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The plaintiffs claimed the AR-15 is a common firearm for women and disabled people to use as it is light and easy to hold. They also stated it is popular for self-defense, hunting and range training because it is highly accurate. 

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The Supreme Court and Gun Bans

Other challenges and cases regarding the banning of guns have been taken to the Supreme Court, so this case isn’t completely unique.

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The court is still weighing up a follow-up case to its 2022 ruling of banning those who have been accused of domestic violence from owning firearms. It is also considering whether to turn over a federal ban on bump stocks, which are a type of gun accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire rapidly.

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The Supreme Court’s 2022 Handgun Decision

Another case taken to the Supreme Court in 2022 was set to decide whether the state of New York was allowed under the Consitution to place a ban on carrying handguns.

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The court decided that New York’s residents have a constitutional right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense, which was deemed a historic ruling. 

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