Nate Jackson / Feb. 5, 2016

A Big Win for the Second Amendment

Maryland's "assault weapons" ban must face "strict scrutiny."

It’s been a bad week for What’s-His-Name. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley dropped out of the Democrat presidential race Monday night after a predictably pitiful showing in Iowa. Then on Thursday, the Fourth Circuit Court struck down his signature “assault weapons” ban, rammed through in Democrats’ exploitative gun-grabbing frenzy after Sandy Hook. The Maryland law — a ban he promised to replicate at the national level if elected president — prohibited some semiautomatic rifles and so-called high-capacity magazines (by which they mean standard capacity). But the court concluded those instruments meet the Supreme Court’s measure of being “in common use by law-abiding citizens,” and the three-judge panel sent the case back to U.S. District Court with instructions to apply “strict scrutiny.”

Here’s the money quote from the ruling: “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.” In other words, though other appeals courts have failed to uphold the Constitution, the Fourth Circuit says the Maryland ban clearly violates the Second Amendment, and the lower court needs to figure that out.

Gun writer Bob Owens explains the significance, writing, “If the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision stands (it will almost certainly be appealed) and the courts hold that strict scrutiny should apply to Second Amendment cases as they do every other law restricting constitutional rights, then most of the gun control laws in the United States will eventually fall like dominoes.”

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