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21 State AGs Argue 4th Circuit Ban on Modern Sporting Rifles Unconstitutional

The election of a new President may have lessened the threat to the Second Amendment at the federal level, but it increased the threat at the state and local levels. Gun control advocates no longer have a friend in the White House, and support in the House and Senate have waned as well. However, while many firearm enthusiasts have relaxed and taken their eye off the prize, the antis have been pressing their efforts to weaken the Second Amendment. One such example is Maryland’s semi-automatic modern sporting rifle ban. Fortunately, organizations such as the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have maintained their diligence. Read the full release from the NSSF. National Shooting Sports Foundation Logo NEWTOWN, Conn. — Twenty-one state Attorneys General have filed a joint amici curiae, or “friends of the court,” brief supporting the petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court by plaintiffs, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, to take up Kolbe v. Hogan, the case in which the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Maryland could ban semi-automatic modern sporting rifles on grounds they are “like” firearms in use by the military.

Led by West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey, the attorneys general ask the court to consider whether the lower court inappropriately limited the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by banning certain firearms typically owned by citizens by finding that those firearms would be most useful for military service.

Joining West Virginia’s effort are the attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

“We thank Attorney General Morrissey and the 20 other attorneys general who stand in respect of the rights of their citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for NSSF. “This is demonstrative of a widespread belief that Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overreached in their creation of a unique standard and twisted the guidance and wisdom of the Heller decision. We are encouraged and grateful that with this petition will be an opportunity to establish that our rights don’t end at a state’s border.” The attorneys general argue in their brief that the Supreme Court’s Heller decision established “in common use at the time for lawful purposes” and those “typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes,” as an individual right, and that Maryland’s modern sporting rifle ban “amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of arms.” The petition adds the Fourth Circuit adopted a “novel standard” in interpreting Heller and would replace the “common use” standard with a subjective judicial review of military use for firearms.

The attorneys general argue that review of the case provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of the Heller decision. Lower courts have issued disparate rulings and that has led to confusion concerning how Second Amendment rights are interpreted for citizens in different states.

Will the NSSF and state Attorneys General be successful? How do you believe the Supreme Court would further define or clarify the Heller decision? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (26)

  1. Be very careful about what you wish for. The balance in the Supreme Court is not necessarily favorable to our cause. It was 5/4 last time and all it would take is one judge to change his pro gun vote to no and we are screwed.It might be better to wait til one of the liberal judges is replaced with a pro-Constitution Judge. I don’t know his name but there currently is one swing vote judge on the court. He swings from right to left depending on what he had for breakfast.

  2. They can’t have it both ways! In 1934 they banned shotguns with barrels less than 18 inches because they were not suitable for military use! (National Firearms Act of 1934) Now they want to ban weapons that are suitable for military use! What’s logical about that?

    1. There are any number of catch 22’s in the law similarly nonsensical. For example. A waiting period for a handgun. Why? “Because it is small and concealable and therefore somehow presents a bigger threat.. BUT, put a stock on that handgun making it larger… and POOF!! you now have a SBR (short barreled rifle) which requires special (and expensive) licensing.. Why?.. Because now IT somehow ALSO presents a bigger threat.

  3. Right now the issue is, will the SCOTUS take the case. The odds of this happening have improved, but even favorable justices will balance the court’s priorities, which means it may be necessary for a few more District and Appeals Courts to reach conflicting decisions as to “assault” rifles and magazine capacity.

    The 21 state Attorneys General who are helping us reach the Supreme Court so we can get a final ruling, are to be lauded for their efforts. I have over 20 years of trial and appellate experience in federal and state courts on behalf of an Attorney General and I can assure you that these friends of the Court will not be ignored.

    The next 12 months are very important as to possible retirements of one or more Justices and whether your support of “friends of the Court” continues to be strong.

  4. This is such a crock. These states want to leach off the US Gov when it suits them but also act like some sort of domiciled country dictatorship when it suits their local agendas on personal rights. More and more of our states becoming plain “un American”. So as already mentioned what about the hunting rifles based off the Remi 700 and M1? Those are all “like” their military counterparts as is the AR platform, but of course these civilian issue guns are nowhere near proper for actual military service.

    This must be overturned because it only sets the stage to ban every and all gun based on what local law “thinks” is “like” a “military” weapon. I bet none of these lawmakers actually served, have zero idea on the differences.

    And – You notice no participation form Western US State AG’s? “Oppressed in the West”

    1. This “opinion” of the fourth circuit court just shows the ignorance of both the judges, anti-gun person’s and people who fail to even learn what a military weapon is vs a weapon used for hunting. The fact that most, not all hunting trifles that are semi-automatic as generally limited to 3-5 round or ammunition. Military weapons are designed with a tactical design in mind (if you have a mind to really kniw what your talking about) have capacity levels in some cases on 100 plus consecutive rounds and besides having semi-auto selection they have automatic fire which qualifies than as a “Military grade weapons limits it’s sales and ownership without special paperwork from the ATF to military or LEO personnel only” it has also been proven many time that a bolt action weapon, in the right hands can rapidly fire more accurately than a semi-auto weapon which makes then actually more effective for killing “whatever:. When individual state officials, especially legal based individuals come out so strong on such a simple and most meaningless decision, I begin to think and will find money as a motivation to these people as the incentive to make such fools of themselves. Either by the promise of future reinstament/election or campaign money filtered so it does not look direct is always traceable. Being an Intelligence officer, owing my own security firm for over 17 yrs a d habe been in security for over 30 plus years I have investigated cases like these more in the especially in the espianous areana and have been able to remove even two star generals from commands as well as places several individuals in life sentences for fraud, money laundering, treason against the people of the United States due to their own gread and egos that have them believing they are untouchable. But beware and insure you look over you shoulder as we have thousands of people looking into this exact type of anarchy which puts the US in harm’s way. Just ask France or Australia who bands weapons to see what their real murder rate is. Focus on real issues lime keeping ANY weapon out of the bad guys hands and let the bad guys remember that the US is the most armed nation in the world and also the number one able to perform sec defence at the civilian level when our troops are deployed fighting someone else’s war for you politicians.

    2. The statement that they can be banned because they are “like” military arms ignores the reasoning of the Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Miller (1939) that, incorrectly, upheld restrictions on short-barrelled shotguns because (to their knowledge) they were NOT standard mlitary weapons and therefore were NOT PROTECTED FOR CIVILIAN POSSESSION/OWNERSHIP BY THE SECOND AMENDMENT.

  5. As the squeaky wheel Sheep hide behind their bolted doors.As stock prices for door locking devices ,peep holes and alarm systems rise.
    We, Those who fought for their rights and freedoms to be safe Seek to remove the only threat to the violent predators, who will always have guns. US the law abiding gun owners, who cast a doubt onto the violent that the man and or woman behind them may be armed and a threat to their trying to do wrong. We hold the key to lowering violence and the freeing of the neighborhoods.held in fear by the gangs and dealers. turn them in or shoot back. either way defend your selves. stand up and take back control. we bear the British with or 2adm use it to take back our neighborhoods of good people. you have them now we have more. Get out.
    GOD BLESS AMERICA AND THE 2 AMENDMENT.
    STAND STRONG

  6. It has been argued that taxpayers who own no firearms receive no benefit, tangible or intangible from the litigation. One should compare America with the Second Amendment to, say, North Korea without it. We have a 230+ year history and tradition of individual freedom and responsibility, and resistance to tyranny. That is of benefit, both tangible and intangible to every person who lives and works in, and even visits this country.
    It is a fact that an armed citizenry suppresses crime. That in itself is good for business. Suppressing crime is certainly good for public safety and security. That is good for people.
    The citizens’ ultimate means of resisting crime and tyranny is to be armed. All the founding fathers knew this, and codified it into the second amendment. When a society respects individual liberty and property rights, everyone in the society benefits.

  7. I agree that judges should be removed for violating our 2nd amendment rights, they should be striped of their pensions and do some jail time. Let us not forget that the legislatures that create these illegal and onerous laws have taken an oath to protect the Constitution, They also should be tried for treason, jailed and striped of all pensions and privileges as well as paying damages, court costs. I would like to see aa few class action lawsuits filed against these law breakers .

  8. In Cali now but will come to your state soon: Conn has just started: They are not registering “Assault Weapon” they are registering the people so that when the time come’s they will know who to arrest: It’s not about the gun because if it was why without features are ok and these will be registered soon you just watch and other guns as well: They want to know who all owns guns so they can come and get you just like the Nazis did.

  9. Here is our problem we are the military we should have the same weapons as the military small arms wise not talking tanks and jets but the reason we have the right to own and bear arms in the first place is to fight enemies foreign or abroad and to even think of our firearms being taken away because of NATO or a state or the federal government well no body makes that decision for us just like people call it federal aid it is not federal aid it is our money it is our military I help you you help me we help each other that’s the real America and everybody has lost sight of that no more you’re not making my decisions for me on health care on what you think I should keep from my blood sweat and tears of hard work through the week well nothing against Trump I voted for the man but when he speaks of giving America back to Americans well shut the Feds down they have stepped over their boundaries long ago. Enough is enough.

  10. If a judge has his verdict overturned by another court because the original finding was unconstitutional, that judge who issued the original verdict should be automatically removed from the bench. Any verdict found to be unconstitutional is in violation of the oath taken by each judge to protect the Constitution

    1. Stare Non-Decisis! Don’t repeat bad decisions. The Federal Executive Legislature and Judiciary are not permitted to Infringe. America is lacking that which is Necessary to the Security of a Free State. Can a Free Man be compelled to do that which he does not choose to do?

    2. Unfortunately, it is not a crime to be wrong. If it can be demonstrated by the judges affiliations, that he/she is reasonably biased against the constitution, then action may be appropriate. Oh darn, there’s that word ‘reasonably’ again.

  11. The “most useful for military service” reasoning is fallacious in that it could ban all sporting rifles in common use today. The U.S. Army and the Marine Corps have large stocks of sniper rifles based upon the Remington 700 bold action hunting rifle that has been in use for over two generations by millions of American hunters. Nearly all bolt action hunting rifles in use today are very similar in operational design to military issued rifles used in WWI, WWII, and Korea. Cosmetics is not a logical basis for restricting firearms from a lawful citizenry.

  12. Since the 2A was written to ensure The People were well armed to repel invaders and tyrants alike, why pray tell the emphasis by the 4th Circuit on ensuring the populace is restricted to lesser arms? This shows their inherent liberal bias against 2A as written AND intended by the Founders.

    1. The answer lies in the events that led up to the National Firearms Act of 1934, which was a direct result of the so-called ‘Business Plot of 1933’ in which several powerful businessmen of the day sought to recruit retired Marine General Smedley Butler to lead a coup against FDR. Butler instead blew the whistle on the traitors.

      Whether the ‘plot’ itself may have been a false flag operation is debatable, as Congressional hearings were conducted but no arrests for (obvious) treason were made. But immediately after those hearings FDR and the Democrat-controlled Congress sought to limit the average citizen’s access to military-grade weaponry. via the NFA of 1934, to include automatic weapons. Rather like the so-called PATRIOT Act was instituted.

  13. Somehow the plight of the taxpayers who don’t feel the need to be armed to the teeth comes to mind. They also shoulder the enormous expense of this litigation, but (unlike shooting enthusiasts and interest groups) receive no benefit, tangible or intangible from it. Who always wins in today’s America? Why, the lawyers, of course!

    1. Yes, it is always the lawyers who cannot lose, they get paid no matter what the result. But it is not the fault of the shooting fraternity but rather the fault of those who feel that they have the right to say they do not feel OTHER PEOPLE have any need to be armed. Often whilst reserving the right for themselves or their employees to be armed because they are a special case.

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