Federal Court Tosses Challenge to Maryland Ban on Bump Stocks

(CN) – A federal judge has tossed a class action by a gun rights advocacy group that sought to overturn Maryland’s ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks.

In an opinion issued on Friday, U.S. District Judge James Bredar said the plaintiff, which calls itself Maryland Shall Issue,  failed to prove that the the state ban violated their constitutional rights.

Maryland Shall Issue sued Governor Larry Hogan in June, two months after SB 707 was passed by the state General Assembly, claiming the ban amounted to an improper “taking” of their bumpstocks in violation of Fourteenth Amendment and the state constitution.

However, Judge Bredar found the group’s interpretation of the law lacking, and said they failed to clear standing issues as well.

“[Maryland Shall Issue] sues on its own behalf and on behalf of its members. However, [plaintiffs] do not allege a direct harm to itself sufficient to support standing in a non-representational capacity,” Bredar wrote.

The only direct harm the gun rights group alleged which came close to supporting its argument was the claim that the legislation was an obstacle to their organization’s objective and purpose.

But that injury was “neither concrete, nor particularized” Bredar wrote because a “mere interest in a problem, no matter how longstanding” is insufficient.

The group also stumbled in its attempt to use the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision Horne v. Department of Agriculture in its favor.

Horne found that the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment applies to personal property but Maryland Shall Issue failed to note the distinction between real and personal property made in the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“In [Maryland Shall Issue’s] reading, Horne effectively threw out a century or more of Takings Clause jurisprudence, obliterating the traditional distinctions between real and personal property, and between direct, physical appropriations and regulations,” Bredar wrote.

“This court would decline to apply such a breathtaking sweep to Horne even if the Supreme Court had been silent as to the scope of its ruling,” Bredar wrote.

It is also “undisputed,” Bredar said, that SB 707 involves neither the confiscation of bump stocks or the ceding of titles to other “rapid fire trigger activators” to the State of Maryland.

A push to ban bumpstocks was rolled out shortly after Nevada-resident Stephen Paddock opened fire on concertgoers at a musical festival in Las Vegas last October.

Paddock’s rifle was equipped with a bump stock device, allowing him to squeeze off 1,100 rounds.

He killed 58 and injured 851.

Months after the shooting, President Donald Trump instructed the Department of Justice to propose a notice and comment period for a rule banning devices like bumpstocks.

The Justice Department later proposed a rule which reclassified bump stock type devices as machine guns under federal law but no official changes have yet to be put into effect.

Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Washington have already banned bumpstocks.

 

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