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Gun Rights Challenge Shot Down in Maryland

With even the plaintiffs admitting that their case is barred by recent precedent, a federal judge said he had no choice but to dismiss.

BALTIMORE, Md. (CN) — Batting down a legal battle of Maryland’s extensive ban on assault weapons, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the suit “had no grounding in law.”

The 2-page order comes just three months after the Firearms Policy Coalition and three of its members filed the complaint with help from a Maryland arms dealer and two more Second Amendment groups.

Somewhat counterintuitively, they reacted enthusiastically to this morning’s dismissal by Chief U.S. District Judge James Bredar.

“We are delighted that the District Court quickly ruled ... allowing this important case to move up to the Court of Appeals,” Adam Kraut, senior director of legal operations, said in a statement. “The court was bound to reach this result and has provided an opportunity for this case to continue on its trajectory to the Supreme Court without having to engage in the needless and wasteful litigation the state sought to force. We maintain optimism that the case will continue to work its way to a petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court.” 

The coalition has their eyes first on the Supreme Court, as the Fourth Circuit already upheld Maryland’s assault-weapons ban in Kolbe v. Hogan — a case that the federal appeals court heard en banc.

“Because Kolbe is binding law in the Fourth Circuit, only another en banc panel, which is unlikely, or the Supreme Court may overturn the grossly wrong Fourth Circuit precedent,” the coalition said Thursday. “The District Court’s dismissal of the Bianchi complaint allows the case to proceed in an expeditious manner without having to litigate at this time procedural and other issues which are without consequence to the ultimate decision on correcting the state of the law.”

Maryland expanded its ban on assault weapons after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, and the Fourth Circuit agreed with the state that citizens have no right to own military-style guns or large-capacity magazines.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. On-duty military personnel and law enforcement officers are exempt from the state ban on assault weapons, and the state told Bredar in answering the complaint it “den[ies] that the assault weapons restricted by Maryland law are ‘common’ firearms.”

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