RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – A federal appeals court in Virginia spent more than an hour vigorously questioning lawyers about the constitutionality of Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and large-capacity gun magazines.
Thirteen judges of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in a lawsuit challenging the ban Wednesday. The court typically takes several weeks to rule.
A key issue is whether a federal judge who upheld the ban applied the correct legal standard for issues involving constitutional rights. A three-judge panel of the appeals court ruled in February that she did not and sent the case back to the judge for another look using a more rigorous standard. The state appealed that 2-1 decision.
Maryland lawmakers passed the sweeping Firearms Safety Act after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut. Gun-rights advocates went along with most of the law but challenged the provision banning 45 assault weapons and the 10-round limit on gun magazines.