A group of Maryland residents – with the help of the National Rifle Association and other 2nd Amendment organizations – formally filed a petition to the United States Supreme Court in an attempt to defeat the state’s assault weapon ban.
This year, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 10-4 in Kolbe v. Hogan that the State of Maryland was within its rights to ban certain types of firearms that the legislature defined as an “assault weapons.” The plaintiffs are now asking the Supreme Court to review the 4th Circuit’s decision on Maryland’s assault weapon ban.
The fundamental question posed by the NRA-backed lawsuit is whether Maryland can legally and constitutionally ban entire classes of firearms that are “in common use at the time.” This language is important because it is directly drawn from the Supreme Court’s 2008 case, District of Columbia v. Heller. In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right to own firearms for self-defense, especially if those firearms are “in common use at the time.”
The plaintiffs argue that the AR-15 is, by the numbers, the most popular rifle in America. The rifle is the semi-automatic (one shot per pull of the trigger) version of the U.S. Military’s M-16 or M4 assault rifles and it is estimated that at least five million Americans have an AR-15 in their gun safes. The lawsuit points to these statistics and asks how a type of rifle that is legally owned by so many Americans would not qualify as “in common use at the time.”