Supreme Court Stands Back

The Supreme Court on Monday, May 20th, decided not to review a challenge to a Maryland law that prohibits certain semi-automatic firearms commonly labeled as assault weapons, at least for now.

The court does not typically provide a reason for its refusal. It’s uncommon for the justices to consider a case at this stage, especially since a lower court is still deliberating it. The Supreme Court is also reviewing an appeal regarding a similar statute in Illinois. However, no action was taken on that case on Monday, leaving it as another potential route for addressing the issue.

The Court Must Not Infringe Upon the 2nd Amendment

The Maryland challengers, which include gun rights organizations, contended that semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15 are among the most popular in the country. They argued that prohibiting them infringes upon the Second Amendment, particularly following a significant Supreme Court decision in 2022 that broadened gun rights. That decision altered the criteria for assessing the constitutionality of gun laws, causing disruption to gun regulations nationwide.

Maryland’s attorney general highlighted mass shootings involving these weapons. The state maintained that they could be banned due to their classification as “highly dangerous, military-style” firearms. We see this argument as unfounded and argue that the person who intends to harm others is the root problem in these cases. In this writer’s opinion, blaming guns for mass shootings is like blaming cars for drunk driving accidents. 

The Supreme Court has encountered this law before: In 2017, the justices declined to hear a prior challenge before the current conservative majority solidified. However, five years later, the current justices instructed lower courts to re-examine the law after their 2022 ruling.

A Lower Court is Still Considering the Case

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals is still considering the case, and Maryland argued that the lower court should have the opportunity to decide before any Supreme Court intervention. The plaintiffs claimed that the appeals court has been too slow, including an unusual step of moving the case from a three-judge panel to the full circuit court.

Maryland enacted the comprehensive gun-control law following the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of 20 children and six adults in Connecticut in 2012. The law bans numerous firearms, commonly known as assault weapons, and imposes a 10-round limit on gun magazines.