In 2013, Maryland lawmakers made their position on tough gun laws very clear when they passed the Firearm Safety Act. That Act rendered the sale, purchase, and transfer of semiautomatic handguns that have a magazine capacity of greater than 10 rounds illegal. The Act also criminalized the possession of some assault rifles and pistols. The Firearm Safety Act caused a stir with advocacy groups for firearms rights like the NRA, but it’s ultimately held strong.

For and Against

Many politicians and anti-gun lobbyists have been enthusiastic about the ban and have hailed it as an important victory in the fight against gun violence. In Maryland’s first round of litigation, the state prevailed when the federal district court judge found that the state had not overreached constitutional boundaries when it banned those weapons that it deemed were for no other purpose than violence. Round two of litigation, however, went to the NRA and the other original plaintiffs when the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals lobbed the decision back to district court because the Fourth Circuit found that the district court judge employed a flawed standard in implementing a test to check the balance of governmental intrusion with protection of the people.

Further Litigation

Maryland appealed, and the Fourth Circuit once again heard the case. Ultimately, the Fourth Circuit ruled that the Second Amendment doesn’t preclude Maryland from banning assault rifles, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in a similar Washington D.C. case. This appeals court decision finds that state lawmakers – not the courts – are ultimately responsible for protecting the safety of their residents and, thus, should be allowed to regulate assault weapons and large capacity magazines (referred to in the majority decision as weapons of war). The strong dissenting opinion of the minority, however, argued that states should not be allowed to determine the kind of weaponry that state residents can obtain for self-protection – especially when that weaponry is currently available for legal possession by thousands of Americans who live in states other than Maryland.   

Evolving Firearm Legislation

Firearm laws can evolve relatively quickly, and Maryland’s latest foray into new legislation is no exception – stay tuned. If you face criminal gun charges in Maryland, however, the law stands as implemented. Criminal gun charges in Maryland are very serious and can carry mandatory jail time. If you’re facing gun charges in Maryland, you need experienced legal counsel.

If You’re Facing Gun Charges, Discuss Your Case with a Baltimore Criminal Defense Attorney

Maryland has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, and gun charges in Maryland are subject to harsh penalties. If you or someone you care about is facing gun charges in Baltimore, Maryland, call criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice of the Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 – or contact him online – for a free case evaluation today.


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