Last month the Supreme Court looked like it was trying to get out of the Second Amendment business when it refused to hear a case originating from Illinois that banned "assault weapons" (I use this phrase in scare quotes because no one really knows what the hell one is and how to differentiate it from any other long arm other than it is scarier to liberals). Justice Thomas hit the nail on the head when he complained about the refusal to take the case:
"If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all), then the Second Amendment guarantees nothing," he wrote, and added that those earlier decisions enshrining the right to gun ownership shouldn't be expected to "clarify the entire field."
Now the Fourth Circuit has ruled just the opposite:
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit said the state's prohibition on what the court called "the vast majority of semi-automatic rifles commonly kept by several million American citizens" amounted to a violation of their rights under the Constitution.
"In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment -- the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home," Chief Judge William Traxler wrote in the divided ruling.
Provisions that outlaw these firearms, Traxler wrote, "substantially burden this fundamental right."
"This case was a major victory for the NRA and gun rights advocates," said Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in Second Amendment law. "This opinion is an important one because it subjects important gun control laws to the most strict form of judicial scrutiny."
Indeed, the biggest surprise in Chief Judge Traxler's 66-page opinion is the words "strict scrutiny," a stringent constitutional test that most government laws and regulations fail. Other courts have applied more forgiving standards to similar gun legislation and upheld it.
The 4th Circuit's decision didn't outright strike down the Maryland legislation. Instead, it instructed a lower court to subject the provision to the higher legal standard, meaning more litigation and the possibility of a future showdown at the Supreme Court -- though maybe not yet, according to Winkler.
As if to underscore the utterly corrupt nature of the gun-grabber argument, this is from the liberal dissent in the case:
As if to illustrate the volatile politics and legalities of gun control, dissenting Circuit Judge Robert King all but declared that the court's ruling would lead to the next mass shooting.
"Let's be real," King wrote. "The assault weapons banned by Maryland's [law] are exceptionally lethal weapons of war."
Note that King doesn't concern himself with the facts, the law, or the Constitution. He dwells solely on feeling and the warm squishy feeling he feels in his drawers when he sees a semi-automatic rifle.