Supreme Court rejects challenge to Maryland ‘assault weapon’ ban

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Supreme Court rejects challenge to Maryland ‘assault weapon’ ban

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a challenge to a gun law in Maryland that bans assault-style weapons such as the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, which has been used in various high-profile mass shootings.

The decision not to hear the case for now leaves the ban in place in the state. Litigation over the ban and similar laws enacted by other states is ongoing and the issue is likely to return to the justices. The court has an appeal pending concerning a similar law in Illinois.

The Supreme Court has been at the center of the gun rights debate following its 2022 decision that expanded rights under the Constitution’s Second Amendment. That ruling has led both to the enactment of state laws and to old ones being struck down by judges applying the justices’ new test.

The Maryland law bans what the state defines as “assault weapons” akin to weapons of war like the M16 rifle. Banned firearms include the AR-15. The state law was enacted in 2013 in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting, in which 20 children and six adults were killed the previous year.

That law was challenged in previous litigation and upheld by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. But a new set of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit following the 2022 gun rights ruling, and the Supreme Court ordered the appeals court to take a second look at the issue.

The appeals court has yet to rule despite having had almost two years to do so. The plaintiffs opted to leapfrog that step in the litigation and instead asked the Supreme Court to weigh in directly.

The court rarely takes up such appeals.

The high court is currently weighing a follow-up case to its 2022 ruling concerning a long-standing law that bans people accused of domestic violence from owning firearms. In a separate gun-related case, the court is also considering whether to strike down a federal ban on “bump stocks,” a type of gun accessory that allows semiautomatic rifles to be fired rapidly.

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