LI: Big #2A Win – 4th Circuit Applies Strict Scrutiny to Maryland Gun Control Law


From my post over at Legal Insurrection:

In 2013, Maryland enacted its Firearms Safety Act (FSA). With its passage, effectively banning its residents from owning any of the large majority of semi-automatic rifles owned by American citizens (exceptions were made for retired law enforcement officers). The FSA also imposed other restrictions, such as banning certain standard-capacity magazines.

Such laws are common in blue states, of course, and when challenged in the Federal courts on the grounds that they violate the Second Amendment they are typically subject only to intermediate (or lesser) scrutiny. Generally speaking, if the State can articulate virtually any purportedly reasonable basis for the gun law, it survives scrutiny. Merely uttering the words “public safety” is usually sufficient for this purpose.

Of course, normally laws that arguably infringe an enumerated Constitutional rights are not subject to mere intermediate scrutiny, but rather they are subject to strict scrutiny. To survive strict scrutiny the law must advance not merely any governmental interest, but in particular a compelling governmental interest. It is perhaps arguable that “public safety” would serve to meet this requirement. In addition, however, the law must also be narrowly tailored to actually achieve that interest. It is this second requirement that almost invariably leads to the law in question being found to be unconstitutional.


Today, the United States Court of Appeals for 4th Circuit did exactly that, applying strict scrutiny to Maryland’s “Firearms Safety Act,” in a two-to-one decision that could change the face of gun laws for Maryland (arguably one of the most anti-gun states in the nation), and perhaps portend similar relief for the beleaguered residents of New York, New Jersey, California, and the few other remaining anti-gun states. This decision is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Do click over and read the whole thing.