Ruling is a big win for gun rights

Among the controversies in the firearms world, the most contentious are probably those that surround tactical rifles like the AR-15 and magazine limits. But gun rights advocates scored an important victory earlier this month.

A Maryland law prohibiting certain types of rifles, limited magazine capacities, and required fingerprinting of people wanting to buy handguns is under fire. And the latest court ruling on the issue may help overturn the law in the long run.

The Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013 was passed shortly after the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Those who were in favor of the law said it would prevent similar shootings by making it illegal to own any of 45 different types of semi-automatic rifles and magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Critics of the law, though, say it would do nothing to prevent criminals from obtaining those guns or magazines, and it would only make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to legally defend themselves.

And now a federal appeals court has said the same thing. The three-judge panel voted 2-to-1 to send the case back to the lower court, which had ruled the law constitutional. The appeals court, however, questioned that ruling.

In his opinion, Judge William Traxler, Jr., wrote, “There are legitimate reasons for citizens to favor a semiautomatic rifle over handguns in defending themselves and their families at home.” He also said, “For a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, or possesses (a large-capacity magazine) for use in firearms kept in the home, the (Firearms Safety Act) significantly burdens the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home.”

The law will remain in effect while the lower court takes another look at it. But because of the ruling by the appeals court, it will have to be changed significantly or repealed entirely. And that’s good news for law-abiding gun owners.