In a ruling today, US District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake, a Clinton appointee, said that AR-15s and semi-automatic AK-47s were not protected by the Second Amendment. Her opinion came in a Maryland case, Kolbe et al v. O’Malley et al, in which the plaintiffs were challenging the state’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013.
Upon review of all the parties’ evidence, the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right, and is inclined to find the weapons fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual.
First, the court is not persuaded that assault weapons are commonly possessed based on the absolute number of those weapons owned by the public. Even accepting that there are 8.2 million assault weapons in the civilian gun stock, as the plaintiffs claim, assault weapons represent no more than 3% of the current civilian gun stock, and ownership of those weapons is highly concentrated in less than 1% of the U.S. population.
The court is also not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ claims that assault weapons are used infrequently in mass shootings and murders of law enforcement officers. The available statistics indicate that assault weapons are used disproportionately to their ownership in the general public and, furthermore, cause more injuries and more fatalities when they are used.
As for their claims that assault weapons are well-suited for self-defense, the plaintiffs proffer no evidence beyond their desire to possess assault weapons for self-defense in the home that they are in fact commonly used, or possessed, for that purpose.
Finally, despite the plaintiffs’ claims that they would like to use assault weapons for defensive purposes, assault weapons are military-style weapons designed for offensive use, and are equally, or possibly even more effective, in functioning and killing capacity as their fully automatic versions.
Plaintiffs in the case included the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Maryland Shall Issue, the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Maryland Licensed Firearm Dealers Association, a number of businesses, and individuals Stephen Kolbe and Andrew Turner. The defendants included Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD), Attorney General Douglas Gansler (D-MD), and the Maryland State Police.
In reaching her conclusions, Judge Blake relied extensively on the testimony of such anti-gun stalwarts as Prof. Daniel Webster of Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Christoper Koper of George Mason University, the Violence Policy Center, and Lucy Allen of NERA. She even accepted as valid a database maintained by Mother Jones Magazine. She refused the plaintiffs’ motion to exclude their testimony as flawed.
Judge Blake clearly indicates by her footnote on page 24 that she does not understand the difference between a M-16 and an AR-15. Indeed, she considers the AR-15 to be more dangerous.
The Supreme Court indicated in Heller I that M-16 rifles could be banned as dangerous and unusual. 554 U.S. at
627. Given that assault rifles like the AR-15 are essentially the functional equivalent of M-16s—and arguably more
effective—the same reasoning would seem to apply here.
Applying intermediate scrutiny to the case, Judge Blake concludes:
In summary, the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, which represents the considered judgment
of this State’s legislature and its governor, seeks to address a serious risk of harm to law
enforcement officers and the public from the greater power to injure and kill presented by assault
weapons and large capacity magazines. The Act substantially serves the government’s interest in
protecting public safety, and it does so without significantly burdening what the Supreme Court
has now explained is the core Second Amendment right of “law-abiding, responsible citizens to
use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Accordingly, the law is constitutional and will be
In looking at this ruling, it is time to call a spade a spade. This is a bullshit ruling by an extremely biased, anti-gun judge. It should and must be appealed.