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Maryland’s harsh gun laws and AG Gansler’s misinformation

Written By | Jan 7, 2015

WASHINGTON January 7, 2015  – Maryland, at least in recent memory, has never been known to be a gun friendly state.

With the passage of the Maryland Gun Safety Act of 2013 in response to the tragedies of Newtown in 2012, Maryland become home to some of the harshest gun laws in the country. The law enacted bans on dozens of semi-automatic firearms, including the widely owned AR-15, and the venerable civilian model of the AK-47 and many of its variants.

The law has since been challenged a number of times, and upheld by several courts. However an appeal filed by a number of gun rights groups and businesses, as well as an amicus brief filed on behalf of the suit by twenty one state attorney generals, have forced Maryland to respond, and clarify their position on some of the most controversial firearms issues facing us today.

Filed on the day of the deadline, the “Brief of Defendants-Appellees” is now former attorney general Doug Gansler’s response to the appeal filed by the various gun control groups in the case entitled Steven V. Kolbe v. Martin O’Malley (4th Circuit Court of Appeals case number 14-1945). While the brief is seventy four pages long, and filled with cited case law and precedent, several particular passages stand out as noteworthy.

“The banned firearms [AR-15’s and AK-47’s] are not commonly used for self-defense, and more than ten rounds are rarely, if ever, required for self-defense. Thus, the banned firearms and magazines do not fall within the scope of the Second Amendment’s protection.” Pg. 24 of 74, under “Summary of Argument.”

AG Gansler goes on to argue that “The plaintiffs have failed to identify a single incident in which an individual in Maryland has used an assault weapon in self-defense, and Maryland law enforcement officers were similarly unaware of any such incident.” Pg. 36 of 74.

To clarify, the government of Maryland has just stated in an American court that semi-automatic rifles are not used for self-defense, and people do not required more than ten rounds to defend themselves, and therefore are not covered under the scope of the amendment that was put into the Constitution to ensure the people’s right to bear arms.

This statement, safely made by a man who would no longer hold the post of attorney general a week after the submission of this brief, begs the question of whether or not Maryland lawmakers and administrators watch the news, and it disregards on the basis of opinion the rulings of Heller and McDonald from the US Supreme Court.

In March of 2013, a student in New York used an AR-15 to defend himself and his roommates against a number of armed intruders..

In May of 2013 a North Carolina man used an AR-15 to defend himself against an early morning home invader.

In April of 2013 a gas station attendant and Iraq War veteran used an AR-15 in self-defense during an attempted robbery.

In January of 2014 a homeowner in Florida used an AK-47 to defend himself against three armed home invaders .

These stories exist and are not that uncommon, common enough for a cursory search by AG Gansler or his people to find out that while he may not be aware of AR-15’s being used for self-defense in Maryland, they certainly are being used in other states.

For AG Gansler to summarily ignore that, or deny that, is to intentionally mislead the courts and public opinion as to the frequency of these events.

In addition to his apparent lack of knowledge concerning the use of these weapons in self-defense, AG Gansler also does not adequately address the issues of the Heller decision or the McDonald decision. If we take the logic of the Heller decision, being that it is unlawful to ban an entire class of weapons so prevalently and commonly owned and used for self-defense, then we can reach the conclusion that the Maryland Gun Safety Act of 2013, which bans many AR-15’s and most AK-47 variants does in fact violate the Constitution.

In addition, since the McDonald decision affirmed the idea that the Second Amendment and its rights apply to the states, we could concur that a state law banning a class of firearms is in fact unconstitutional.

Further contemplation on the logic used by AG Gansler is only perplexing, and somewhat maddening when one takes into account the role of the right to bear arms and the role of the government. Here, the government of Maryland is summarily dismissing all instances of evidence pertaining to the usefulness of AR-15’s based on his opinion that they are rarely, if ever, used for self-defense in the state of Maryland. Essentially, he and the lawmakers of Maryland have decided the manner in which an individual may legally defend himself, as well as the tools by which he or she is given leave to do so. In addition, AG Gansler argues that ten rounds is enough for self-defense, which he bases entirely on the idea that he has not heard of any instance where more than ten rounds is needed, and therefore no one needs more than ten rounds.

This is to be expected from Maryland, but it is disheartening nonetheless. The same state that requires individuals to justify their need to apply for a concealed carry permit, is unsurprisingly the same state which then dictates to law abiding citizens the number of rounds they need to adequately defend themselves.

Who knows, maybe the law will turn every law abiding citizen in Maryland into crack shots, what pleasant irony that would be.

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Conor Higgins

Conor Higgins has a BA from Catholic University in DC and an MA form George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, both in history. When he not getting his hands dirty in 2nd Amendment and firearms news he is doing his best to take a crack at some drive-by political analysis. And every now and then he may or may not review a low end bourbon for the tax write off. Sit back, relax, and enjoy Back Porch Politics.