CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey hailed a federal appeals court decision as a crucial victory in protecting the rights of gun owners across the state and beyond.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday a district court must adopt a strict standard when it reconsiders the constitutionality of a Maryland weapons ban, which prohibits sale, transfer and possession of certain firearms.
Morrisey led 21 states in arguing for strict scrutiny. The appeals court adopted the states’ position and further agreed that semiautomatic rifles and standard capacity magazines subject to Maryland’s ban are protected by the Second Amendment.
“Singling out these firearms is akin to banning certain categories of speech – both would be unconstitutional,” Morrisey said in a statement “My office remains committed to defending every West Virginian’s Second Amendment rights.”
West Virginia and its partners filed a friend of the court brief in November 2014. Any 4th Circuit ruling sets case law governing West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia for any similar future state or federal laws
The Maryland ban would apply to semiautomatic rifles and many standard capacity handgun magazines. The appeals court, in ordering the stricter review, ruled such a ban infringed upon core Second Amendment rights and severely burdened one’s constitutional ability to keep commonly used weapons in the home.
Thursday’s ruling did not strike down the Maryland law, but returned the case to district court for a second look under the stricter standard. Attorney General Morrisey said his office will monitor the case as it proceeds.
West Virginia filed its friend of the court brief with Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.