AGs Argue 4th Circuit Ban on Modern Sporting Rifles Unconstitutional
NEWTOWN, Conn. — Twenty-one state Attorneys General have filed a joint amici curiae, or "friends of the court," brief supporting the petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court by plaintiffs, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation, to take up Kolbe v. Hogan, the case in which the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decided Maryland could ban semi-automatic modern sporting rifles on grounds they are "like" firearms in use by the military.
Led by West Virginia's Patrick Morrisey, the attorneys general ask the court to consider whether the lower court inappropriately limited the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms by banning certain firearms typically owned by citizens by finding that those firearms would be most useful for military service.
Joining West Virginia's effort are the attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
"We thank Attorney General Morrissey and the 20 other attorneys general who stand in respect of the rights of their citizens to keep and bear arms," said Lawrence G. Keane, Senior Vice President and General Counsel for NSSF. "This is demonstrative of a widespread belief that Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overreached in their creation of a unique standard and twisted the guidance and wisdom of the Heller decision. We are encouraged and grateful that with this petition will be an opportunity to establish that our rights don't end at a state's border."
The attorneys general argue in their brief that the Supreme Court's Heller decision established "in common use at the time for lawful purposes" and those "typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes," as an individual right, and that Maryland's modern sporting rifle ban "amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of arms." The petition adds the Fourth Circuit adopted a "novel standard" in interpreting Heller and would replace the "common use" standard with a subjective judicial review of military use for firearms.
The attorneys general argue that review of the case provides an opportunity for the Supreme Court to clarify the scope of the Heller decision. Lower courts have issued disparate rulings and that has led to confusion concerning how Second Amendment rights are interpreted for citizens in different states.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. For more information, visit www.nssf.org