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Supreme Court declines review of state gun restrictions

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court on Monday denied review [order list, PDF] of two challenges to state gun restrictions backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) [advocacy website].

The first [Fourth Circuit opinion] was a challenge to Maryland's ban on semi-automatic rifles and large-capacity magazines, and the second [Florida Supreme Court opinion] was a challenge to Florida's ban on the open carrying of guns in public. In both cases, the lower courts upheld the restrictions, allowing the state laws to remain in place.

In upholding the ban on semi-automatic weapons, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] pointed to a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Heller v. District of Columbia, that indicated states may ban automatic weapons. The fourth circuit held that

the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are not protected by the Second Amendment. That is, we are convinced that the banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines are among those arms that are "like" "M-16 rifles" — "weapons that are most useful in military service" which Heller singled out as being beyond the Second Amendment's reach.
The measure was enacted in 2012 after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre [JURISTnews archive] that left 26 people dead in Newtown, Connecticut.

The Florida case involved a Florida man who was arrested in 2012 for walking with a handgun in a holster while walking on a sidewalk. Florida permits licensed carriers to have handguns outside of the home, but the weapons must be concealed. The court concluded that it was

satisfied that the State's prohibition on openly carrying firearms in public with specified exceptions, such as authorizing the open carrying of guns to and from and during lawful recreational activities, while still permitting those guns to be carried, albeit in a concealed manner, reasonably fits the State's important government interests of public safety and reducing gun-related violence.
Florida, South Carolina and Illinois are the only states that allow carrying concealed weapons but bar carrying guns openly.

The Supreme Court's denial to review these cases continues the court's seven-year streak of avoiding major gun cases. Their last decision regarding gun laws was in 2010, ruling that people across the country had the right to keep a firearm in the home for self-defense.

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