A federal judge in Maryland struck down a 2013 Maryland law that prohibited people with criminal records from purchasing or possessing guns.
U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake ruled Friday that the law violated the Second Amendment.
Blake wrote that the law “prohibits law-abiding citizens from simply exercising their Second Amendment rights to purchase a gun, knowing or with reasonable suspicion that they might later use these same rights to commit a violent crime.” She wrote in the decision that the statute also violates the rights of law-abiding people who own guns.
“The prohibition is a direct infringement on the Second Amendment, which makes a gun itself a weapon,” Blake wrote in the statement. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that the Second Amendment protects citizens’ right to possess weapons, whereas the states’ authority to enact laws to protect themselves from dangerous individuals is limited by a host of federal statutes. Because the Second Amendment is one of the most important provisions of the Constitution, it is best left to the states alone to decide when a right is to be recognized and by whom.”
The ruling comes as a major battleground in the state over gun rights. The Court ruled in 2013 that the state’s ban on handgun buying and possession was unconstitutional. But the ruling left unanswered the question of who has the right to buy, sell and own a weapon.
The legal brief supporting the ruling is expected to be filed later in the day. Judge Blake is not allowed to issue a written decision and must instead issue a preliminary injunction, based on the law’s constitutionality.
In March, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in dissent in a Maryland case that “we have held in prior cases that the right to possess guns for self-defense does not depend on the fact that the owner has a particularized ‘good reason’ for the possession.”
Alito wrote the majority opinion upholding Maryland’s handgun ban, which was challenged by six people who maintained that the law violated their right to bear arms. The majority opinion said the Court does not have the authority to second-guess the state’s gun statutes, a ruling that could influence other courts or the U.S. Supreme Court.
Blake also struck down a state law that requires people in mental hospitals to report to a police officer who questions them for potential access to guns.
“We hold, as Justice Alito has recognized, that ‘the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to protect themselves against unreasonable governmental interference with their lives,'”
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