Judge won't block new gun laws in Maryland - New York News

Judge won't block new gun laws in Maryland

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BALTIMORE, MD -

A federal judge in Baltimore has refused to block implementation of Maryland's new gun control law. Many assault rifles and big ammunition clips can no longer be purchased in Maryland.

After the slaughter of children at a school in Newtown, Connecticut last December, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley asked the legislature for more restrictions on gun and ammunition sales. The legislature agreed, and the new regulations are now in effect.

Gun shop owners -- and their attorneys -- came to federal court in Baltimore to complain that the new rules violate the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. One attorney argued that now-banned assault rifles should be available for sale so that "law abiding Marylanders" can use them in their homes for self defense.

The home-defense argument was also used in an effort to enjoin the state from forbidding the sale of large ammunition clips.

Another attorney complained that the new licensing procedures for handguns in Maryland amounted to a de facto moratorium on their purchase. The judge acknowledged that the state is currently swamped with applications, but she ruled "there is a strong public interest in upholding a... law designed to prevent tragedies such as Newtown."

On the issue of assault weapons for home defense, U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake noted that handguns are the general preference for that purpose, and shotguns would still be legally available. She said "no" to a temporary restraining order.

The plaintiffs in the case declined comment to reporters gathered at the courthouse door. But interested observers from both sides of the gun-control debate did speak.

"This law is constitutional," declared Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence. "It will save lives [and] keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others that shouldn't have them without infringing on the Second Amendment rights of anyone." DeMarco applauded the judge's denial of a TRO.

Shannon Alford, with the NRA Institute for Legislative Action, had a very different take on the judge's decision to let the new Maryland law stand: "This is not a ruling on the merits of the arguments. The fat lady hasn't sung. She hasn't even taken the stage, yet."

The judge did indicate that further arguments on the merits of the case will be scheduled. But, for now, Maryland's tough new gun law remains in effect.

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