SCOTUS declines to take up challenge to Maryland's 'assault weapons' ban

 May 21, 2024

Supporters of the Second Amendment have been hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court would soon take up one or more of several legal challenges against state-level bans on so-called "assault weapons" like the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle and its variants.

Unfortunately, those hopes were delayed on Monday as the Supreme Court declined to take up a case against Maryland's "assault weapons" ban, according to The Hill.

That said, all hope was not lost, as the language of the exceedingly brief denial left open the possibility that the case could be considered at a later date.

Petition to review Maryland's "assault weapons" ban denied ... for the time being

In an Order List released on Monday, it was revealed that the Supreme Court had rejected -- at least for now -- the Maryland assault weapons ban case known as Bianchi v. Brown.

Without any additional elaboration, the court stated, "The petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment is denied."

The words "before judgment" are key here, as the Bianchi case is actually still pending at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that wording signals the chance that the high court could decide to take up the case at a later date once the appellate court finally gets around to rendering its decision on the matter.

Awaiting a Fourth Circuit ruling on the case

NBC News reported that Maryland's assault weapons ban became law in 2013 in response to the Sandy Hook mass shooting, and an initial challenge against its constitutionality failed several years later when the Fourth Circuit upheld the law.

After the Supreme Court's 2022 Bruen ruling that expanded gun rights and established a new test to gauge the constitutionality of gun control laws, a new challenge was mounted that swiftly ended up at the high court only to be kicked back down again in light of Bruen, where it has since languished at the Fourth Circuit for nearly two years.

The case is considered critical by gun rights and gun control advocates alike, as however the Supreme Court ultimately rules on the matter will be applied to challenges against similar bans on AR-15 rifles and other so-called "assault weapons" in other states.

One of those other states is Illinois, and NBC News noted that an appeal to a circuit court's ruling on that ban is currently pending a decision on whether to be picked up or denied by the Supreme Court.

A "disappointing" denial, but also still a "glimmer of hope" for the future

Ammoland reported on the Supreme Court's rejection of the Bianchi case and observed that while it was "disappointing" it was also "not unexpected" given how the Fourth Circuit has yet to issue a final ruling on the matter.

The outlet, quoting Second Amendment advocate Mark Smith, said, "The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case at this stage suggests they are waiting for a complete record and a definitive ruling from the lower courts before considering it."

It also noted a potential "glimmer of hope" for gun rights supporters in that the multiple cases challenging the Illinois ban have not yet been denied, which according to Smith "might indicate they are still under consideration."

"These cases could be seen as better candidates for Supreme Court review because they address newer legislative approaches to gun control, potentially providing a more relevant and current context for the Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment," he added.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
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