FPC Challenge to Maryland’s “Assault Weapons” Ban Quickly Moves Up to Court of Appeals

Gun News

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND (March 4, 2020) — Firearm Policy Coalition (FPC) announced today that FPC’s lawsuit challenging the State of Maryland’s ban on so-called “assault weapons,” Bianchi v. Frosh, is quickly moving up to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

In the complaint, the “Plaintiffs acknowledge[d] that the result they seek is contrary to Kolbe v. Hogan,” a 2017 case in which the full Fourth Circuit inaccurately ruled that so-called “assault weapons” were not protected by the Second Amendment, “but that case was wrongly decided,” they argued. Thus, the plaintiffs “institute[d] this litigation to vindicate their Second Amendment rights and to seek to have Kolbe overruled.”

In an order issued today, Federal District Court Chief Judge James K. Bredar agreed with the plaintiffs, saying that Kolbe controlled, and dismissed the case sua sponte. While the State sought to litigate in a manner that would delay the lawsuit for months or years, potentially in an obstructive strategy to delay it moving up to the Supreme Court, today’s result thwarted the State’s efforts at delay.  

Because Kolbe is binding law in the Fourth Circuit, only another en banc panel, which is unlikely, or the Supreme Court may overturn the grossly wrong Fourth Circuit precedent. The District Court’s dismissal of the Bianchi complaint allows the case to proceed in an expeditious manner without having to litigate at this time procedural and other issues which are without consequence to the ultimate decision on correcting the state of the law. 

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“We are delighted that the District Court quickly ruled following our briefing on the Court’s prior order, allowing this important case to move up to the Court of Appeals,” said Adam Kraut, FPC’s Senior Director of Legal Operations. “The Court was bound to reach this result and has provided an opportunity for this case to continue on its trajectory to the Supreme Court without having to engage in the needless and wasteful litigation the State sought to force. We maintain optimism that the case will continue to work its way to a petition for certiorari at the Supreme Court.” 

On the West Coast, FPC’s Second Amendment challenge to California’s similarly unconstitutional ban on so-called “assault weapons,” Miller v. Becerra, recently concluded a two-day bench trial and is expected to be decided by the District Court soon. FPC is also actively preparing dozens of additional challenges to unconstitutional federal, state, and local gun control laws throughout the United States.

Firearms Policy Coalition and its FPC Law team are the nation’s next-generation advocates for the right to keep and bear arms and adjacent issues, having recently filed many major federal Second Amendment lawsuits, including challenges to the State of Pennsylvania’s and Allegheny County’s carry restrictions (Cowey v. Mullen), Philadelphia’s Gun Permit Unit policies and practices (Fetsurka v. Outlaw), Pennsylvania’s ban on carry by adults under 21 years of age (Lara v. Evanchick), California’s Handgun Ban and “Roster” laws (Renna v. Becerra), Maryland’s carry ban (Call v. Jones), New Jersey’s carry ban (Bennett v. Davis), New York City’s carry ban (Greco v. New York City), the federal ban on the sale of handguns and handgun ammunition by federal firearm licensees (FFLs) to adults under 21 years of age (Reese v. BATFE), and others, with many more cases being prepared today. To follow these and other legal cases FPC is actively working on, visit the Legal Action section of FPC’s website or follow FPC on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube.

Firearms Policy Coalition (firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend constitutional rights—especially the right to keep and bear arms—advance individual liberty, and restore freedom through litigation and legal action, legislative and regulatory action, education, outreach, grassroots activism, other programs. FPC Law is the nation’s largest public interest legal team focused on Second Amendment and adjacent fundamental rights including freedom of speech and due process, conducting litigation, research, scholarly publications, and amicus briefing, among other efforts.

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