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Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. (File)

Frosh seeks 4th Circuit en banc review of gun-control ruling

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s attorney general has appealed a decision by a three-judge panel that sent the state’s assault weapons ban back to a lower court for review.

Attorney General Brian Frosh announced Friday the state has asked the entire 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case.

Frosh is asking for the rehearing so that the full court weighs in on how Maryland’s ban on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines should be analyzed for constitutionality.

A federal judge in Baltimore ruled the assault weapons ban should be reviewed using a constitutional test that allows for laws that protect important public interests such as health and safety.

But a divided three-judge panel determined in a 2-1 decision earlier this month that the ban should face the strictest level of constitutional review.

“In sum, for a law-abiding citizen who, for whatever reason, chooses to protect his home with a semi-automatic rifle instead of a semi-automatic handgun, or possesses an LCM for use in firearms kept in the home, the FSA significantly burdens the exercise of the right to arm oneself at home,” Chief Judge William B. Traxler Jr. wrote in the panel’s majority opinion that Judge G. Steven Agee joined. “Strict scrutiny, then, is the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply to the ban of semi-automatic rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds.”

Frosh said following the panel’s ruling that the 4th Circuit is the only court to have held that strict scrutiny applies to assault-style-weapon bans and predicted that higher courts will not require that the state show a compelling interest for the ban.

The bans are narrowly tailored to achieve the state’s compelling interest in “public safety,” Frosh added.

The case is Stephen V. Kolbe et al. v. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. et al, No. 14-1945.