Maryland’s recently enacted ban on attachments that enable guns to fire more rapidly should be struck down as violating their owners’ constitutional right to due process, a gun-rights group has argued in a federal lawsuit.
If the law is upheld, owners forced to surrender these accessories popularly known as bump stocks should be paid just compensation by the state government, Maryland Shall Issue Inc. added in its complaint, filed Monday in federal district court in Baltimore.
MSI’s lawsuit followed Gov. Larry Hogan’s signing into law Senate Bill 707 on April 24. The statute, which goes into effect Oct. 1, prohibits individuals from manufacturing, possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing or receiving a “rapid fire trigger activator.”
The bill’s passage by a Democrat-led General Assembly and approval by a Republican governor followed the mass slaying last October at a Las Vegas country-music concert where police said they found the rapid-fire accessory on firearms used to kill 58 people.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh’s office endorsed the measure, stating in written testimony to legislators last winter “outlawing devices that allow a mass shooter to fire at a rate simulating automatic fire is an important addition to Maryland’s comprehensive firearm safety laws that protect the public and law enforcement from firearms violence.”
Frosh’s office said in a statement Tuesday it could not comment on the lawsuit because it had not received the complaint.
In the complaint, MSI calls the law unconstitutionally “vague” because several terms are undefined, including “’any device’ that increases ‘the rate of fire’ by any amount,” “’installed in or attached to a firearm’” and “’binary trigger system or burst trigger system or a copy or a similar device.’”
The statute is “so vague that it does not provide fair notice of the conduct it proscribes,” according to the complaint filed by MSI’s lawyer, Cary J. Hansel of Hansel Law PC in Baltimore. “These terms fail to provide standards to govern the actions of police officers, prosecutors, juries, and judges and thus will impermissibly lead to the risk of arbitrary and capricious law enforcement in violation of the Due Process Clause of the (federal Constitution’s) Fourteenth Amendment.”
In addition, owners stripped of their rapid-fire accessories by the law are owed just compensation, or fair market value, for the loss of their property under the Takings Clause of the federal and Maryland constitutions, the complaint states.
The case is Maryland Shall Issue Inc. et al. v. Lawrence Hogan, No. 1:18-cv-01700-JKB.