Maryland – -(Ammoland.com)- – This past Wednesday, May 11, 2016, the oral argument was heard in Kolbe v Hogan before the en banc Court of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Briefly, Maryland Shall Issue, along with the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore, Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association, The National Shooting Sports Foundation, several individual dealers and several Maryland citizens, brought the lawsuit in October of 2013. It was heard in the United States District Court of Maryland in front of judge Catherine Blake on July 22, 2014. Judge Blake entered a summary judgment for the State and against the plaintiffs, and we (and the other plaintiffs) then appealed the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Our appeal was heard on March 25, 2015 in front of a three judge panel consisting of Chief Judge Traxler, Judge Agee, and Judge King. On February 4, 2016, the Fourth Circuit entered a split ruling in our favor, holding that strict scrutiny must be applied to the “assault” weapons ban, and the magazine capacity limitation imposed by The Firearm Safety Act of 2013. The State petitioned for rehearing en banc, and that petition was granted on March 4, 2016. The order granting en banc review had the effect of vacating the ruling from the three judge panel that was entered back in February, pending an order from the en banc Court.
Now that everyone is up to date, what happened this past Wednesday?
Our legal counsel, lead by John Parker Sweeney of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, did a great job of representing us again, this time in front of a 14 judge en banc Court. Mr. Sweeney presented our side in a highly persuasive fashion, answering questions from the court on various potential scenarios with regards to firearms ownership, lawful use and how to determine what is and is not in lawful use. Mr. Sweeney's answers well defended our position on why the firearms could not be banned under the Second Amendment.
While several of the judges were noticeably harsh with their questions for our legal counsel, an equal number of judges seemed friendly to our positions. Our counsel well and fully answered the Court's questions based on the Fourth Circuit's 2A precedent, such as Chester, Masciandaro, and Woollard, all which indicated that strict scrutiny must be applied to the core of the right in the home, per Heller and McDonald.
In my opinion, the State had a more difficult time answering questions posed by the Court. And while it is much harder to handicap this hearing, with 14 different judges versus the three on the previous panel, I am guardedly optimistic that the en banc Court will rule in our favor.
If you have not had a chance to listen to the oral arguments, here is the link: http://coop.ca4.uscourts.gov/OAarchive/mp3/14-1945-20160511.mp3.
It is well worth the time to listen. Before anyone asks how long do we have to wait for a ruling, the answer is, when the Court issues it.
The three judge panel took almost 11 months to issue their ruling the first time. An en banc Court, with 14 judges, all of whom are entitled to write their own opinion in a dissent or concurrence, may well take that long or longer.
Maryland Shall Issue
Mission Statement: Maryland Shall Issue is an all volunteer, non-partisan effort dedicated to the preservation and advancement of all gunowners’ rights in Maryland, with a primary goal of CCW reform to allow all law-abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon; and to the education of the community to the awareness that ‘shall issue’ laws have, in all cases, resulted in decreased rates of violent crime. Marylandshallissue.com.