Assault Weapon Ban Case Reaches Supreme Court

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A constitutional challenge to Massachusetts restrictions on some semiautomatic firearms and large-capacity magazines reached the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, marking the fourth gun-related petition that asks the high court for regulatory guidance in the new term. A petition in the case Worman v. Healey was filed on behalf of a group of firearm owners, dealers and an advocacy organization, reports the National Law Journal. John Parker Sweeney is lead counsel for the challengers. The justices in recent years have shown reluctance to wade into Second Amendment issues. The court did agree to decide whether restrictions on the transport of guns outside of New York City violate the Second Amendment and other provisions. Oral arguments are scheduled Dec. 2.

“The courts below upheld Massachusetts’ ban on possession of popular semiautomatic firearms and standard ammunition magazines by law-abiding, responsible citizens, infringing their right to keep and bear arms for lawful purposes, including self-defense,” Sweeney wrote in Monday’s petition. The Massachusetts law is modeled after the 1994 federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. The state law restricts the sale, transfer and possession of certain semiautomatic weapons and gun magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. A federal appeals court, with retired Justice David Souter on the panel, upheld the regulations. In signing the bill into law, then-Gov. Mitt Romney, now a Republican U.S. senator from Utah, declared that semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity magazine “are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.” The banned firearms in Massachusetts include AR-and AK-platform rifles, weapons that have been used, among others, in mass shootings around the country. In 2015, Walmart stopped selling semiautomatic firearms—including the AR-15 rifle—and the company recently announced plans to end ammunition sales.

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