Supreme Court rejects pair of important gun rights appeals

In their orders posted Monday, the nation’s high court upheld Florida’s prohibition on the open carry of firearms and Maryland’s assault weapon ban.

The challenges, which have been pending with the court all summer, were among more than 100 petitions denied by the justices with each lacking the required four jurists to agree to accept the case for further review.

In Norman v. Florida, which came to Washington after it was denied by the Sunshine State’s Supreme Court, Florida’s law preventing the open carry of firearms with slim exceptions for use while hunting or fishing was upheld. The vehicle for the challenge came in an appeal of a 2012 second-degree misdemeanor conviction of Dale Lee Norman who was found guilty by a succession of lower courts for Open Carrying of a Weapon outside of his home when his shirt did not cover the handgun for which he had a concealed carry permit.

Backed by Florida Carry, the group argued the state’s ban is unconstitutional as concealed carry in the state is a licensed privilege, and does meet the right to keep and bear arms protected under the Second Amendment. The state is one of only five that ban almost all open carry.

At stake in Kolbe v. Hogan was the 2013 Maryland law signed by staunch anti-gun Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley that banned guns deemed “assault weapons” due to cosmetic characteristics and limited magazine capacity to 10 rounds.

Challeneged by gun rights advocates, in 2014 U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake ruled that AR-15 style rifles and others “fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual arms.”

Blake’s ruling was rejected on appeal by a three-judge panel of the U.S. 4th Circuit in 2016 who disagreed with her logic. This led to a retrial by a rare en banc panel of the entire court which stood behind the ban in a 10-4 ruling earlier this year.

The backers of the lawsuit, to include 21 state attorneys general and several gun rights groups, argued the firearms subject to the Maryland ban are protected under existing case law related to arms lawfully carried in common use. In fact, the states argue they have preempted cities and towns from instituting bans like Maryland’s, thus giving them a very real interest in the case.

In recent years the nation’s high court has shown a disinterest in taking Second Amendment arguments, swatting away cases challenging strict concealed carry permitting practices in California and New Jersey, allowing mandatory gun lock laws to stand, and upholding both local and state restrictions on guns characterized as “assault weapons.”