The Supreme Court has decided against taking up a challenge to Maryland’s ban on bump stocks and other devices that help guns fire faster.
The ruling in Maryland Shall Issue Inc. v. Hogan, court file 20-855, came in an unsigned order on May 3. In line with its custom, the court didn’t explain why it denied the petition for certiorari, or review.
The decision came after the high court decided on April 26 to hear New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Corlett, court file 20-843. In that case, lower courts upheld a state law requiring individuals to obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon outside the home. The hearing will likely take place in the fall.
It also came as the Biden administration embarks on a crackdown on what it calls a “gun violence public health epidemic.” President Joe Biden wants to ban arm braces for pistols and do-it-yourself gun-making kits, as well as to promote so-called red flag laws, which encourage snitching on law-abiding gun owners.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, signed the law known as SB707 in April 2018.
SB707 provides that no person may “manufacture, possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive a rapid-fire trigger activator” in Maryland, according to the petition filed by Baltimore-based nonprofit Maryland Shall Issue. Breaking this law is a criminal misdemeanor subject to a term of imprisonment up to three years, a fine of up to $5,000, or both.
Maryland Shall Issue didn’t question the state’s authority to outlaw “rapid-fire trigger activators,” but demanded “just compensation” for the forced dispossession of previously legal private property which Marylanders had lawfully purchased or possessed before SB707.
Mark Pennak, counsel of record for and president of Maryland Shall Issue, said that given the current case law and circumstances, a challenge to the law under the U.S. Constitution’s takings clause and the takings clause and due process clause of the Maryland Constitution seemed the best course of action.
The banned devices are “perfectly legal private property,” but according to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision, Maryland gets “to ban possession of ordinary private property,” Pennak told The Epoch Times in an interview.
The result is that “if your property doesn’t meet with political favor in Annapolis, well then, too bad.”
“We still have the option of pursuing these takings claims in state courts which are not bound under the 4th Circuit decision, and we intend to do precisely that,” he said. “We will go under the state constitution, because if anything, it is more protecting of private property than the federal constitution.”
The statute bans a “bump stock, trigger crank, hellfire trigger, binary trigger system, burst trigger system, or a copy or a similar device, regardless of the producer or manufacturer,” as well as any “rapid fire trigger activator,” which is defined as “any device” that, when installed in or attached to a firearm, “increases” the “rate at which a trigger is activated” or “the rate of fire increases.”
The ban came after a high-profile mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, in which gunman Stephen Paddock attached bump stocks to semiautomatic rifles he used to shoot Route 91 Harvest Music Festival attendees from his hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip.
“The use of bump stocks enabled the gunman to fire more than a thousand rounds of ammunition in just ten minutes, a rate of fire comparable to that of machine guns banned by federal law,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat, stated in a brief filed with the Supreme Court.
“In response to the Las Vegas shooting, Maryland, like many other States, exercised its police powers to outlaw bump stocks and other devices that mimic the firepower of a machine gun.”
Separately, Frosh told The Epoch Times that the Supreme Court did the right thing in refusing to take the case.
“Upholding Maryland’s ban on bump stocks is common sense,” Frosh said in an emailed statement.
“These devices caused mass destruction in Las Vegas: 60 deaths, more than 400 wounded, and more than 800 total injuries. Bump stocks serve no useful social purpose, but can exact a staggering human toll.”
The Trump administration banned the sale and possession of bump stocks in 2019, with the Department of Justice amending the regulations of its Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, finding that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machine gun” under federal law because they “allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.”
The Supreme Court refused to block the government at that time from enforcing the prohibition.