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Md. lawyers ask federal judge to throw out lawsuit against gun-control law

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BALTIMORE — Lawyers for the state of Maryland asked a federal judge on Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn parts of a sweeping gun-control law, but attorneys leading the challenge contend parts of the law violate Second Amendment rights.

John Parker Sweeney, an attorney representing groups that oppose the law, said lawmakers did not narrowly tailor the law when they banned a variety of assault weapons and reduced the limit on magazine rounds from 20 to 10. Instead, Sweeney said, the state went too far and banned popular firearms that can be used for self-defense.

"These are popular firearms," Sweeney argued before U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake. "They are protected."

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fader said the state took a reasonable approach by focusing on firearms used in military-assault style attacks and mass shootings — not all guns.

"It is a tailored law," Fader said.

Maryland lawmakers approved the sweeping law last year in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut The law, which went into effect last fall, banned 45 assault weapons and limited gun magazines to 10 bullets. It contained a variety of other provisions, including a licensing requirement for handgun purchasers to submit fingerprints to the state police in an effort to reduce the number of guns purchased by a friend or family member for someone who is not allowed to own a gun.

State Sen. Brian Frosh, a Montgomery County Democrat who led the debate for the legislation in the Senate last year, said he didn't believe the law violated Second Amendment rights.

"I would have liked a stronger assault weapons ban than the one we ultimately passed, but what we did was reasonable," Frosh said outside the federal courthouse in Baltimore.

In October, when the law took effect, Blake refused to block the law's implementation. She cited the late date of the court challenge, which came just two business days before the law was set to take effect Oct. 1, as an indication the law posed no imminent threat to core Second Amendment rights.

Blake said Tuesday she would issue a written ruling as soon as possible.

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