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21 states push court to overturn Maryland gun control law; contend limits are too broad

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HAGERSTOWN, Maryland — Twenty-one states have asked a federal appeals court to overturn Maryland's tough gun-control law, contending that its provisions banning 45 assault weapons and limiting gun magazines to 10 rounds violate the Second Amendment right to keep firearms at home for self-protection.

A coalition led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed the friend-of-the-court brief last week in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia. The document supports an appeal by groups whose challenge to the law was rejected in August by the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Morrisey, a Republican, said in a statement that the Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013, if upheld by the courts, would undermine a core part of the Second Amendment by banning popular firearms that can be used for self-defense.

"States must band together at times when they see citizens' rights being diminished or infringed upon," he said.

A spokeswoman for Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley criticized the action Monday.

"A federal judge has already affirmed the constitutionality of this law," Nina Smith wrote in an email. "This effort by other states won't do anything to reduce violent crime or save lives."

David Paulson, spokesman for the Maryland attorney general's office, declined to comment on the pending litigation, citing an agency policy. The state has until Dec. 31 to file its written response.

The other states involved are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. The group includes 18 Republicans and 3 Democrats.

Maryland's Republican Gov.-elect, Larry Hogan, has said he would uphold the laws of both Maryland and the United States, including the Second Amendment.

Maryland lawmakers passed the legislation in response to the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.


Previous versions of this story incorrectly stated Morrisey's political affiliation. He is a Republican.

A headline on previous versions of this story incorrectly stated the appellate court had called the restrictions too broad. The states contend the restrictions are too broad.

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