On Tuesday, the 4th Circuit United States Court of Appeals upheld Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban in Kolbe v. Hogan, arguing that AR-15s look enough like weapons of war to be treated as such. The court ruled that there are only insignificant differences in AR-15s and M-16s, which are actual battlefield weapons, describing AR-15s as “exceptionally lethal weapons of war.”
However, the court did not consider the major factor that separates the two styles of guns from one another. The M-16 is a fully automatic firearm that shoots continuously when the trigger is pulled and the AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle that only fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled.
The 4th Circuit ruled that “military-style” guns are used in an unbalanced portion of the mass killings in the U.S. and are outside the protection of the Second Amendment for the reason that they are most suited for military use. The problem with that is AR-15s are not used in a most mass public attacks in the U.S.
In the most recent public attack on January 6, 2017, at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, a handgun was used. In the Burlington Mall attack in September 2016, a .22 rifle was used. In the September 2016 NY bombing, a Glock was used. In the Orlando attack in June 2016, an AR-15 rifle was used. This is just a few examples of the most recent attacks. Out of the last 20 attacks, AR-15-style rifles were used only five times. In fact, handguns are often seen as more dangerous since they are easier to conceal.
It is thought-provoking to consider that the 4th Circuit’s ruling is delivered at a time when ATF Associate Deputy Director Ronald Turk is arguing against ongoing importation bans on “assault weapons.” Turk says these guns are well liked for sport shooting and are typically used in hunting. The 4th Circuit doesn’t agree, calling these guns “exceptionally lethal weapons of war.”