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Maryland Gun Control Law Debated In Federal Court

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The debate over Maryland's newest gun law moves to federal court. A US judge in Baltimore heard arguments Tuesday calling the state's ban on the sale of assault rifles unconstitutional.

Derek Valcourt has more on the effort to have the judge throw out parts of the law.

Gun rights advocates couldn't stop the General Assembly from passing the Firearms Safety Act. They failed to get enough signatures to overturn it by voter referendum and now they're asking the courts to stop it.

The Sandy Hook School Massacre propelled Maryland lawmakers to ban the purchase of 45 different types of assault weapons and put a 10 round limit on magazines, all over the vocal objections of gun rights advocates. Those advocates took their legal beef with the law to federal court Tuesday, arguing that limiting access to certain rifles and large capacity magazines infringes on second amendment rights and does not help prevent crime.

Attorneys arguing the case declined to speak to reporters but their supporters say the law unfairly prevents the use of certain weapons for sporting or hunting.

"We're NRA members and we just believe we should have the right to keep and bear arms and they're trying to restrict," said Richard Brulinski.

State Senator and Attorney General candidate Brian Frosh helped author the new gun law and says the state does have a right to limit certain weapons in the interest of public safety.

"I'm sorry, but when you balance the results of Newtown against the right to use them for target practice, I think saving the lives of kids and teachers comes out a lot higher on most people's lists of what's important for society," Frosh said.

Gun control advocates are already touting partial victory because the lawsuit does not challenge the fingerprint licensing of new handgun purchasers that also went into effect in October.

"We believe that's partly responsible for a 25% drop in gun deaths in Maryland over the first six months of this year compared to last year," said Vincent DeMarco, Marylanders To Prevent Gun Violence.

It could be weeks or months before the judge's ruling will be released. It will also certainly be appealed, perhaps all the way to the Supreme Court.

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