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Hearing Tuesday on Md. gun control challenge

Saturday - 9/28/2013, 4:26am  ET

Maryland's new gun law: It's not even in effect yet but already headed to court

WTOP's Kate Ryan


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The U.S. District Court in Baltimore has ordered a hearing Tuesday on a challenge to Maryland's new gun-control law.

The hearing on a motion to block implementation of the law comes the same day it is scheduled to take effect.

Opponents filed the federal lawsuit Thursday. They say the law was passed earlier this year in "flagrant disregard" of the gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Earlier this year, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a 25-page legal review expressing confidence that the law was constitutional and legally defensible

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Opponents of a new Maryland gun-control measure that gives the state some of the nation's tightest gun laws have filed a lawsuit to block the legislation from taking effect.

The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Maryland says the new law was passed in "flagrant disregard" of the gun rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

The lawsuit was filed by a number of people, including two retired veterans who are Maryland residents, gun stores, the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association and the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association. It seeks to stop the law from taking effect on Tuesday and, ultimately, to have the court permanently bar Maryland from implementing the law.

Earlier this year, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler released a 25-page legal review expressing confidence the law is constitutional and legally defensible. However, opponents, including the National Rifle Association, announced when the law was signed in May that they would challenge the law in court.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Martin O'Malley expressed confidence Friday that the law would survive the challenge.

"The vast majority of Marylanders support these common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence. The new law will take effect on Tuesday and it will make families safer," spokeswoman Samantha Kappalman said.

Gansler spokesman Alan Brody said the state hadn't been formally served with the complaint and declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Plaintiffs' attorney John Parker Sweeney said the court would likely schedule a hearing as early as Monday on his motion for an order temporarily blocking implementation while the court considers whether to permanently bar Maryland from enforcing the law.

Sweeney and co-counsel T. Sky Woodward wrote in their 34-page filing that the law restricts "the ability of law-abiding, responsible citizens" of Maryland "to defend themselves, their families, and their homes by prohibiting outright certain commonly used rifles and shotguns and standard capacity ammunition magazines."

Part of the law signed by Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley requires people to submit fingerprints to the state police to get a license to buy a handgun. In addition, the law adds 45 guns to a list of banned assault weapons and limits handgun magazines to 10 rounds. O'Malley, a Democrat, proposed the bill in response to the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.

The lawsuit prominently cites the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 decision involving gun rights, District of Columbia v. Heller. The court announced in that case that the Constitution protects an individual's right to possess guns, at least for self-defense in the home. But it left open the question of how broadly the Second Amendment protects gun rights in other settings.

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