WASHINGTON – The president of the National Rifle Association says his organization “absolutely” will go to court to fight gun control restrictions recently passed by the Maryland General Assembly.
“Much of it’s foolish, some of it’s unconstitutional and other portions of it simply put burdens on honest citizens who have every right under the Second Amendment to own and use firearms for legitimate purposes,” David Keene tells WTOP.
Keene says the Maryland measure specifically targets semi-automatic weapons made by Bushmaster, a major supplier of AR-15-type rifles, and runs afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Heller v. District of Columbia — a 2008 decision dealing with gun laws in the nation’s capital.
The court “said that one kind of firearm that cannot be banned is one that’s commonly owned and widely used for legitimate purposes,” Keene says. “The AR-15 … is the best-selling rifle in America — has been for some years. It’s the most-used gun for longarm training, it’s the most-used firearm in competition and it’s used for home defense and hunting.
“It’s almost as if the court said, ‘You know, somebody’s going to come up with this idea again, and we ought to just give them some warning.'”
The measure passed by the state Senate last week makes Maryland’s gun laws among the strictest in the nation. Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who proposed the legislation, is expected to sign the restrictions into law this week.
The measure would require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police and limits gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also bans 45 types of assault weapons, although people who own them now will be able to keep them.
On WTOP, Keene said criminals get guns on the street and don’t “go to Wal-Mart” to buy an AR-15, and that the semi-automatic weapons targeted by lawmakers are very rarely used in crime in the United States.
“In terms of reducing crime and mayhem, targeting these firearms doesn’t make any empirical sense,” Keene says. “What it is is feel-good legislation.”
When asked whether the NRA plans to challenge provisions it considers unconstitutional in the Maryland legislation, Keene was unequivocal.
“Absolutely. We are already in court in New York and we will be in court and aiding those in Maryland — and I’m myself a Maryland resident — who want to challenge the constitutionality of this and other provisions here in Maryland,” he says.
Hear Keene’s full interview above and to the right, and click here to hear an interview with Monte Frank, a gun control advocate and organizer of the Sandy Hook Ride on Washington.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.