On Thursday, a three-judge panel vacated a ruling by a Maryland district court that had upheld the state’s ban on so-called “assault weapons” and large-capacity magazines (holding more than 10 rounds).

In Kolbe v. Hogan, the panel (in a 2-1 decision) sent the case back to the district court, holding that the district court judge had used the wrong standard to review the law. The district court had rejected the plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claims, concluding that the Maryland restrictions passed constitutional muster under “intermediate scrutiny” review.

However, the Fourth Circuit, in a decision written by Chief Judge William B. Traxler, a Clinton appointee, held that the Maryland law “implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment—‘the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.’” Traxler wrote that the court was “compelled” by the Supreme Court’s two major prior cases on the Second Amendment, District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), and McDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), “as well as our own precedent in the wake of these decisions, to conclude that the burden is substantial and strict scrutiny is the applicable standard of review.” The Heller and McDonald cases had knocked out the virtual ban on guns imposed by the cities of Washington and Chicago, respectively.

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