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On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed a previous ruling which protected semiautomatic rifles from regulation – a serious blow for gun advocates who believe the Second Amendment protects such weapons from regulation.

The previous ruling came after Maryland passed a law in 2013, banning all semiautomatic rifles, including AR-15s and AK-47s. It also banned any form of copy of those firearms and large-capacity magazines.

As expected, gun advocates sued, pointing out the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to bear arms. Their claims were originally rejected by a district court, but the 4th Circuit later reversed that rejection. The Maryland law was ruled an infringement on gun owners’ Second Amendment rights.

The court then voted to rehear the case, which lead to Tuesday’s decision, and the demise of a ruling that protected our Second Amendment rights.

National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said, “It is absurd to hold that the most popular rifle in America is not a protected `arm’ under the Second Amendment.” She added that the majority opinion “clearly ignores the Supreme Court’s guidance from District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment protects arms that are `in common use at the time for lawful purposes like self-defense.”‘

The NRA has estimated there are anywhere between 5 million to 10 million AR-15s in circulation in the U.S. all used for lawful purposes.

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