Great Fourth Circuit decision in Kolbe case
Opinion, in pdf, here. It's a challenge to Maryland gun laws mostly directed at "assault weapons."
The court finds that AWs are in common use: "we note that in 2012, the number of AR- and AK-style weapons manufactured and imported into the United States was more than double the number of Ford F-150 trucks sold, the most commonly sold vehicle in the United States." It rejects the argument that magazines are not "arms." It also rejects claims that "dangerous and unusual weapons" describe AWs, asking where the line could be drawn.
It then holds that strict scrutiny (hurrah!) applies, since the ban applies in the home and the law substantially burdens that right, and remands to the lower court so that it can assess the law in that light.
The majority does reject the Equal Protection challenge to the law's exempting retired law enforcement officers; Judges Traxler and Agee dissent from this, feeling that it does pose an EP problem.
Parts 5 and 6 were authored by Judge Traxler, and hold that the ban on "copies" of the listed firearms was not void for vagueness.
Judge King dissents, and it can be summed up in one quote: "Let's be real: The assault weapons banned by Maryland's FSA are exceptionally lethal weapons of war. In fact, the most popular of the prohibited semiautomatic rifles, the AR-15, functions almost identically to the military's fully automatic M16."
(The majority's response to his dissent is worth quoting: "Our distinguished dissenting colleague asserts that we have imprudently and unnecessarily broken with our sister courts of appeal and infers that we will bear some responsibility for future mass shootings. In our view, inferences of this nature have no place in judicial opinions and we will not respond beyond noting this."
UPDATE: a dissent in a panel opinion can have several functions. (1) In the event that there's a move to reconsider en banc, or a petition for cert, the fact that it was a divided opinion with strong dissent is something that other judges might weigh in considering whether to grant en banc or to take cert. (2) If another court is considering relying on the decision, it puts the judges of that court on notice that there was another side to the issue.