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SILVER SPRING, Md. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld Maryland’s ban on bump stocks and other devices that make guns fire faster, a state law that preceded a nationwide ban. Both bans responded to the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

A divided three-judge panel from the 4th U.

S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by gun owners’ rights advocates that Maryland’s law violates the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition on taking private property for public use without just compensation.

Maryland’s ban on private ownership of bump stocks and other “rapid fire trigger activators” took effect in October 2018, one year after a gunman opened fire on the crowd at a Las Vegas concert from a high-rise hotel suite, killing 58 people.

The gunman, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, had equipped several semiautomatic guns with bump stocks so they could fire at a rate approaching a fully automatic machine gun.

A nationwide ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks took effect in 2019. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives outlawed the attachments at President Donald Trump’s direction after the Las Vegas mass shooting. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to put the federal ban on hold.

A group called Maryland Shall Issue and four of its members filed a class action in June 2018, naming Gov. Larry Hogan as the defendant. Hogan, a Republican, signed the state ban into law.

In the 4th Circuit’s majority opinion, Judge Stephanie Thacker said Maryland’s ban does not require bump stock owners to turn them over to the government or a third party. Property owners know that laws can make their personal belongings worthless in areas where the government has a “traditionally high degree of control,” Thacker said.

“We can think of few types of personal property that are more heavily regulated than the types of devices that are prohibited by (the law),” she wrote.

Judge Julius Richardson, who partially dissented from the majority opinion, concluded that Maryland’s law violates the Fifth Amendment’s “takings clause.” Richardson said the court should have revived the plaintiffs’ claims under that clause.

“Surely, the government must compensate owners for their personal property if it physically dispossesses owners,” he wrote. “But Maryland instead requires owners to physically dispossess themselves—or face imprisonment.”

Richardson also rejected Maryland’s argument that the federal ban on bump stocks means the outcome of the appeal is moot. The state ban “applies more broadly than its federal counterpart” and bans at least one device that is excluded from the federal ban, he wrote.

Maryland Shall Issue executive director Mark Pennak said the plaintiffs likely will ask the full 4th Circuit to review the case.

“We do not challenge the right of the state to ban these (bumps stocks) prospectively for new owners,” he said Monday. “What we challenge is the right of the state to refuse to pay people whose own personal property is being taken because (the law) requires them to be destroyed.”

In November 2018, U.S. District Judge James Bredar ruled that the law “falls well within Maryland’s traditional police power to define and ban ultra-hazardous contraband.” The judge said the plaintiffs made a “circular argument leading to absurd results” in suggesting that states can pass and enforce contraband laws only with respect to items that already were defined as contraband.

“Under such an approach, public safety regulations would be permanently frozen in the past, and states would be inhibited from addressing new threats to the public, no matter how grave,” he wrote.

Bump stocks and similar devices were widely available and largely unregulated before the Las Vegas shooting. Now anyone in possession of a bump stock can be charged with a federal offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. A violation of Maryland’s ban is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Associated Press reporter Lisa Marie Pane in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

(© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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NHL, players announce labor deal, plan to resume play Aug. 1

Hospitals have long been judged on quality of care. These new rankings grade their commitment to community, too. How a coin shortage is impacting Mich. retailers and grocery stores NHL, players announce labor deal, plan to resume play Aug. 1 © APWF FILE - In this Dec. 12, 2019, file photo, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with members of the media before being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Washington. The uncertainty raised by coronavirus pandemic leads to experts providing a bleak short-term assessment on the NHL's financial bottom line, with some projecting revenues being cut by almost half. What's unclear is how large the impact might be until it can be determined when fans can resume attending games and if the league is able to complete this season. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

The NHL is in position to resume playing in less than a month - with 24 teams in action, all in Canada - and could be on the verge of enjoying labor peace through 2026.

The National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association on Monday announced a tentative deal on a return-to-play format and a memorandum of understanding on a four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement.

Should both agreements be ratified, the NHL would proceed immediately to its expanded 24-team playoff format, with play beginning on Aug. 1. Under the plan, training camps would open July 13, with teams traveling to their respective hub cities for exhibition games on July 26.

The hub cities are Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, for the qualifying round and at least first two playoff rounds, according to a person with direct knowledge of the agreements who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the league and NHLPA have not released this information.

For the conference finals and the Stanley Cup Final, the person said, the league is being cautious and allowing itself site flexibility in the event of potential spikes in COVID-19 infections.

Extending the CBA, which was set to expire in September 2022, was considered a necessary step in restarting the season, which was placed on pause in March as a result of the pandemic. The extension covers numerous on- and off-ice issues, including the NHL's potential return to the Olympics, the person said.

If approved, players would be in a position to compete at the Beijing Olympics in 2022 and in Italy four years later. In order for that to happen, the NHL would first have to resolve marketing rights and health insurance, among otehr issues, with the International Olympic Committee and International Ice Hockey Federation.

The NHL, NHLPA and IIHF had what were called productive talks earlier this year. The NHL participated in five consecutive Olympics from 1998-2014 before skipping 2018 in South Korea.

Financially, the CBA extension would attempt to address the lost revenue stemming from the remainder of the regular season being wiped out and with empty arenas looming for the playoffs.

Players would defer 10% of salaries next season which owners would pay back over three consecutive seasons starting in 2022-23, a second person familiar with the proposed agreement told The AP. The salary cap will remain at $81.5 million for at least next season, the person said, also speaking only on the condition of anonymity because the details have not been released.

Escrow payments to owners to even out hockey-related revenue at 50/50 would be capped at 20% next season, with the cap decreasing throughout the deal, the second person said. If owners are still owed money from the players, the CBA would be extended for an additional season. Escrow has been one of the biggest complaints of players in the past several years.

The agreements need two-thirds approval by owners.

On the union side, the agreements must first be approved by a majority of the NHLPA's 31-member executive committee before going to a vote to the full membership. The executive committee is expected to make its recommendation by the end of day Tuesday; if approved, the players would be expected to complete their voting process by Friday.

Over the weekend, the league and players agreed to an extensive series of return-to-play protocols involving training camp and games. Players will be allowed to opt out of competing in the expanded playoffs, and will have three days to make their decision once the agreement is ratified.

Should the league push ahead, the matchups are already known: The top four teams in each conference (Boston, Tampa Bay, Washington and Philadelphia in the East and St. Louis, Colorado, Vegas and Dallas in the West) play a handful of round-robin games to determine seeding.

Those top seeds then face the winners of eight opening-round, best-of-five series: No. 5 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 12 Montreal Canadiens; No. 6 Carolina Hurricanes vs. No. 11 New York Rangers; No. 7 New York Islanders vs. No. 10 Florida Panthers; No. 8 Toronto Maple Leafs vs. No. 9 Columbus Blue Jackets; No. 5 Edmonton Oilers vs. No. 12 Chicago Blackhawks; No. 6 Nashville Predators vs. No. 11 Arizona Coyotes; No. 7 Vancouver Canucks vs. No. 10 Minnesota Wild; and the No. 8 Calgary Flames vs. No. 9 Winnipeg Jets.


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