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U.S. judge rejects bids to halt enforcement of Maryland gun law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A federal judge rejected on Tuesday bids by gun rights supporters to halt enforcement of Maryland's new gun law, which bans the sale of 45 types of assault weapons and requires handgun buyers to undergo safety training and fingerprinting.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake turned aside the request from gun owners, retailers and gun owners rights groups to halt enforcement of the law through temporary restraining orders, according to court filings.

While Blake's ruling heads off any immediate action, it does allow the groups' two lawsuits seeking to block the law to go ahead. The law took effect on Tuesday.

The prohibition includes all models of the AR-15, the type of rifle used in the Newtown attack, by accused Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes, and by Washington's "Beltway sniper" in 2002.

The plaintiffs contend the law, one of the toughest in the United States, violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. Defendants named in the suits include Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley and the Maryland State Police.

The Maryland law, prompted by the December 2012 school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, requires handgun buyers to undergo safety training and submit fingerprints to obtain a license. The law also limits the number of bullets a magazine can hold to 10 rounds.

O'Malley signed the bill into law in May even as opponents, including the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobby, vowed to overturn it.

Colorado voters last month ousted two Democratic state lawmakers over their support for tough gun laws, a major win for gun rights supporters.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Diane Craft)

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