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U.S. judge upholds Maryland ban on assault weapons

ANNAPOLIS Md. (Reuters) - A federal judge on Tuesday upheld Maryland's gun control law, which includes a ban on assault rifles and a limit on magazine size, according to court documents.

The Firearm Safety Act of 2013 is one of the strictest legislative packages for gun control. The law was a response to the December 2012 massacre of 26 people at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, by a gunman with an assault rifle.

"I find the law constitutional," U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake said in her ruling.

Lawyers for gun groups had argued that the state's ban on semiautomatic weapons, which also limits magazine capacity to 10 rounds, was unconstitutional and deprived gun owners of their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The group sued the state, naming Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley as a defendant. The law went into effect in October.

The law makes it illegal to manufacture, possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive any type of assault firearm. Punishment for breaking that law can be three years in jail and up to a $5,000 fine.

(Reporting by John Clarke; Editing by Eric Beech)

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