A Win for Freedom in Maryland

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posted on November 29, 2023
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Thad Zajdowicz courtesy Flickr

Maryland’s Draconian requirements for purchasing a handgun were recently deemed unconstitutional in yet another post-Bruen win for the Second Amendment.

A three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 that Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License (HQL) requirement is in direct violation of the Second Amendment.

“Maryland’s law fails the new Bruen test,” wrote Judge Julius N. Richardson in the decision. “As we will explain, Plaintiffs have shown that Maryland’s handgun-licensure law regulates a course of conduct protected by the Second Amendment, and Maryland has not established that the law is consistent with our Nation’s historical tradition.”

“This is a significant ruling for the Second Amendment and every American who cherishes our constitutional freedoms,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action (ILA).

The previous process for acquiring a handgun in Maryland required a resident to first obtain a license.  To do so, applicants were forced to take a four-hour class with classroom and live-fire components at the cost of hundreds of dollars. They also had to undergo a background check that included submitting fingerprints, paid for by the resident, and had to wait up to 30 days for the application to be processed.

Once all this is completed, an individual must still then undergo an additional background check, and another seven-business-day waiting period when acquiring a handgun. A final background check via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) must be completed when the firearm is transferred.

“If you live in Maryland and you want a handgun, you must follow a long and winding path to get one,” wrote Richardson. “The challenged law restricts the ability of law-abiding adult citizens to possess handguns, and the state has not presented a historical analogue that justifies its restriction; indeed, it has seemingly admitted that it couldn’t find one.”

This result is another example of the impact that the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen is having throughout the nation.

“The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision to overturn Maryland's restrictive gun license law sends a clear message: law-abiding Marylanders’ fundamental right to self-defense must not be infringed. This victory is a tribute to the relentless spirit of NRA members, whose staunch advocacy and support are the backbone of our success,” said Kozuch.

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