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Federal Court Finds Maryland Handgun License Law Unconstitutional

A federal appeals court struck down Maryland’s handgun licensure law Tuesday as a violation of the Second Amendment.

Maryland law requires individuals seeking a handgun to first secure a “handgun qualification license,” which entails taking a four-hour firearm safety class, completing a background investigation and waiting up to 30 days. The Fourth Circuit found that this law is not “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” which is the standard the Supreme Court set out in its recent New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen ruling.

“In Maryland, if you are a law-abiding person who wants a handgun, you must wait up to thirty days for the state to give you its blessing,” Judge Julius Richardson, a Trump appointee, wrote in the majority opinion. “Until then, there is nothing you can do; the issue is out of your control. Maryland has not shown that this regime is consistent with our Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.”

Richardson wrote that Maryland’s requirement does not fall into the same category as laws prohibiting dangerous people from obtaining weapons because it does not identify a specific group to restrict from owning firearms.

“Instead, it prohibits all people from acquiring handguns until they can prove that they are not dangerous,” he wrote. “So Maryland’s law burdens all people—even if only temporarily— rather than just a class of people whom the state has already deemed presumptively dangerous.”

Senior Judge Barbara Milano Keenan, an Obama appointee, wrote in the dissent that “the majority’s hyperaggressive view of the Second Amendment would render presumptively unconstitutional most non-discretionary laws in this country requiring a permit to purchase a handgun.”

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