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Debate over Maryland's handgun license requirement continues

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Posted at 1:44 PM, Nov 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-05 21:35:51-05

Update:
On December 5, 2023 Attorney General Anthony Brown filed a petition for a rehearing on this case.

On November 21, 2023, a divided three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that Maryland’s law violated the Second Amendment. Attorney General Brown is asking for a rehearing of the case en banc, which means the case would be heard again before the full 15-judge appellate court.

“The Second Amendment does not prohibit states from enacting common-sense gun laws like Maryland’s handgun licensing law,” said Attorney General Brown. “My office will continue to defend laws that are designed to protect Marylanders from gun violence.”

Original Story

On Tuesday, the US 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Maryland's law requiring a handgun qualification license to purchase a handgun.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) claimed victory in a statement.

"This is a significant ruling for the Second Amendment and every American who cherishes our constitutional freedoms. 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. Together, we will continue to champion the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Maryland and across America and safeguard our cherished liberties against any infringement."
-NRA

The judge who wrote the opinion in this case said "plaintiffs' challenge must succeed. 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."

Maryland Shall Issue did clarify that this doesn't change other Maryland laws such as the requirement for a background check for purchases and a waiting period for purchase.

The Governor on Tuesday released the following statement:

“I am disappointed in the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision. This law is not about stripping away rights from responsible gun owners – it’s about every Marylander having the right to live free from fear.

Common-sense gun laws are critical to protecting all Marylanders from the gun violence that has terrorized our communities. I am determined to do more than just give thoughts and prayers and attend funerals – and that’s why this law is vital to our administration's commitment to keeping guns out of the wrong hands and saving lives.

Every Marylander has the right to feel safe in their own neighborhood – and I will continue to fight for this law. Our administration is currently looking at all options and reviewing the ruling.”
-Governor Wes Moore

Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott also released a statement on the ruling on social media on Tuesday.

The Maryland State Police on Wednesday issued the following statement.

"On November 21, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rendered a decision in a case questioning the constitutionality of the Handgun Qualification License (HQL) codified in Md. Public Safety Article, 5-117.1. The Fourth Circuit Court’s opinion is that the HQL law is unconstitutional.

At this time, the HQL law remains in effect and there are no immediate changes in the process to purchase a firearm in Maryland. The opinion of the Fourth Circuit does not become effective until the court issues a mandate.

The Maryland State Police will issue updates on the Maryland State Police Licensing Division website and via Advisories as soon as further information becomes available"
-Maryland State Police, November 22, 2023