Appeals court rules Maryland’s handgun qualification law unconstitutional

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News November 29, 2023

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has ruled that Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License law is unconstitutional.

Under the law, before applicants for a firearm in Maryland can even commence the “normal” licensing process they are required to obtain a Handgun Qualification License.

To do so, an applicant must:

• Submit fingerprints to undergo a background investigation;
• Take a four-hour long “firearms safety training course”;
• Fire at least one live round; and
• Wait up to thirty days for approval before starting the rest of the process.

The Fourth Circuit ruled that this preliminary process for obtaining a handgun is unconstitutional.

In the ruling, the court recognized that the “plain text” of the Second Amendment necessarily protects rights beyond the rights to have and to carry arms.

The court explained:

[T]he Amendment’s text protects only the right to “keep and bear” arms. But, on its face, the challenged law says nothing about whether Plaintiffs may “keep” or “bear” handguns. It only restricts Plaintiffs’ ability to “purchase, rent, or receive” them. How, then, does the law regulate the right to keep and bear arms?

The answer is not complicated. If you do not already own a handgun, then the only way to “keep” or “bear” one is to get one, either through sale, rental, or gift. And the challenged law cuts off all three avenues — at least, for those who do not comply with its terms.

The Fourth Circuit found that Maryland’s Handgun Qualification law constituted an “infringement” under the Second Amendment’s text. The burden then shifted to the government to demonstrate that its licensing requirements were in accord with the historical tradition of firearm regulation.

“Of course, Maryland was unable to identify a similar Founding-era regulation supporting the burdensome 30-day wait period or the Handgun Qualification License,” constitutional attorney and bestselling author Mark W. Smith wrote for Ammoland.

Smith added: “The lack of a relevant historical analogue law is excellent news for other jurisdictions — like New York and New Jersey — that have ridiculously long waiting periods to acquire a firearm. This delay is incompatible with the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, and unlike any type of restriction imposed on other constitutional rights. After all, you don’t need to go through a month-long process to prevent an unwarranted search, preach the Gospel, or make a post about politics on social media.”


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