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Federal Judge Upholds Maryland Handgun Licensing Scheme


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On Thursday, a federal judge upheld a Maryland law requiring anyone seeking to obtain a handgun to first acquire a Handgun Qualification License. This process requires Marylanders to do far more than pass a background check: before exercising their Constitutional right to self-defense, applicants must first pay potentially hundreds of dollars in fees, overcome all sorts of red tape, attend mandatory training, all while waiting up to 30 days. This is on top of another seven-business-day waiting period and background check when acquiring a handgun, and the NICS check that must be completed when the firearm is transferred. 

This decision follows the previous dismissal and reinstatement of the case by the Fourth Circuit. Gun owners should note the court’s admission that “[Maryland’s handgun requirements], undoubtedly burden this core Second Amendment right…and ‘make it considerably more difficult for a person lawfully to acquire and keep a firearm.’” Despite these difficult burdens and “‘conflicting views’” of the data used to justify this law, the court applied a weak version of intermediate scrutiny to uphold the law.

This decision came in the shadow of the pending Supreme Court decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen, which will be argued on November 3rd. This NRA-ILA-backed case challenges New York’s restrictive concealed-carry-licensing regime, and will give the Supreme Court the opportunity to affirm the individual right to bear arms outside of the home and, hopefully, to provide clarity to the lower courts how to address Second Amendment challenges moving forward.

While this decision is frustrating, NRA-ILA remains dedicated to protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens everywhere. NRA-ILA will examine this decision in the days to come and will determine the best method to pursue that goal.

The case is captioned Maryland Shall Issue v. Hogan.

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