Friday, December 1, 2023

Maryland State Police Persist in Upholding Law Deemed Unconstitutional


Despite a recent ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declaring Maryland's Handgun Qualification License (HQL) law unconstitutional, the Maryland State Police have issued a directive to continue enforcing the law. The ruling came from a panel of three judges who scrutinized the HQL law, which mandates training, an application, a background check, and a fee for handgun purchasers.

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The case, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc. v. Wes Moore, challenged the HQL requirements, arguing that they violated the United States Constitution. This claim gained more ground following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in NYPRA v. Bruen, where Associate Justice Clarence Thomas emphasized that firearm laws must align with the Second Amendment's text, tradition, and history. The government failed to present historical examples from the founding era that resembled Maryland's current HQL law.

The Fourth Circuit Court's decision highlighted the lack of historical precedent for such preemptive measures in firearm regulation. The court's opinion stated that Maryland's law, which delays handgun ownership for up to thirty days until state approval, does not align with the nation's traditional approach to firearm regulation. The ruling overturned the district court's previous decision.

However, the Maryland State Police's memo, issued on the same day as the court's opinion (November 21, 2023), clarified that the HQL law remains in force. The enforcement will continue until the court issues an official mandate, which, although expected, has not yet been released.

Maryland is anticipated to request an en banc hearing from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. If granted, the entire bench of judges will reevaluate the case, potentially leading to the vacating of the current decision until the case is fully reviewed.

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