Appeals Court Rules Against State, Labels License Requirement Unconstitutional

Appeals Court Rules Against State, Labels License Requirement Unconstitutional

( – The Fourth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals has ruled that Maryland’s recent requirement for firearms licenses is unconstitutional.

The requirement mandated that residents of Maryland must go through a series of steps to specifically buy a license to be able to purchase handguns on top of existing firearm restrictions. That process includes fingerprinting, classes, and waiting a month for approval.

The law passed in 2013 under Democrat Governor Martin O’Malley. It was passed less than a year after the Sandy Hook school shooting occurred. Some considered that incident as motivation for Maryland’s handgun law even though the Sandy Hooter shooter used a rifle.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in a 2-1 decision. Judges G. Steven Agee and Julius N. Richardson, both Republican appointees, called the law unconstitutional and accused the legislation of being unnecessarily restrictive. They also accused the state government of failing to provide sufficient evidence for the law’s necessity.

Judge Barbara Milano Keenan, who was appointed to the Fourth Circuit by then-president Barack Obama, voted in support of the legislation. She accused her colleagues of misapplying the Bruen scrutiny, a standard used to test the constitutionality of state-level laws. She also claimed her colleagues have a “hyperaggressive” view of the Second Amendment.

Maryland’s state government can still appeal the decision to the Fourth Court or even to the Supreme Court of the United States. The state has not yet announced whether it will pursue an appeal.

The law was challenged after local gun store owners joined two residents of the state and gun rights groups in a lawsuit to have the law repealed. Gun rights group Maryland Shall Issue originally challenged the law in 2016. However, their lawsuit was rejected by a lower judge multiple times. However, the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to strike down restrictive gun control measures in New York set a new precedent to also end Maryland’s law.

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