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NRA Celebrates As Court Declares Maryland Handgun License Requirement Unconstitutional

On Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, deemed Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License (HQL) requirement unconstitutional. This ruling aligns with the 2022 Supreme Court case that reshaped judicial perspectives on gun rights. The National Rifle Association (NRA) hailed the decision as a major triumph for Second Amendment freedoms, criticizing Maryland’s HQL as excessively burdensome and infringing on citizens’ rights.

The court’s majority opinion, penned by Judge Julius Richardson, highlighted the complex and lengthy process to obtain a handgun in Maryland. This process includes a mandatory handgun qualification license, entailing a background check, fingerprint submission, and a four-hour firearms safety course. This preliminary step precedes the general 77R registration process for firearms acquisition in Maryland.

Judge Richardson argued that the law unfairly restricted law-abiding citizens’ ability to possess handguns, lacking historical precedent to justify such restrictions. The decision was grounded in the Supreme Court’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case, which demands that gun regulations be consistent with historical firearm regulation traditions.

Critics of the ruling, like William Taylor from Everytown Law, view the decision as a temporary setback, confident that either the full Fourth Circuit or the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold Maryland’s gun safety law.

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