The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled today that Maryland’s preliminary handgun-licensure requirement is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced, a victory for gun rights advocates in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision last year.
In a published opinion, the 4th Circuit found that Maryland’s law, challenged by gun rights group Maryland Shall Issue, restricts the ability of law-abiding adult citizens to possess handguns. Though Maryland’s law does not prohibit the group from owning handguns at some time in the future, according to the opinion, the law prohibits them from immediately owning handguns.
The 4th Circuit concluded Maryland’s law fails the Bruen test, finding that Maryland has failed to establish that its law is consistent with the U.S.’s “historical tradition,” as Bruen requires. Under Bruen, a regulation is unconstitutional unless the government can show that “the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” the opinion notes.
“This is a significant ruling for the Second Amendment and every American who cherishes our constitutional freedoms,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director for the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action. The Fourth Circuit Court’s decision to overturn Maryland’s restrictive gun license law sends a clear message: law-abiding Marylanders fundamental right to self defense must not be infringed.”
Gov. Wes Moore denounced the ruling and said the state was weighing whether to appeal.
“I am disappointed in the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision,” Moore said in a statement. “This law is not about stripping away rights from responsible gun owners – it’s about every Marylander having the right to live free from fear. Common-sense gun laws are critical to protecting all Marylanders from the gun violence that has terrorized our communities. I am determined to do more than just give thoughts and prayers and attend funerals – and that’s why this law is vital to our administration’s commitment to keeping guns out of the wrong hands and saving lives.”
(This story will be updated.)