Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Strikes Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License Requirement in NRA-Backed Case.

Gun Rights

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals ruled that Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License (“HQL”) requirement is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. 

Acquiring a handgun in Maryland is a draconian process. Before one can exercise their Second Amendment right to own a handgun, they must first get an HQL. Obtaining an HQL requires taking a four-hour class with classroom and live-fire components, which costs several hundred dollars, undergoing a background check that includes submitting a complete set of fingerprints, which the individual must pay for, and then waiting up to 30 days for the state to process the application. But obtaining that license does not allow one to purchase a firearm. The individual must undergo an additional background check and another seven-business-day waiting period when acquiring a handgun, and then a NICS check must be completed when the firearm is transferred.

NRA challenged this law back in 2016. The case was originally dismissed, and then reinstated by the Fourth Circuit. Despite the Fourth Circuit’s reinstatement of the case, the trial court still upheld the HQL requirement on remand. NRA appealed again, and today the court unequivocally held that the law couldn’t pass muster under the Second Amendment: “The challenged law restricts the ability of law-abiding adult citizens to possess handguns, and the state has not presented a historical analogue that justifies its restriction; indeed, it has seemingly admitted that it couldn’t find one.”

“This is a significant ruling for the Second Amendment and every American who cherishes our constitutional freedoms,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch. “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. This victory is a tribute to the relentless spirit of NRA members, whose staunch advocacy and support are the backbone of our success. Together, we will continue to champion the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Maryland and across America and safeguard our cherished liberties against any infringement.”

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The case is captioned Maryland Shall Issue v. Moore.

Please stay tuned to for future updates on NRA-ILA’s ongoing efforts to defend your constitutional rights.

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