Federal Appeals Judge strikes down Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License requirement

21 November 2023- When New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v Bruen‘s decision came out over a year ago, many inside 2A circles knew that this would just be the first step to get many restrictive gun laws overturned all across the United States. That, again, has come true as US Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, today sided with Maryland Shall Issue in deciding the state’s Handgun Qualification License, or HQL, was illegal.

“It laid out the groundwork for a lot of the legislation, I think, coming down the pike”, said Carl Hill of Hill Top Arms in Waynesboro. “If I was a lawmaker on the other side of things, I would have to take a glance at Bruen and read the decision before I make any opinion at all. Because….it is definitely opening up a reexamination of many of the laws that affect the Second Amendment”, concluded Hill.

In a judgment today, that effect that Bruen had is evident and cited numerous times by Presiding Judge Julius Richardson. What he cites consistently in his opinion is the legality of Maryland’s HQL law based upon “History and Tradition”.

Richardson goes so far as to have a subheading titled “Maryland has not shown that ‘history and tradition’ justify such a restriction”. During this section, Richardson says that the “history and tradition” portion focused in the Bruen decision also applies to this case. That means that the state did not sufficiently prove that the law has a basis in the restriction of firearms and is not a known part of the tradition of Americans owning firearms.

Where does this go from here? The State likely will take this up the chain of US Courts, which would mean the Supreme Court.

“The way it is currently written”, Hill says, “is that it can’t go back down to the District Courts. It would have to go up to the Supreme Court”.

As previously mentioned, the Supreme Court of the United States has clearly shown a letter-to-the-law approach with the Second Amendment concerning the Bruen case. Whether the sitting Justices would be compelled to side with the state on, what many see as, a similar instance of 2A Rights infringements remains to be seen. That may not be the end of Maryland’s 2A legal woes, however.

“We did find it interesting, reading through the documentation”, Hill specified in the interview, “that the Maryland Wear and Carry was referenced”. Hill did question the longevity of Wear and Carry or concealed carry permitting, saying “Now no decision was made on it, but we have to kind of wonder since now we’re starting to see these show up in court documents….that that could be next to be very severely challenged.”

For regular people, this decision will take into effect 21 days from the decision of the court. This would mean Tuesday, December 12th, if no legal action is taken by the State of Maryland, HQL’s will be nullified. If the State challenges this ruling and appeals it to the US Supreme Court, which is likely to happen, the status of HQL’s legality will remain in question. As for Wear and Carry Permits, they remain necessary to carry firearms legally within the state and will remain necessary for the foreseeable future. How long that future may be, however, remains up to the US Court system.

The full decision on this case can be found HERE. Full interview from News Talk 1037FM with Carl Hill can be found below.