Court strikes down Maryland gun control law

 November 25, 2023

Maryland's handgun licensing law has been struck down. 

The Associated Press reports that the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck the law down on Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023.

The court's three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 against the law.

Significantly, the judges used the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen to strike Maryland's law down. It is far from the only gun control law that has recently been defeated by Bruen. 


In 2013, following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Maryland passed a law requiring residents to obtain a special license before being able to purchase a handgun.

According to ABC News, the license required gun purchase to complete "four hours of safety training that includes firing one live round," to submit fingerprints, to pass a background check, to be 21, and to reside in Maryland.

The law was legally challenged in 2016 as a violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Reuters reports, "A gun rights group called Maryland Shall Issue sued in 2016 along with two individuals and a gun store, arguing that the restrictions violated the Second Amendment. But a lower court judge twice rejected their claims, prompting the appeal."

This is how the case made it to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The ruling

As stated at the outset, the Fourth Circuit has struck down Maryland's law using Bruen. In Bruen, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gun laws have to abide by the country's "historical tradition of firearm regulation." The Fourth Circuit found that Maryland's law does not.

Judge Julius Richardson wrote:

If you live in Maryland and you want a handgun, you must follow a long and winding path to get one. 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.

The lone dissenter - Judge Barabara Milano Keenan, an appointee of former President Barack Obama - argued that the majority misapplied the Supreme Court's ruling in Bruen. Keenan argued that the majority reasoning "would render presumptively unconstitutional most non-discretionary laws in this country requiring a permit to purchase a handgun."

The court's decision is being viewed as another victory for the Second Amendment.

NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch put out a statement, writing:

This is a significant ruling for the Second Amendment and every American who cherishes our constitutional freedoms. 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.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.