Maryland State Police Will Continue to Enforce ‘Unconstitutional’ Gun Law

Gov. Wes Moore’s administration is looking at all legal options to fight a federal court’s recent ruling.
Maryland State Police Will Continue to Enforce ‘Unconstitutional’ Gun Law
A gun is seen in a file photograph. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)
Masooma Haq

Maryland State Police issued an advisory on Nov. 21, announcing the agency would continue enforcing Maryland’s “handgun qualification law” (HQL) despite a recent court decision ruling the law unconstitutional.

In the order, the state police’s licensing division said the ruling becomes effective only when the court issues a mandate, and that state authorities will continue to enforce the law until then.

“At this time, the HQL law remains in effect and there are no immediate changes in the process to purchase a firearm in Maryland,” the advisory stated. The Maryland State Police did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

Maryland officials have two weeks to file for a rehearing, and if the state fails to do so, the federal appeals court will issue an automatic mandate seven days later, placing the final court ruling on Dec. 11. Otherwise, state Attorney General Anthony Brown’s office can appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court no later than Dec. 21.

Meanwhile, Maryland Republican Party Chairwoman Nicole Beus Harris told FOX45 News she believes Gov. Wes Moore’s administration will appeal the court’s ruling and continue to push a “radical left, anti-gun agenda,” instead of getting tough on criminals.

Maryland Republicans were glad about the court’s recent ruling.

In the 2–1 decision from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 21, the HQL requirement was found to be unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.

The appeals court found that the decade-old HQL law—which requires fingerprinting, training, and up to a 30-day waiting period to purchase a firearm—violates the U.S. Constitution according to the precedent set by last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Bruen case.

That Supreme Court decision holds that firearm regulation is unconstitutional unless the government can show that it is consistent with the nation’s historical tradition.

State Weighing Legal Options

Mr. Brown’s spokesperson Jennifer Donelan told FOX45 News that they are weighing all their legal options to fight the ruling. Meanwhile, Maryland Senate President and Baltimore Democrat Bill Ferguson was angered by the court’s decision.
“Every responsible gun owner supports basic firearms training and keeping guns out of criminals’ hands,” Mr. Ferguson said in a statement to local media. “This decision will unequivocally lead to more gun violence and firearms-related deaths.”

Mr. Moore shared Mr. Ferguson’s sentiment and said his administration will fight the decision.

“I am disappointed in the Fourth Circuit Court’s decision,“ the governor 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.”

Mr. Moore says he has been working to keep Marylanders safe, but gun rights activists say the laws he recently signed into law are restricting law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves and their families.

The Maryland General Assembly recently approved two bills that place significant restrictions on the right of Maryland residents to engage in armed self-defense in public.

Senate Bill 1 restricts the carrying of a firearm in certain locations or buildings unless express consent is granted by the building’s owner or agent, with certain places designated as off-limits irrespective of the property owner’s stance.

House Bill 824 affects carry permits by raising fees, modifying background investigations, increasing penalties for carrying a handgun without a permit, and introducing new disqualifications for the possession of regulated firearms.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.
Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
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