Gun Licensing Law Challenged In Federal Court

A new federal lawsuit in Maryland is challenging the state’s Handgun Qualification License, which requires would-be gun owners to pay hundreds of dollars in fees and wait for weeks on end in order to receive permission from the state to purchase or possess a pistol.

The case, known as Maryland Shall Issue vs. Hogan, argues that the Maryland law is designed to chill the exercise of a constitutionally-protected right by imposing needless burdens on would-be gun owners. On today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. we take a closer look at the new lawsuit as well as the law that’s being challenged by Maryland Shall Issue with assistance from the National Rifle Association.

“This law was put in place with no other purpose than to discourage, financially burden, and intimidate law-abiding people from purchasing handguns for self-defense and other lawful purposes,” said Amy Hunter, spokeswoman, NRA. “This is quite simply a background check, after a background check, after a background check.  It is wasteful and burdensome.  But, more importantly, it has zero impact on the criminals using illegal firearms to commit crimes. Maryland should stop restricting the rights of law-abiding people and focus on going after criminals.”

The state’s own expert witness admitted the law was created to “intimidate” law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment right to buy a handgun.

“This is an unconstitutional and wasteful law. It creates hoops that impede the average citizen’s ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right to own a handgun while not affecting the black market or other illegal venues where most criminals get their guns,” concluded Hunter.

Hunter is absolutely correct that the Handgun Qualification License is no impediment to criminals in the state. The homicide rate in Baltimore is proof enough of that. The law establishing the Handgun Qualification License was approved in 2013, but since then Baltimore has had six straight years with more than 300 homicides,

Clearly the criminals don’t care about going through the cumbersome process of legally acquiring a handgun in Maryland. Then again, criminals aren’t the target of this legislation. As the NRA points out, this law is designed to inhibit the lawful exercise of our right to keep and bear arms rather than punishing the use of a gun in a violent crime.

Under the terms of the Maryland law, there’s no way to expedite the process or receive an emergency license allowing an individual to purchase a firearm for self-defense without waiting more than a month to get permission from the state.

Angry ex threatening your life? Doesn’t matter. Just moved to a high crime neighborhood and want a handgun to protect yourself and your kids? Have a seat, because you’ll be waiting awhile.

Even for those not facing an imminent threat the law poses a severe burden on the right to keep and bear arms with its draconian, expensive, and time-consuming requirements. I’ve seen firsthand how laws like these leave good people in bad neighborhoods unprotected while criminals flaunt their defiance of the law and prey on unarmed victims.

When I first met my wife nearly 24 years ago, she was a single mom living in Camden, New Jersey. At the time, Camden was the murder capitol of the United States, and the sound of gunshots were a regular feature in her neighborhood. There was virtually no way, however, that she could legally obtain a gun for her protection. It would have required taking multiple days off work, riding the bus down to the local police department for her interviews, submitting all of the required paperwork (including character references), and hoping against hope that the police wouldn’t use the wide discretion afforded to them to deny her a pistol purchase permit even though she was legally eligible to buy a gun.

Maryland’s Handgun Qualification License reminds me a lot of those B.S. restrictions in New Jersey that prevented a single mom from protecting herself and her kids while it failed to stop her neighbor’s ex-boyfriend from illegally obtaining a gun and emptying a magazine into the front doors of the apartments where the women lived.

I can’t help but wonder how many single mothers there are in Baltimore today who are facing the same situation; a neighborhood where violent criminals ignore the law with impunity while the law-abiding are left unarmed and defenseless thanks to the barriers erected by the state between the People and their right to keep and bear arms.

Mar 04, 2021 8:00 PM ET