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Maryland Handgun Licensure Law Ruled Unconstitutional by US Court

On Tuesday, November 21, 2023, a federal court ruled that Maryland’s handgun licensure law is unconstitutional. The law required people who want to purchase a handgun in Maryland to obtain a license from the state police. The court ruled that the law violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.


In 2013, Maryland passed the Handgun Qualification License Act (HQLA), which requires individuals seeking to purchase a handgun in the state to undergo training and obtain a license from the Maryland State Police. The law also requires applicants to submit their fingerprints and undergo a background check.

Court Challenge

In 2016, a group of gun rights activists filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the HQLA. The plaintiffs argued that the law violates the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Court Ruling

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the HQLA is unconstitutional. The panel found that the law imposes an undue burden on the right to bear arms. The panel also found that the law is not narrowly tailored to achieve a legitimate government interest.

Maryland’s Response

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said that the state is “disappointed” with the court’s decision and is considering appealing it. Frosh said that the HQLA is a “sensible measure” that helps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

Implications for Other States

The Fourth Circuit’s decision is likely to have significant implications for other states with handgun licensure laws. The decision could lead to legal challenges to similar laws in other states.


The Fourth Circuit’s decision is a major victory for gun rights activists. The decision is likely to have a significant impact on the debate over gun control in the United States.

Significance of the Ruling

The Fourth Circuit’s ruling is significant because it is one of the first federal appellate court decisions to strike down a handgun licensure law on Second Amendment grounds. The ruling is also significant because it comes at a time when the Supreme Court is increasingly hostile to gun control laws.

Implications for the Future of Gun Control

It is unclear what the long-term implications of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling will be. However, the ruling is likely to make it more difficult for states to pass and enforce gun control laws.

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