(The Center Square) — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to strike down part of Maryland’s handgun licensing requirements, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on a gun rights case last year.
In a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that the requirements, which included a background check with fingerprinting, four hours of firearm safety training and a potential 30-day wait for licensing, were unconstitutional.
The majority opinion referenced the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen decision, which expanded Second Amendment laws and established a “historical tradition” test to measure current gun laws.
“The government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.
The decision was a victory for gun rights activists and an upset for Maryland Democrats who established the law in 2013 in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting.
“This decision is another disastrous consequence of the absurd new SCOTUS standard that today’s gun laws need to match those from the 1800s. This will make Marylanders less safe. SCOTUS needs to reconsider its ridiculous rule, overturn this decision and end this dangerous trend,” Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Tuesday.
The ruling was consistent with more than a dozen court decisions across the country, which have thrown out some gun laws following Bruen – and now Maryland, though a deeply blue state and home to some of the strictest gun laws before the decision, can be added to that list.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled in a Texas case that persons subject to domestic violence protective orders could own guns. The Supreme Court heard arguments for that case on Nov. 7 and is currently deliberating. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a Pennsylvania case that nonviolent felons cannot be prevented from gun ownership. A U.S. District Court in Virginia ruled that prohibiting people under 21 from owning firearms is unlawful.
“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,” said Randy Kozuch, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, celebrating the decision.
Everytown for Gun Safety, meanwhile, called the decision “dangerous and misguided.”
“Requiring handgun purchasers to pass a background check and undergo gun safety training prior to purchasing a gun is not only common sense, it is entirely consistent with the Second Amendment and the new test established by the Bruen decision,” said William Taylor, deputy director of
Second Amendment litigation at Everytown Law, in a statement.
The state can seek review from the full Fourth Circuit or appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.