TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Congressman Andy Kim has proposed a federal gun law that requires training, certification and a federal license that nullifies state gun licenses. A similar law to the one proposed by Kim was deemed unconstitutional last week by a federal judge.
A U.S. appeals court has ruled that Maryland’s handgun licensing requirements are unconstitutional, marking a significant decision in the context of American gun rights. The ruling was made by a three-judge panel of the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, with a 2-1 vote against the 2013 Maryland law.
The law, part of Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013, mandated training and background checks before individuals could apply for licenses to buy handguns. The court found this to be in violation of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects the right to “keep and bear arms.”
This decision aligns with the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v Bruen, which emphasized that gun laws must align with the historical tradition of firearm regulation to withstand Second Amendment challenges.
U.S. Circuit Judge Julius Richardson, appointed by former President Donald Trump, led the ruling, criticizing the Maryland law as an “additional, preliminary step” imposing a 30-day waiting period before the standard firearm acquisition process. This, according to Richardson, was inconsistent with the nation’s historical firearm regulation tradition.
The lawsuit against the Maryland law was supported by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which also covered the litigation costs. Randy Kozuch, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legal Action, lauded the ruling as a significant victory for the Second Amendment.
Maryland Attorney General Andrew Brown’s office, which is defending the law, is currently considering its next steps in the case.
The Maryland law was similar in many ways to a federal bill introduced by New Jersey Congressman Kim.
The handgun qualification licensing requirement, under scrutiny, required prospective handgun buyers to submit fingerprints for a background check and complete a four-hour safety training course, followed by a waiting period of up to 30 days.
Maryland Shall Issue, a gun rights group, along with two individuals and a gun store, filed the lawsuit in 2016, arguing that these restrictions violated the Second Amendment. Despite their claims being rejected twice by a lower court judge, the appeals court’s decision has now overturned those rulings.
The 2022 Supreme Court decision has led to a series of court decisions challenging federal and state firearm restrictions. Maryland had argued that its law reflected historical limitations on firearm ownership by “dangerous” people, but the appeals court disagreed, stating that no historical laws functioned by preemptively depriving all citizens of firearms.
U.S. Circuit Judge Barbara Milano Keenan, appointed by former President Barack Obama, dissented from the majority opinion, suggesting that this reasoning could potentially deem most non-discretionary handgun permit laws in the country as unconstitutional.