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What’s the status of Maryland’s handgun licensing law?

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense

It can be difficult for people who want to be responsible gun owners to keep up with the laws – not just here in Maryland but in neighboring Virginia and Washington, D.C. That’s not getting any easier. 

In November, a panel of federal court of appeals judges ruled that Maryland’s requirement that those who wish to purchase a handgun obtain their license before making a purchase is too restrictive. It can take as long as 30 days from the application date to get a license.

The current law, which has been in place since 2013, also requires prospective handgun owners to submit their fingerprints and pass a background check as well as go through safety training. The law was challenged by a Maryland gun rights group that had been fighting the law unsuccessfully since 2016.

A majority of the appeals court panel agreed with the group, ruling that the state failed to show that these regulations were “consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation.” That’s a standard set in a gun rights case that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in recent years. They also noted that this 30-day waiting period could endanger those who believe they face an imminent threat. 

Maryland’s AG is asking for a review by the full court

This may not be the final word, however. Leaders in the state, starting with Gov. Wes Moore, expressed disappointment with the decision. 

Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown has asked all 15 justices in the appeals court to review the case. Only three heard the initial appeal and made the ruling. In announcing that he’s seeking a hearing of the case by the full court, AG Brown stated, “My office will continue to defend laws that are designed to protect Marylanders from gun violence.”

Anyone seeking to own a gun must understand the current state law, including the requirements that a person be 21 and a Maryland resident, which are not being challenged. Buying from reputable dealers can help you make sure that you’re doing everything correctly. However, if you’re facing any kind of firearms charge, it’s important to understand the potential consequences and to seek legal guidance to help protect your rights.