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Federal Court Overturns Maryland’s Toughest Gun-Control Law

A federal appeals court overturned one of Maryland’s toughest gun-control laws Tuesday, saying the decade-old handgun licensing statute that required fingerprinting, firearms training and a waiting period of up to a month violated the Second Amendment, the Washington Post reports. The ruling blocks Maryland’s enforcement of a key part of a 2013 law passed after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. The law required handgun buyers, who already faced background checks and waiting periods for purchases, obtain an additional “handgun qualification license” from Maryland officials and wait up to 30 days to have it approved.

The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit is among the first to strike down handgun permit requirements under a legal test established by the Supreme Court in 2022 that requires judges to consider whether modern-day regulations mirror what was in place around the time of the country’s founding. When the law was passed, advocates heralded the extra steps as a way to deal with “straw purchasers” who bought guns on behalf of people who couldn’t pass a background check. But 4th Circuit judges said in their opinion Tuesday that the prospect of waiting 30 days for a permit abridged gun buyers’ right to keep and bear arms. “The law’s waiting period could well be the critical time in which the applicant expects to face danger,” the appeals court stated.

Gun rights advocates have argued in courts across the country that dozens of long-standing state and federal gun laws cannot survive the Supreme Court’s new historical test. And judges, at times reluctantly, have agreed in cases affecting age restrictions for handgun purchases, the kinds of “sensitive places” where guns can be legally banned, and the kinds of convictions for which states can ban people from possessing guns under New York State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, the landmark 2022 ruling that found gun restrictions unconstitutional unless they were already in place around the time of the Second Amendment’s adoption or were closely analogous to Colonial-era restrictions.


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