MSI Challenges the Handgun Qualification License (HQL)

HQL photo

September 30th, 2016

Today, Maryland Shall Issue, Atlantic Guns of Rockville and Silver Spring, MD, and several individual citizens of Maryland filed suit in federal district court in Baltimore, challenging every aspect of the Handgun Qualification License (HQL) requirements imposed by the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, and the implementing regulations and practices imposed by the Maryland State Police in 2013.  A copy of the complaint, as filed in court, can be found HERE on the Maryland Shall Issue website.

Briefly summarized, the suit alleges that the Handgun Qualification License requirements, both as set forth in the statute, and as implemented by the Maryland State Police, violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution by placing unjustifiable and overwhelming burdens on the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase a handgun for the home. The suit further alleges that aspects of the statute and the regulations violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by, among other things, imposing such vague requirements that citizens are exposed to a profound risk of discriminatory and arbitrary arrest and prosecution. Finally, the suit directly attacks the regulations issued by the Maryland State Police on a variety of state law grounds. Those regulations and practices impose even more onerous requirements, not required by the statute, and are thus illegal under well-established principles of Maryland administrative law.

The HQL requirements, particularly as implemented by the State Police, were intended to create as many obstacles to the purchase of a handgun as possible and thus effectively ration the exercise of constitutional rights to the few who have the substantial time, money, specialized knowledge and sheer determination to navigate all these roadblocks to the exercise of a constitutional right. That result is wrong and simply cannot be meekly accepted without a fight. That fight is now on.

Our legal counsel in this suit is Cary J. Hansel, Hansel Law, PC, 2514 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218. While the State of Maryland is sure to resist and it is always hazardous to predict litigation, we look forward to working with Cary to achieve a successful outcome in this case.

This is just the first step.  There is a still a long road ahead and we will need your continued help and support as this suit proceeds.

Sincerely,
Mark Pennak
President Maryland Shall Issue

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Case Documents and History
US District Court for the District of Maryland Case# Case 1:16-cv-03311-ELH*
*Case originally assigned to Judge Marvin J. Garbis (ret.)

9/30/16 - Complaint
12/2/16 - Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss
12/28/16 - Amended Complaint
1/20/17 - Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint
2/28/17 - Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
3/20/17 - Defendants' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss
9/6/17 - MEMORANDUM AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 18 Defendants' Motion to Dismiss the Amended Complaint
7/26/18 - Case reassigned to Judge Ellen L. Hollander
8/17/18 - Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
10/5/18 - Plaintiffs' Memorandum for Cross Motion for Summar Judgment and Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
3/31/19 - ORDER granting Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
4/25/19 - Plaintiffs' Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

See the full docket HERE

US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Case# 19-1469
8/3/20 - JUDGMENT of USCA affirming in part and reversing in part. Remanding to the District Court for further proceedings

Case returned to US District Court
9/8/20 - Mandate of Fourth Circuit takes effect
11/25/20 - Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
1/27/21 - Plaintiffs' Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment and Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment
8/23/21 - Memorandum Opinion dismissing suit
9/10/21 - Notice of Appeal
9/16/21 - USCA Case Number 21-2017 for Notice of Appeal

US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Case# 21-2017
9/16/21 - Case docketed
9/27/21 - Order Consolidating Cases 21-2017 and 21-2053
10/6/21 - Plaintiffs' (Appellants) Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance
10/6/21 - State's Response to Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance due 10/18/2021
10/14/21 - Appellees’ (State) Opposition to Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance
10/14/21 - Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance
11/2/21 - Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Hold Appeal in Abeyance
Case will be held (paused) pending the outcome in New York State Rifle and Pistol Assn v. Bruen

 

Latest News

US Supreme Court Orders Response from MD Attorney General Brian Frosh in "Assault Weapon" Ban Challenge

On January 14, the Supreme Court ordered the Maryland Attorney General to file a response to the petition for certiorari filed by plaintiffs in Bianchi v. Frosh, No. 21-901. In that case, plaintiffs are challenging Maryland's "assault weapon" ban as unconstitutional.

That order means, at the minimum, that at least one Justice on the Court wants a response. It also likely means that the Court will hold this petition pending a decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, No. 20-843, in which the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of New York's "good cause" requirement for carry permits. Holding Bianchi would be consistent with the hold that the Court has apparently placed on the petition filed in the New Jersey "large-capacity magazine" case, ANJRPC v. Bruck, No. 20-1507. The petition in that case has been pending in the Supreme Court since April of 2021. All of this is good news. A decision in Bruen this Spring may mean that the Court will thereafter vacate the lower court decisions in both Bianchi and ANJRPC and remand for further consideration in light of Bruen. At least, we hope that is the outcome.

The Dangers of Maryland's Carry Laws

On August 12, 2021, Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that a violation of Md. Criminal Law § 4-203(a)(1)(i) is a strict liability crime. Put simply, if one has a handgun on or about them and is not authorized to do so, they are guilty of violating the law. The case is Lawrence v. State, 471 Md. 101 (2021).

Section 4-203 is the statute that broadly prohibits the wear, carry, or transport of handguns within the State. Specifically, § 4-203(a)(1)(i) states:

 (a)    (1)    Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a person may not:

            (i)    wear, carry, or transport a handgun, whether concealed or open, on or about the person;

There are a few exceptions to this ban (found in subsection (b) of Section 4-203), such as one having a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit, possession in the home or business (by the business owner), or when transporting an unloaded handgun (kept in an enclosed case or enclosed holster) between a gun shop and one's residence or from their residence to a gun range. But, outside these sharply limited exceptions set out in subsection (b), the passage above otherwise broadly criminalizes having a pistol on (or about) the person. 

Read more ...

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Maryland Shall Issue®, Inc.
9613 Harford Rd
Ste C #1015
Baltimore, MD 21234-2150

Phone:  410-849-9197
Email: 
Web:   www.marylandshallissue.org