Maryland Police Enforcing Overturned Gun Law To Appeals Deadline

Maryland police are continuing to enforce a handgun law overturned last week in federal court right up until the deadline for the state to appeal it later in December.

Guidance was issued shortly after the ruling overturned the unconstitutional gun law, stating, “the HQL law remains in effect and there are no immediate changes in the process to purchase a firearm in Maryland.” HQL stands for Handgun Qualification License.

The controversial HQL policy requires residents to submit to fingerprinting and a background check, then undergo a four-hour course and wait for a total of 37 days to receive a handgun permit from the state.

A three-judge panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last Tuesday that the Maryland law is burdensome to residents of the state. The court ruled the policy does not stand under the landmark 2022 Bruen decision by the Supreme Court upholding the Second Amendment and the historical precedent of firearm freedom in the United States.

Because Maryland has 14 days to appeal the decision striking down HQL, state police are enforcing the law until the state appeals or the court issues a mandate.

Crime in Maryland overall dropped during the last decade, but violent gun crime against youths has increased significantly, especially in Baltimore City. According to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the number of young people shot in the state has risen to four times the number a decade ago.

“Murder and attempted murder arrests for juveniles in Baltimore City have consistently increased over the past five years,” the department said. “The number of youth who are victims of violent crimes has increased significantly, with non-fatal shooting of young people quadrupling statewide over the past decade. ”

Recent incidents of gun crime in Maryland include a 12-year-old boy who was shot in September near a high school football game. A 14-year-old girl was shot a few days later near Carver VoTech in West Baltimore. Neighboring Washington D.C., which has strict gun laws similar to Maryland policies, has the highest violent crime rate in the United States.