Published on:

Two Maryland Gun Laws Scrutinized in Federal Court

Gun-evidence-box-300x225While Maryland lawmakers are busy hamming out new legislation to send to the Governor for a signature two current state laws are under scrutiny in the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.  These laws have been the subject of numerous headlines over the last few years, and now their Constitutionality is being put to the test.  The first law is the Maryland Handgun Qualification program, which requires all citizens to obtain a license in order to purchase a handgun.  The license, commonly known as an HQL, can only be obtained after a rigorous background check complete with fingerprinting and completion of a 4-hour gun safety class.  As a result of these requirements, purchasers face a delay of weeks or even months before they can obtain a handgun.  The HQL was originally struck down by a panel of three federal judges, but the State of Maryland filed for a rehearing and the program was brought back to life.  The State Police never actually stopped enforcing the HQL program despite the original ruling declaring it unconstitutional back in November.  Arguments are currently in progress, and a ruling could come down in a matter of weeks.  Either side could potentially petition the Supreme Court of the United States to review an unfavorable decision, but at this stage if the law is struck down the HQL program would likely be shelved or scrapped completely.

The second law that is up for debate in the federal appeals court is the assault weapons ban that followed with the passage of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013.  This debate is far more complex and involves a full examination of the history of the Second Amendment and the balance of gun rights against the dangers of military style weapons being readily available for purchase.  Maryland criminal law section 4-301 provides the definition of an assault weapon per Maryland lawmakers.  It lists more than 80 specific gun models including the infamous AK-47, Uzi semiautomatic pistol and AR-15 rifle.  These weapons have been widely used on Hollywood movie sets and unfortunately in a host of real-life shootings.  The problem with these weapons is not only their large capacity magazines but also their ability to fire numerous rounds within seconds.  This ultimately reduces accuracy and places innocent bystanders at risk if the weapon falls into the wrong hands.  A violation of the ban on possession of an assault rifle is currently a misdemeanor with a 3-year maximum penalty under 4-306 of the criminal code.  If the assault rifle is used in a crime the penalty becomes up to 20 years with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison.  Use of a firearm in a crime does not require the State to prove that the gun was discharged.

The Blog will continue to follow each of these cases and will post a follow-up article when the courts have made their rulings.  If you or a loved one has been charged with any criminal offense, contact Maryland gun possession lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation.  Benjamin has successfully defended more than 200 clients in gun crimes ranging from possession of a firearm by a convicted felon or disqualified individual to unlawful wear, transport or carry of a firearm.  He has represented out of state residents and juveniles charged as adults in cases involving possession of a firearm by a minor.  He has successfully transferred numerous cases from adult court to juvenile court, and secured the release of his juvenile clients.  Benjamin has also represented dozens of clients in federal court for gun possession at a federal facility such as the NIH or various miliary bases and has handled unlawful transfer of a firearm to an out of state individual.  Contact Benjamin anytime for a free consultation about your case at 410-207-2598.

Contact Information