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Maryland Handgun License Law Challenged in Gun Groups’ Lawsuit

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- A collection of gun rights groups sued to block a Maryland law slated to take effect Oct. 1 requiring anyone seeking to obtain a pistol, revolver or other small firearm to get a handgun license.

The law infringes on the U.S. Constitution’s right to possess firearms because the state doesn’t yet have a mechanism to apply for the license, effectively preventing the acquisition of handguns, according to the complaint filed in federal court in Baltimore by the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association and seven other groups and individuals.

On Oct. 1, “no one in the state of Maryland will have a handgun qualification license, and no one can credibly predict when anyone in the state of Maryland will obtain a handgun qualification license,” the gun advocates said in their filing. “This Catch-22 creates a complete ban on the acquisition of handguns in Maryland.”

The handgun license provision was in a package of changes to gun regulation signed into law May 16 by Governor Martin O’Malley.

“The vast majority of Marylanders support these common sense efforts to reduce gun violence,” Samantha Kappalman, a spokeswoman for O’Malley, said in a phone interview. “The new law will take effect and on Tuesday and it will make families safer.”

In March, a three-judge panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld another Maryland law requiring that people who want permits to carry guns outside the home show “good and substantial reason” for doing so.

Safety Training

The new law requires licensing, fingerprinting and safety training to purchase a handgun, bans the sale of assault weapons and limits magazine capacity, among other provisions.

Persons who have submitted handgun purchase applications before Oct. 1 won’t be required to get a license, according to a statement by the Maryland State Police.

In a similar suit filed Sept. 26, gun advocates, including some who filed yesterday’s complaint, challenged the new law’s restrictions on assault weapons and magazine capacity.

The case is Doe v. O’Malley, 13-cv-2861, U.S. District Court, Maryland (Baltimore). Yesterday’s complaint is Tardy v. O’Malley, 13-cv-2841, U.S. District Court, Maryland (Baltimore).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Zajac in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net

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