AG Gansler: Proposed Handgun Qualification License is Constitutional
Registration provision in SB 281 cannot lead to confiscation
Baltimore, MD ( Jan. 28, 2013) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that the Handgun Qualification License as proposed in Senate Bill 281 is constitutional and meets the requirements of the Second Amendment and the 2008 United States Supreme Court decision in Heller v. District of Columbia. This legal analysis was issued today by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to the General Assembly in response to a request for advice by one of the bill's sponsors. Senator Brian Frosh requested advice after the constitutionality of the proposal was raised publically as the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (SB 281) was being introduced in Annapolis.
"Not only are the proposed handgun license qualifications constitutional under the Second Amendment, but law-abiding gun owners have nothing to fear," said Attorney General Gansler. "The qualifications do not allow for confiscation of guns nor could they under the Heller decision."
From the OAG advice letter issued to the General Assembly:
In 2008, the United States Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment codifies a pre-existing "individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation." Heller v. District of Columbia, 554 U.S. 570, 592 (2008). But the Heller Court was also quick to point out, "[l]ike most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited...
There is apparently a belief among some opponents of gun regulations that because there is a constitutional right to individual handgun possession, the right may not be subject to regulation. That belief, however, is not supported by either the Heller decision itself, which is clear that there are important limitations on the exercise of that right...Instead, proposed gun regulations must be analyzed under the various standards that courts have developed to implement the Heller decision.
As introduced, the Handgun Qualification License under SB 281 provides the following: "...to be eligible to purchase, rent, or receive a handgun, one must possess a Handgun Qualification License issued by the Department of State Police. To obtain a Handgun Qualification License, an applicant must:
- be at least 21 years old;
- be a Maryland resident;
- have taken a firearms safety course (or be exempted from that requirement); and
- not be prohibited by federal or state law from owning or possessing a firearm.
Click here for the SB281 Handgun Qualifications License Advice Letter (PDF)