Oct. 1, 2013
A federal judge Tuesday declined to halt Maryland’s strict new gun laws while several lawsuits challenging their constitutionality go forward.
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake issued the opinion after a morning hearing on the Firearm Safety Act of 2013.
Attorneys on behalf of several Maryland gun owners and gun advocacy groups filed lawsuits — and related requests for restraining orders — last week arguing that the new laws violate the Second Amendment by arbitrarily outlawing certain guns and prohibiting features and accessories that promote their effective and efficient use.
Judge Blake said the decision to wait until two days before the effective date “significantly undercut” the request for fast action, and she was not convinced the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm or that the order was in the best interest of the public.
“There’s a strong public interest in lessening the risk of tragedies,” Judge Blake said. “Potentially the only economic harm could be on behalf of the dealers.”
The Maryland law that took effect Tuesday requires gun buyers to submit their fingerprints and obtain handgun qualification licenses. The law also limits handgun magazines to 10 rounds and adds 45 guns to a list of banned assault weapons. Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, proposed the bill in January and signed it into law in May.
Asked by Judge Blake why the plaintiffs did not file earlier this year, attorney Tara Sky Woodward said “we would have been damned if we did, damned if we didn’t.”
Attorneys also argued that the state’s licensing process was so far behind in approving firearms applications that it amounts to a “de facto moratorium” on handgun purchases.
“They’re not ready, they don’t have the process in place,” attorney John Parker Sweeney said.