Letter from Maryland Shall Issue: Why We’re Focusing on HQL


Maryland Shall Issue writes [via ammoland.com]: We are excited about filing the Handgun Qualification License (HQL) suit. As previously reported, this suit directly challenges the Handgun Qualification License requirements imposed by Maryland law, both as set forth in the statute, and as implemented by the Maryland State Police.

Those requirements violate the Second Amendment of the Constitution by placing unjustifiable and overwhelming burdens on the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase a handgun for the home. In good conscience, we cannot allow the HQL requirements to go unchallenged.

That said, MSI has definitely not lost focus on the right to carry. Carry is still very much our mission. However, the Woollard litigation settled, for now, the facial constitutionality of Maryland’s good and substantial requirement for carry.

The Fourth Circuit’s decision in that case, while wrong, is unfortunately binding precedent on that issue. As a lawyer, I can tell you that pretty much precludes further litigation on that point, at least until the Supreme Court acts on the issue.

In the meantime, we lend support to those who continue to contest similar requirements in other jurisdictions, such as Baker in the Ninth Circuit and Grace and Wrenn in the D.C. Circuit, in the hopes of creating a circuit conflict suitable for Supreme Court review.

We are also pushing on every front in Maryland for whatever incremental changes we can obtain on carry. I don’t have to tell you how difficult that is in Maryland, but we have not given up. Not by a long shot.

Fundamentally, the HQL suit and carry are related. Both involve Second Amendment rights, as does the Kolbe case in which MSI is also a named plaintiff. A person cannot keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment if he cannot buy them, either because they are banned (Kolbe) or because it is too difficult or too expensive to navigate all the obstacles the State has placed in a person’s path (HQL).

The HQL suit highlights the burdens imposed by the HQL requirements and makes clear that the real issue is the right to self-defense, which lies at the core of the Second Amendment. A successful result in the suit will affect carry rights, as the Second Amendment law developed in an HQL suit will carry over to other Second Amendment issues. A frontal attack failed in Woollard.

It is now all about attacking on the flanks where the State’s defenses are weaker. A win in the HQL suit, even a partial win, could affect other Second Amendment issues, including carry. That’s just how the law works. We look forward to your continuing support.

Mark W. Pennak
President, MSI

Not Yet a member of MSI? Join Here!

About Maryland Shall Issue:

Mission Statement: Maryland Shall Issue is an all volunteer, non-partisan effort dedicated to the preservation and advancement of all gunowners’ rights in Maryland, with a primary goal of CCW reform to allow all law-abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon; and to the education of the community to the awareness that ‘shall issue’ laws have, in all cases, resulted in decreased rates of violent crime.

For more information, visit: www.marylandshallissue.org.


  1. avatar JJ says:

    While I applaud the effort, this is a hopeless cause. I thought about joining this group, but then I decided to move out of Maryland instead. Vote with your feet people. Move to Virginia or Pennsylvania, or even Delaware. Those states are winnable, and they need the help. Virginia, with years of unchecked MASSIVE illegal immigration, and the gravity of DC government work drawing in progressives from all over, will be facing a crisis soon. If you want a win on guns, and to preserve our precious individual liberties, come to a nearby state that still has some of those liberties but is facing a crisis in the near term.

    1. avatar Jus Bill says:

      That tactic will work as long as the Maryland Liberal and Progressives don’t follow you across the border. They are like a massive flock of starlings that move from place to place, and foul everywhere they settle even a little while.

    2. avatar Adam says:

      VA is a lost cause too. In 10 years it will be solid blue thanks to DC jobs calling more and more statists to live in the area. If you really want to help move to PA or NC. Those states could still be liveable in 10 years.

    3. avatar Cdotson says:

      Agreed it’s hopeless. Any unlikely success is just incremental and would leave large quantities of work remaining to achieve anything resembling firearms freedom.

      The Maryland State Police maintains a handgun registry (but not for handguns manufactured prior to the 1968 GCA, so you MD residents keep that nugget of wisdom). The MSP imposes a waiting period and used to (but may not still?) perform their own redundant background check.

      Former Maryland resident myself. Gave up my Maryland residency within three weeks of college graduation, but it was gone in spirit day 1 of my undergraduate studies (in 1997).

  2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    “That’s just how the law works.”

    Translation: the law is nothing more than politics these days and everything is on the table.

  3. avatar gs650g says:

    We have a legal system not a justice system. Remember that.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Excellent comment … another way of saying what I said.

      1. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

        Yes, very similar to how I’ve heard it put:

        “Justice is an ideal. Laws are tools. Like all tools, laws can be used for good or ill.”

  4. avatar ButtHurtz says:

    The only way to make any meaningful difference is to shoot anyone that tries to infringe your rights.

    Anything else is mental masterbation and makes no difference.

    1. avatar Adam says:

      Have at it then tough guy. If you’re not from MD I can even supply you with a list to get you started on your next visit here.

      1. avatar ButtHurtz says:

        I ain’t “tough”. What about pulling a trigger requires being tough?

        1. avatar neiowa says:

          The marxist progs will do all in their power to toughin up your arse in punishing your transgressions. In Maryland they have considerable power.

          A hard thing to determine the time/place.

  5. avatar stateisevil says:

    Abandon ship. People of the gun or people who just like freedom should settle in about 20 states and bar progs from moving in when they soil their nest. They’ll be welcome to visit, but have no voting power. If only.

    1. avatar 2004done says:

      StateIsEvil: the other 30 states (37 for obamao) have already succumbed to the “felt,-never-reasoned” insidious evil, including my own. Anybody want to buy my house so I can get the heck out? (another of MY ‘If Only’s)

    2. avatar Jus Bill says:

      I believe Oregon used to be that way. A long time ago. Then San Francisco and LA got to expensive to live in.

    3. avatar Old Ben turning in grave says:

      I’ve been trying to keep an eye on the Free State Project in New Hampshire last couple of years. Not working very well as far as I can see, but then 1) many of the so-called libertarians moving in support concepts like socialized medicine, so they are selectively statist, and 2) a giant swarm of statists driven from MA by piles of their own (metaphorical) feces seem to have taken over the lower third of the State. At least that’s the way it looks from the outside. I really like New England, been looking to Maine now. That’s iffy too though. Also, if the leftist and American states split (unlikely, but possible I think) I really don’t want to get stuck on the wrong side of the iron curtain.

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