A three judge panel for the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a 2016 lawsuit against the state of Maryland on Monday for strict gun control laws enacted in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The suit was originally filed by a gun owners advocacy group, Maryland Shall Issue, two private citizens, and a local gun store, Atlantic Guns, in 2016. The suit claimed that Maryland’s Firearm Safety Act of 2013 (FSA) violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and imposed an unconstitutional burden on gun owners in the state. The FSA was enacted by the Maryland state government in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting that killed 26 students and faculty in December of 2012. The FSA requires that people who wish to purchase a handgun attend a 4-hour safety training session, raised the minimum age for handgun sales to 21, and required background checks prior to the sale of a handgun. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2019 by the Federal District Court, which held that none of the parties had suffered a concrete injury after the law’s passage and thus failed to have standing to sue the state.
On Monday the appellate court partially vacated the District Court’s dismissal of the case and reinstated it for further deliberations. The Circuit Court determined that the trial court had erred because Atlantic Guns had suffered a concrete injury because the additional cost to potential customers who wished to purchase a handgun had possibly depressed sales following the enactment of the FSA. Because of this injury, the appellate court determined that Atlantic Guns could pursue the Second Amendment claim on behalf of itself and the other parties to the litigation. But the appellate court rejected the Fourteenth Amendment claims, finding that the District Court correctly dismissed those claims.