The National Rifle Association said Wednesday it is backing a legal challenge of a Maryland law that requires handgun buyers to undergo training and to apply for a state license, saying it creates unnecessary barriers for average citizens to exercise their rights.
The influential gun-rights group is supporting a lawsuit in which Maryland Shall Issue, another Second Amendment protection group, and individual gun owners are suing Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and William Pallozzi, the state police superintendent, in federal court to overturn the law.
"This law was put in place with no other purpose than to discourage, financially burden, and intimidate law-abiding people from purchasing handguns for self-defense and other lawful purposes," NRA spokeswoman Amy Hunter said in a statement. "This is quite simply a background check, after a background check, after a background check. It is wasteful and burdensome. But, more importantly, it has zero impact on the criminals using illegal firearms to commit crimes. Maryland should stop restricting the rights of law-abiding people and focus on going after criminals."
On Wednesday, Maryland Shall Issue filed a motion requesting a federal judge to rule the law violates the Second Amendment.
Under the law, Maryland residents who wish to purchase a handgun must fill out an application with the Maryland State Police, provide a copy of their fingerprints from a third party, attend classroom instruction and qualify with a handgun during a fire exercise in which at least one live round is fired in order to obtain a handgun qualification license.
In addition, applicants must pay a $50 fee and wait for up to 30 days for authorities to process the applications. The license only applies to those looking to purchase, rent or transfer a handgun after Oct. 1 2013 unless otherwise exempted.
The suit contends the law's cost and lengthy process is invasive and unnecessary. Mark Pennak, president of Maryland Shall Issue, said the law is meant to dissuade people from purchasing firearms.
"That's exactly what it is," he told Fox News, citing the live-fire requirement. "They have to arrange transportation to a range, meet an instructor, to fire one bullet. Any instructor will tell you that's just nonsense in terms of actual training."
Calls and messages to Hogan's office were not immediately returned.
In addition, Pennak said other costs such as paying for an instructor, fingerprints and other items are prohibitive.