HQL Member Polling
Dear MSI Member:
While we are still a bit short of money (please keep those contributions coming in!) we nonetheless are gearing up for the HQL suit on the premise that we will file it this Fall. One of the essential elements in any suit in federal court is “standing”
which is legalese for alleging how we (as an organization and as members) have been hurt by the HQL requirements. We really need your help, as an MSI member, in stating how the HQL has adversely affected you and your family. The requirements of HQL are explained on the attached documents. We need to know if any of these requirements have presented a barrier to the purchase, rent or receipt of a handgun by you, a MSI member. If so, please specifically identify the requirement and detail how it has acted as a barrier of your Second Amendment right to purchase a handgun. The “standing” legal requirements are personal to you and the details of how you are adversely affected are very important. So, please be as forthcoming and detailed as possible in describing how you have been adversely affected by the HQL requirements.
In the suit, we will likely have to identify our members who have been adversely affected by the HQL requirement. That does not and will not make you an actual party and it won’t cost you anything, but it will allow MSI itself to bring suit on behalf of you and its other members. Please note, that if you know someone who wants to buy a handgun, but who is deterred or prevented by the HQL requirements, please encourage them to join MSI and respond to this poll. Feel free to forward this email to any such person. The basic membership is only $20 and a person can join at our Website www.marylandshallissue.org. For example, if you own the handgun, but your spouse (or other adult family member) does not, and that spouse is not otherwise exempt from the training, that spouse will have to take the training and have a HQL before he/she will be able to “purchases, rent, or receive” a handgun. We need that person to join MSI and tell us about how HQL adversely affects them. We cannot represent non-MSI members in court, so actual membership is critical.
We need maximum participation in this poll. Please help and send your response to as soon as possible.
Just briefly, you will recall that SB 281 created the HQL requirements in Section 5-117.1 of the Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code. It basically provides that a “person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person” has the HQL (unless exempted as a LEO or active or retired military with ID).
There are numerous requirements associated with the HQL. First, unless exempted, a person must take a training course of at least 4 hours taught by a state certified instructor. The Maryland State Police, in its interpreting regulations, has provided that this course must include an operation and handling orientation component that demonstrates the applicant's safe operation and handling of a firearm, “including a practice component in which the applicant safely fires at least one round of live ammunition.” That’s in the Code of Maryland Regulations, Title 29, Subchapter 03, Chapter 01, Section .29, (abbreviated as COMAR 29.03.01.29). That means that your instructor must have legitimate access to a range that allows this sort of instruction. Most ranges are private and their rules may not allow such instruction be given at the range. The following persons are exempted from the training requirement: (a) persons who have a state-issued Hunter Safety Card, (b) certified handgun instructors, (c) honorably discharged members of the military, (d) armored car employees who have a wear and carry permit, and (e) persons who already “lawfully owns a regulated firearm” (e.g., a handgun). While the MSP maintains an on-line list of instructors, https://emdsp.mdsp.org/verification, it is up to a person to find that list (on-line), locate an instructor, arrange for and take the training and then pay for it. The instructors are all private individuals or companies and the cost may vary from instructor to instructor. The State will not provide the training or instructors. The training is good for only three years, during which time you must complete your application for the HQL. Otherwise, you must retake the training.
Second, even if you are exempt from the training requirement, you still have to apply for the HQL in order to purchase, rent or receive a handgun. That means, for example, if you already own a handgun (and are thus training exempt) you will nonetheless need to have the HQL before you purchase, rent or receive another handgun. The application for the HQL is done all on line at a Maryland State Police website, http://www.mdsp.org/Organization/Pages/CriminalInvestigationBureau/LicensingDivision/Firearms/HandgunQualificationLicense.aspx where you must file out an on-line application and electronically submit proof of training (a certificate given you by the training instructor) and satisfy the other requirements. Because it can be done only on-line, you must have access to a computer and Internet access. Unless the instructor gave you an electronic certificate, you must have access to a scanner and scanning software to create an electronic copy of any training certificate. You must then create an account with the MSP at https://emdsp.mdsp.org/egov/Login.aspx That Website advises that it is compatible only with Internet Explorer browser, which means your computer must be a Windows computer, not an Apple computer, such as a Mac or Iphone or Ipad.
As part of that application, that applicant must provide “complete set of the applicant's legible fingerprints taken in a format approved by the Director of the Central Repository and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Such fingerprints can only be taken electronically, at a State approved fingerprinting service that you must locate and pay for. See http://pilot.msp.md.gov/Organization/Pages/CriminalInvestigationBureau/LicensingDivision/Fingerprinting.aspxhttp://pilot.msp.md.gov/Organization/Pages/CriminalInvestigationBureau/LicensingDivision/Fingerprinting.aspx The cost of fingerprinting and the associated back ground check is roughly $75.00, but may vary by the charges made by the scanning company. The actual cost of the application itself is $50.00, payable directly to the Maryland State Police with your application and can be remitted solely by credit card (which means you must have a credit card). You have only 3 days to submit your on-line application after your fingerprints have been taken, otherwise you must have your prints retaken, with an additional payment of fees.
Once your on-line application is completed, you must then wait for approval by the Maryland State Police. If you had to get training, the State Police will NOT contact the certified instructor, but rather the instructor is expected to log on to his instructor account at the State Police website and “verify” that you took the course. That means you must remember to ask the instructor to do so. The State Police then have 30 days to mail you your HQL card, assuming that they have found no errors in the application and you are otherwise not disqualified by state or federal law from possessing a handgun. The HQL itself is good for 10 years, after which time you can renew it by going through the whole process again (the renewal fee is $20).