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Judge consolidates 2 gun lawsuits against Md., including from NRA

Jack Hogan//July 14, 2023

Judge consolidates 2 gun lawsuits against Md., including from NRA

By Jack Hogan

//July 14, 2023

A federal judge has consolidated two lawsuits against the administration of Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, including one from the National Rifle Association, over a new gun law the Democrat signed in May.

The Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, part of the NRA, and the gun rights group Maryland Shall Issue, both filed suit on the day Moore signed restrictions for where people can bring firearms.

The organizations are seeking an injunction barring the state from enforcing the new restrictions.

Attorney and Maryland Shall Issue President Mark Pennak said the memorandum from U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III won’t hinder his organization’s case.

“It’s a nothingburger,” Pennak said in a phone interview. “It makes it easier to administer the case. … A decision in one case doesn’t necessarily decide another.”

Joining the association’s lawsuit is Susannah Warner Kipke, owner of Mrs. Kipke’s Secure Gun Storage in Millersville and wife of state Del. Nic Kipke, an Anne Arundel County Republican.

Beginning Oct. 1, Marylanders will be prohibited from wearing, carrying or transporting a gun in public places like school grounds, health care buildings, government or public facilities, and certain event sites.

Maryland Shall Issue has taken issue with the state banning guns in mass transit facilities and at state parks and forests, among other parts of the law.

It will also be against the law for someone to bring a gun into someone else’s home or onto their property without permission.

Moore has signed off on tighter restrictions for who is eligible for a concealed carry permit, though that legislation is not part of the lawsuits.

Current and retired police and law enforcement officers, correctional officers and certain military service members will be among those exempt from some of the new restrictions.

After the state filed a motion in May to consolidate the two cases, Maryland Shall Issue filed an opposition, which Pennak said was meant to highlight for the judge the differences in the two cases, not so much to object to consolidating them.

Attorneys in the Maryland Shall Issue case, Novotny, et al., v. Wes Moore, et al., argued in their opposition to consolidating that the constitutional claims in Kipke, et al., v. Wes Moore, et al., presented complexities that “may cause delay,” according to the judge.

Russell, though, agreed with the state, in that both cases are about whether the state’s new law is constitutional and that consolidation would “serve the interest of judicial convenience and economy and promote a speedy resolution.”

In his memorandum, Russell wrote that the Kipke case will be the lead.

An attorney for Kipke and the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, John Parker Sweeney of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP in Washington, D.C, could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Neither the lead attorney for the Office of the Attorney General nor a spokesperson for Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown could immediately be reached for comment.

The state is scheduled to respond to the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association’s request for a preliminary injunction by July 28.

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