The New American
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
A federal judge struck down a Maryland law requiring individuals to prove that they have “good and substantial reason” for seeking a handgun carry permit from the state.
“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” wrote U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”
The suit was brought by Navy veteran Raymond Woollard, who lives on a farm in rural Baltimore County. On December 24, 2002, Woollard’s son-in-law, Kris Lee Abbott, on a drug-induced high broke into Woollard’s house during a family gathering in search of his wife’s car keys so he could go buy more drugs. Woollard momentarily stopped Abbott by aiming a shotgun at him, but Abbott wrested the gun away from him, only to be halted again by Woollard’s son, who also had a gun. Woollard and his son then kept Abbott at bay until the police arrived two-and-a-half hours later.
Abbott was convicted of first degree burglary and put on probation. He was later incarcerated for violating his probation.
Woollard, who now knew that he could not count on the police to come to his aid in an emergency, applied for a handgun carry permit in 2003. The permit was granted, as was Woollard’s request to renew it three years later, just after Abbott was released from prison. However, when Woollard attempted to renew his permit again in 2009, his request was denied by the Maryland state police on the basis that he had not demonstrated to their satisfaction that he was in danger. His appeals were denied on the same basis.
At that point he sued the State Police Secretary and the Handgun Permit Review Board. He was represented by attorney Alan Gura of the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), who has argued — and won — two significant gun rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court: District of Columbia v. Heller(2008), in which the court found that the Constitution guarantees an individual’s right to bear arms; andMcDonald v. City of Chicago (2010), in which the court found that the Second Amendment applies to the states.
Relying in part on those two decisions, Judge Legg held that the Maryland law “impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment” by imposing “a rationing system” that “aims … simply to reduce the total number of firearms carried outside the home by limiting the privilege to those who can demonstrate ‘good reason’ beyond a general desire for self-defense.”
A d v e r t i s e m e n t
A law that burdens the exercise of an enumerated constitutional right by simply making that right more difficult to exercise cannot be considered “reasonably adapted” to a government interest, no matter how substantial that interest may be. Maryland‘s goal of “minimizing the proliferation of handguns among those who do not have a demonstrated need for them,”… is not a permissible method of preventing crime or ensuring public safety; it burdens the right too broadly. Those who drafted and ratified the Second Amendment surely knew that the right they were enshrining carried a risk of misuse, and states have considerable latitude to channel the exercise of the right in ways that will minimize that risk. States may not, however, seek to reduce the danger by means of widespread curtailment of the right itself.
He also pointed out that “issuing permits specifically to those applicants who can demonstrate an increased likelihood that they may need a firearm would seem a strange way to allay Defendants‘ fear that ‘when handguns are in the possession of potential victims of crime, their decision to use them in a public setting may actually increase the risk of serious injury or death to themselves or others’” because this policy “puts firearms in the hands of those most likely to use them in a violent situation.” (Emphasis in original.)
- Maryland Handgun Permit Restrictions Found Unconstitutional by Federal Judge (reason.com)
- Right to carry victory in Maryland: Woollard v. Sheridan (volokh.com)
- Md. Handgun Law Found Unconstitutional (washington.cbslocal.com)
- U.S. District Court Upholds Right To Conceal In Maryland (thedaleygator.wordpress.com)
- Md. Gun Law Found Unconstitutional (theknifepoint.wordpress.com)
- Maryland’s Gun Law Unconstitutional (lashawnbarber.com)
- Md. Gun Law Found Unconstitutional (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: Victory in Woollard, MD Case Against Justifiable Need Requirement for Conceale… (pjmedia.com)
- (“You had better forget all about the word “inalienable,” because an expanding State has no use for speed-bump “rights” which limit its ability to act”) Nothing is inalienable (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Federal Judge Says Gun Owners Need Not Provide ‘good Reason,’ Rules Maryland Law Unconstitutional | Fox News (genomega1.wordpress.com)