Maryland Handgun Permit Restrictions Found Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

Happy details from the Associated Press:

Maryland’s requirement that residents show a “good and substantial reason” to get a handgun permit is unconstitutional, according to a federal judge’s opinion filed Monday.

States can channel the way their residents exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms, but because Maryland’s goal was to minimize the number of firearms carried outside homes by limiting the privilege to those who could demonstrate “good reason,” it had turned into a rationing system, infringing upon residents’ rights, U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg wrote.

“A citizen may not be required to offer a `good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” he wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

Plaintiff Raymond Woollard obtained a handgun permit after fighting with an intruder in his Hampstead home in 2002, but was denied a renewal in 2009 because he could not show he had been subject to “threats occurring beyond his residence.” Woollard appealed, but was rejected by the review board, which found he hadn’t demonstrated a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun as a reasonable precaution. The suit filed in 2010 claimed that Maryland didn’t have a reason to deny the renewal and wrongly put the burden on Woollard to show why he still needed to carry a gun.

The Second Amendment Foundation sponsored the suit, and Woollard's lawyer was Second Amendment vindicator Alan Gura, who also won the Heller and McDonald suits at the Supreme Court that established our right to own commonly used weapons for self-defense in the home, against both federal and state encroachment. By moving the Second Amendment argument here beyond the home, this case promises to help expand Second Amendment rights even beyond the Heller and McDonald standard.

My July 2009 interview with Gura. My 2008 book on the Heller case, Gun Control on Trial.

UPDATE: Thanks commenter Chris Brennan: The full decision.

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  • Mainer||

    A citizen may not be required to offer a `good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” he wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

    Well Said.

  • sarcasmic||

    A judge that subscribes to natural rights?

    I never!

  • wareagle||

    can you believe it...a judge who says people don't have to explain why they have the right to something; the existence of the right is good enough.

  • WTF||

    Maybe now they can go after New Jersey, which also has the requirement to show a 'good reason' why you need to carry before they will allow you to have a permit.

  • sarcasmic||

    Where I'm at you don't have to give them good reason.
    But they can deny you for most any reason.
    Like if you have anything other than a minor traffic violation on your record, no permit for you.

  • Almanian Gun Permit Nazi||

    No shoot for you! One year!

    *stamps documents DENIED*

  • ||

    Merely forcing people to pay for permission to exercise this right is unconstitutional. At least according to the Constitution.

  • ||

    They're not paying for permission, they're paying for background checks and training etc., which the state has a compelling interest in making sure of. You don't want mental patients or people who don't know how to safely use their firearm walking the streets with 44Mag revolvers on their belts.

    As long as the cost isn't unduly burdensome there's no problem with it.

  • ||

    They're not paying for permission, they're paying for background checks and training etc., which the state has a compelling interest in making sure of.

    If the state's interest is so fucking compelling, it can pay for it out of the general fund.

    After all, that bureaucratic scurrying around is supposed to be for the Public Good, right? So let the Public pay for it.

  • ||

    I suppose fees for using state parks and getting a drivers license and registration are right out, too?

    And do recall the Public has no money. The Public = taxpayers, who apparently are not your friends today.

    User fees > taxes

  • JM||

    State parks, vehicles, etc, aren't an issue of compelling state interest, to use your words. They are issue of individual interest, which means they're probably on the other side of the "user fee" equation.

  • ||

    Of course regulating vehicles on the public roads are a compelling state interest. Just like firearms in public places (note I'm not arguing for any requirements on having a gun in the home or business or private property).

  • ||

    I happen to not be a fan of "fees" in connection with any requirement that the State imposes to burden any of your basic human-type rights, like travel, self-defense, etc.

    Charging a fee is no different than requiring someone to pay for permission. And, if you have to pay for permission to do X, you have no right to do X.

    So, yeah, if the state wants to exercise some oversight on your basic rights, it should only do so for the (ahem) "public welfare". And, since the oversight is solely for the public's benefit, it should have to compete for the limited supply of public funds.

    And, yes, it all ultimately comes out of the public's pocket. But who, how much, when, and why still matter.

  • Almanian||

    Fucking poll taxes - how do they work?

    I guess that's a question for Paul Mooney on "Ask A Black Guy".

    Man I miss Chappelle's Show....

    PS RAAAAAAAAAAAACIST!

  • ||

    So every taxpayer should have to pay for some bozo to learn how to use his AR-15 in public? Screw that.

    We're not talking about fees that will prevent people from exercising their rights. A cheap rifle costs 10x as much as an NRA rifle training class.

  • ||

    I mean, should the taxpayers pay for people to learn how to hunt safely? Or for driving classes?

  • R||

    No, but the state should at least not require training in order to exercise a right.

    As for right now, there are four states (Alaska, Arizona, Wyoming and Vermont) that require no permit and require no training in order to carry a gun in any manner, there are a further 22 states that allow open carry without a license, but require a permit for concealed carry, and none of them seem to have any problems because of it.

  • R||

    I should also mention that a number of states that require a license for concealed carry do not require training, only that the applicant pay a fee and submit to a background check. There have not been any identifiable problems in any of those states, either.

  • sarcasmic||

    You don't want mental patients or people who don't know how to safely use their firearm walking the streets with 44Mag revolvers on their belts.

    Laws like that don't stop stupid people from doing stupid things.

    They penalize those who otherwise follow the law, and embolden those who do not.

  • ||

    There are plenty of people who don't want to break the law AND are too lazy to take a firearms training course. Those are the people I'm targeting.

  • Corey||

    "You don't want mental patients..."

    Problem is sanity is very subjective. There are a lot of Leftists who would say that you're crazy for simply wanting to own a gun.

  • ||

    You don't want mental patients or people who don't know how to safely use their firearm walking the streets with 44Mag revolvers on their belts.

    Stop bad-mouthing America's brave police officers.

  • A Serious Man||

    Thread-winner.

  • ||

    You don't want mental patients or people who don't know how to safely use their firearm walking the streets with 44Mag revolvers on their belts.

    You know, now that I think about it, how many lives have been saved by ensuring that only those individuals not bent on mass murder are allowed to carry guns? You've really helped me see this issue in a whole new light, and I thank you for that.

  • ||

    Actually, here my concern is law-abiding citizens who lack training. Obviously permit requirements don't prevent people bent on harming others from doing so, but you don't have to have bad intentions to kill an innocent with a firearm you don't know how to use.

    I'm not talking the astronomical fees charged by DC and NYC which are really intended as a barrier to entry; I'm talking about $30-$40 and 5 hours for an NRA basic training course. It's not an undue burden for a law-abiding citizen; the gun is probably going to cost you 10x as much.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    5 hours for gun training is stupid. My father taught me every rule you need in about 5 minutes.

  • db||

    In no particular order:

    1. Every firearm is always loaded
    2. Never point a firearm at anything you do not intend to and have a right to destroy.
    3. Be sure of your target and your backstop
    4. Know the correct ammunition for your gun
    5. Know what to do in case of a misfire--immediate action drills can save your life.
    6. Understand how your firearm functions and how to use it.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    So now you expect that to exercise a fundamental right, we need training?

    Uh, fuck you?

  • ||

    You don't want mental patients or people who don't know how to safely use their firearm walking the streets with 44Mag revolvers on their belts, unless they're wearing a badge.

  • ||

    damn you SugarFree @ 3:46pm

  • Jeffersonian||

    Awesome, just awesome.

  • JM||

    Yeah, as a MD resident, I'm fking speechless with being happy about it.

  • ||

    I'm... shocked, but a little worried. Will parts of Baltimore become dangerous now?

  • shrike||

    Why does Welch not have the balls to defend liberty?

    Serious question.

    Doherty does.

  • ||

    So, at this point, its harder to gain ownership of a gun than it is to carry one concealed once you have ownership, yes? Seems like ownership permitting restrictions are ripe for another round of lawsuits.

  • JM||

    Well, Brett, we do have the mandatory waiting period, which probably wouldn't pass the intermediate testing, and the "one gun a month" stuff, which is rather silly as you can just apply as a collector in MD and get around that (but it looks good to the gun banning types). Overall, though, you're probably right.

  • A Serious Man||

    I find it satisfyingly ironic that the left is using Jim Crow-tactics to try and circumvent the people's Second Amendment rights to own a gun.

    The right to vote or not have the government discriminate against you is no more sacred than the right to own a firearm. Therefore they should both be defended with equal vigor.

  • db||

    You people just don't understand the seriousness of the gun epidemic in the U.S. Do you know how much water damage is caused by guns every year?

  • Almanian||

    I heard it's a gun PANdemic.

    Which sounds even worse...

  • NoVAHockey||

    It is contagious. A friend bought a new gun. I felt this overwhelming urge to buy a new one too. I think it's airborne.

  • ||

    I haven't bought one for a few months, and the urge is rising. Must...get...new...gun...

  • anon||

    Yeah epi, I'm either getting that new sig 1911 or the S&W pro series 1911 as soon as my concealed carry is renewed. mmMmm.

  • wayne||

    Yeah, all your talk a few weeks ago about a new .22LR semi auto has me jonesin' for one too. I already own a Ruger 22/45 (I think that is what it's called) and it's cool and super accurate, but I am seriously considering buying a delicious new, different one.

  • ||

    You know you want the Ruger Charger. Give in to your urges.

  • db||

    This might be the first internet-communicable disease. Now I feel like buying a new gun.

  • POTUS ||

    looks like I need to appoint one more czar.

  • R||

    I ALWAYS feel like buying a new gun. Unfortunately, my bank account is usually beating me upside the head and yelling, "No!"

  • anon||

    Maryland citizen: "May I please have a firearm?"

    Maryland bureaucrat: "Why?"

    Maryland citizen: "Fuck you, that's why."

    Brilliant.

  • db||

    PA CCW license applications require one to enter a "reason for carry." I've been told that people who enter anything other than "self defense" are denied permits because things like collecting don't require permits. I don't know if this is true because i have no first or secondhand knowledge of anyone being denied a permit for this reason. PA being a shall-issue state, it seems the point is moot. I've never tried writing in "fuck you" for the reason though.

  • The IRS||

    I've never tried writing in "fuck you" for the reason though.

    Go ahead. Make my day.

  • wareagle||

    would "see: Constitution, 2nd Amendment" work?

  • ||

    That's bull. Even if you're just a target shooter, you need a LTCF to be allowed to stop anywhere along the way to the range with your firearm in the vehicle.

  • ||

    And like your experience, I've never heard of anyone being denied for that reason either.

  • ||

    I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly Allegheny Co. processed my application though. I had my "yellow card" in less than a week, despite the fact that state law allows them to wait 45 business days.

  • db||

    My first PA permit, issued in 1995, took about a month to come back. Since then, renewals are same day service.

  • Mainer||

    In the little rural New Hampshire town I've moved to, the local police chief was very helpful in processing CCW's for my wife and myself....almost like something we are entitled to, and it was his job to help.

  • ||

    and it was his job to help Serve

  • ||

    my first police chief, a very interesting man. about 6'10, never lifted a weight in his life but so strong he could literally pull a door from its hinges, and who was very soft spoken, friendly, a good listener --- the perfect small town cop told me thing

    "try to see to it that every day when you finish your shift that you left the town a better place than when you started it"

    that, to me, is what service is about

  • John C. Randolph||

    So, with a mentor like that, how did you end up as an apologist for routine violations of civil rights?

    -jcr

  • ||

    lol.

  • ||

    The opinion itself can be found here: http://ia600501.us.archive.org.....2.52.0.pdf

  • protefeed||

    This judge would prolly be an improvement over 8, possibly 9 SCOTUS justices.

  • protefeed||

    Well, maybe not, after reading the decision, including this: "Woollard argues that, because the right to keep and bear arms is ―fundamental‖ within the meaning of Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence, the challenged law must be ―given the most exacting scrutiny.‖ See Clark v. Jeter, 486 U.S. 456, 461 (1988). Of course, to accept this theory would be to erase, in one broad stroke, the careful and sensible distinctions that the Fourth Circuit and other courts have drawn between core and non-core Second Amendment protections and to ignore the principle that differing levels of scrutiny are appropriate to each. The Court declines such an approach.13"

    Fuck "careful and sensible distinctions" of "core and non-core" 2A rights. They are ALL core rights, which should not be violated at all.

  • ||

    Is lying a core speech right?

  • Brendan||

    Yes.

  • ||

    "you said you'd kill me last"
    ahnold: "i lied. it's a core constitutional right"

    that would have been awesome

  • DaveS||

    I expect the response from the Maryland Legislature will be to eliminate CCW entirely.

  • Michael Hamilton||

    District->Circuit->Circuit Court of Appeals->SCOTUS? Anyone want to correct, expand on that order?

  • ||

    Never apply for a gun permit. I never have. I get my guns under the table. When martial law comes to America the first thing the local military authorities will do is look up all CHL holders and other firearms registries. Known gun owners will be the first people to be rounded up as potential troublemakers.

  • ||

    the good reason thing is a perfect example of grossly abusable arbitrary govt. power.

    when i was a reserve cop in MASS, i lived in a small town (not the one i worked in). i applied for a permit to carry.

    in MA, there were two permits 1) protection of life and property (carry basically anywhere) 2) target (which b asically allowed you to carry to an from a range).

    i got denied. the chief in this town was a liberal NYC transplant and said he couldn't see a "justified NEED to carry a gun" in my case.

    i promptly got a rental in the town i worked in. chief was very pro-gun. he pretty much issued them to everybody who asked assuming they weren't know troublemaker in his community

    the idea that a police chief should have this kind of power is ABSURD.

  • db||

    This kind of abuse led to PA becoming a shall issue state back in the 1990s.

  • ||

    yea. "shall issue" is the WORST kind of arbitrary govt. power, cronyism system that allows friend of the govt/chief get special favor
    this is a matter of life and death. it should not be at the whim of some copocrat beholden to the mayor

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