Maryland Handgun Permit Restrictions Found Unconstitutional by Federal Judge
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.
UPDATE: Thanks commenter Chris Brennan: The full decision.