Maryland Concealed Carry Law OK, 4th Circuit Rules

Posted March 21, 2013 in Editors Picks gun rights by

A pistol being put into the pocket of a man's jeans

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A Maryland “may issue” concealed carry law that was struck down by a district court last year has been restored by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appeals court said that it was not weighing in on whether Second Amendment rights extend outside the home; rather that the state law meets the scrutiny for restricting the right in the name of public safety regardless.

The lawsuit was originally brought by the Second Amendment Foundation on behalf of Raymond Woollard, whose carry permit was not renewed by the state because he could not “verify a threat beyond his residence.” He had originally obtained the permit after an attempted assault by his son-in-law in 2002.

The law requires that an applicant demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” in order to be issued a permit.

“The State has clearly demonstrated that the good-and-substantial-reason requirement advances the objectives of protecting public safety and preventing crime because it reduces the number of handguns carried in public,” the opinion reads. Maryland had argued that its restrictions fall within the standard of other public safety regulations.

The 2012 District Court decision had criticized the law for rationing the number of people allowed to carry guns. “Maryland’s ‘good and substantial reason’ requirement will not prevent those who meet it from having their guns taken from them, or from accidentally shooting themselves or others, or from suddenly turning to a life of crime,” that opinion states. “The Court finds that Maryland’s requirement of a ‘good and substantial reason’ for issuance of a handgun permit is insufficiently tailored to the State’s interest in public safety and crime prevention.”

Gun rights proponents were pleased. “The ‘good and substantial reason’ requirement was ruled to violate the Second Amendment,” wrote former NYU law professor David Kopel on the Volokh Conspiracy blog at the time of the District Court’s ruling. “The court held that the Second Amendment right is not limited to self-defense in the home.” Because Second Amendment rights are also considered to encompass hunting and militias, the court reasoned, its protections must necessarily extend to public places.

Now that the 4th District has reversed the decision, the case could be heading to the Supreme Court to decide once and for all on American’s right to carry outside the home.

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