Federal District Court Strikes Down Maryland’s Restrictive Concealed-Carry Law
By Melancton Smith • Monday March 5, 2012 2:13 PM PDT • 6 Comments
U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg, sitting in Maryland, has issued a ruling (Wollard v. Sheridan) in an interesting Second Amendment case. The State of Maryland requires applicants for concealed carry permits to demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” to carry the gun. Wollard wanted a permit because his home had been broken into, he had been attacked, and the burglar was now released from prison. Maryland said this was not a good enough reason to be issued a permit. The district court held that this regulation violated the Second Amendment. After making clear that the Second Amendment applied both inside and outside of homes, the court issued its core decision.
The requirement that a permit applicant demonstrate good and substantial reasons to carry a handgun does not, for example, advance the interests of public safety by ensuring that guns are kept out of the hands of those adjudged most likely to misuse them, such as criminals or the mentally ill. It does not ban handguns from places where the possibility of mayhem is most acute, such as schools, churches, government buildings, protest gatherings, or establishments that serve alcohol. It does not attempt to reduce accidents, as would a requirement that all permit applicants complete a safety course. It does not even, as some other States’ laws do, limit the carrying of handguns to persons deemed suitable by denying a permit to anyone whose conduct indicates that he or she is potentially a danger to the public if entrusted with a handgun. Rather, the regulation at issue is a rationing system.
A mere rationing system, the court continued, is not tailored to advance a substantial government interest. There was simply no “fit” between the regulation and the goal of public safety. Because the regulation impermissibly infringed on Wollard’s Second Amendment rights, the court struck down Maryland’s regulation.
Here we see how courts are applying Second Amendment rights recognized in Heller. Advocates of liberty should be pleased with this decision.