Today the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in the case of Raymond Woollard v. Denis Gallagher, ruled that Maryland’s procedure for issuing a permit to carry a handgun is constitutional.
The Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code §5-303 requires that “A person shall have a permit issued under this subtitle before the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun.” Section 5-306 outlines the qualifications for receiving such a permit, which includes the following requirements:
- (a)(5) based on an investigation:
- (i) [the applicant] has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another; and
- (ii) [the applicant] has a good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.
Raymond Woollard challegened the state’s refusal to reissue his handgun permit and filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. On March 2, 2012, District Judge Benson Everett Legg struck down requirement to show a “good and substantial reason” as a violation of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Today, March 21, 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit reversed the lower court and determined that the “good and substantial reason” requirement is constitutional. In doing so, the Court held:
Although we assume that Appellee Woollard’s Second Amendment right is burdened by the good-and-substantial-reason requirement, we further conclude that such burden is constitutionally permissible. That is, under the applicable intermediate scrutiny standard, the State has demonstrated that the good-and-substantial-reason requirement is reasonably adapted to Maryland’s significant interests in protecting public safety and preventing crime.
The Court applied the intermediate scrutiny standard to the “good and substantial reason” requirement, i.e., the Court asked whether the requirement is “reasonably adapted to a substantial governmental interest.”
In determining that the state’s interest was a substantial one, the Court cited to “codified legislative findings” in Maryland that:
- the number of violent crimes committed in the State has increased alarmingly in recent years;
- a high percentage of violent crimes committed in the State involves the use of handguns;
- the result is a substantial increase in the number of deaths and injuries largely traceable to the carrying of handguns in public places by criminals;
- current law has not been effective in curbing the more frequent use of handguns in committing crime; and
- additional regulations on the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns are necessary to preserve the peace and tranquility of the State and to protect the rights and liberties of the public.
Clearly, if these are the substantial interests of the state, they weigh in favor of, and not against, the carrying of firearms by the general public. The state acknowledges that crime is up, crimes are committed with handguns, and criminals with handguns kill people. The criminals obviously have guns and are not deterred by any permitting requirement. Law abiding Marylanders are left to the mercy of the criminals, who can attack with impunity knowing that their victims are unarmed.
Not only did the Court adopt the state’s “substantial interests” in support of its conclusion, it went on to determine that the “good and substantial reason” requirement was reasonably adapted, citing the following objectives advanced by the state:
- Decreasing the availability of handguns to criminals via theft;
- Lessening the likelihood that a basic confrontation between individuals would turn deadly;
- Averting the confusion that can result from the presence of a third person with a handgun during a confrontation between a police officer and a criminal suspect;
- Curtailing the presence of handguns during routine police-citizen encounters.
- Reducing the number of handgun sightings that must be investigated.
- Facilitating the identification of those persons carrying handguns who pose a menace.
In short, the Court concluded that law abiding Marylanders are frightened, angry people incapable of resisting the urge to kill simply because they carry a firearm on their person. Furthermore, it is clear that the overwhelming goal of the state is to disarm Marylanders to make them easier to control by the state and submissive to the will of state officers, who, not surprisingly, carry firearms on their person.
Under this law, you have no right to protect yourself outside of your home in Maryland. Not only does the permit require photographs, fingerprints, background checks, a written application, and payment of various fees, you must show “documented evidence of recent threats, robberies, and/or assaults, supported by official police reports or notarized statements from witnesses.” Even then, you must wait up to 90 days for a decision.
By: John R. Griffin