When someone wants to legally pack heat, the laws applicable to the concealed carry of a firearm typically will fall into one of three types: "shall issue," "may issue," and no permit laws. Maryland is one of ten "may issue" states, meaning when a gun owner wants a concealed carry permit, the state has the discretion to deny a permit.
Raymond Woollard sought a permit in 2002, after his son-in-law broke into his house in Baltimore County. Woollard and his son subdued the intruder with two legally possessed guns. He subsequently obtained a concealed carry permit. While his first renewal was approved, a second renewal was denied in 2009, as was the subsequent appeal, reports The Washington Post.
In Maryland, one must demonstrate a "good and substantial reason" for needing a permit in order to legally carry a weapon. In March, a lower court judge ruled that Maryland's law was unconstitutional because the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends beyond the home and Maryland's "good and substantial" reason restriction was overly broad.
Self-Defense Outside the Home?
The lower court's decision heavily referenced a concurrence in another Fourth Circuit case, Masciandaro, which itself quoted both Heller and Eugene Volokh. In short, the right to bear arms applies to self-defense, militia, and hunting. These rights cannot, by definition, merely exist inside the home and "self-defense has to take place wherever [a] person happens to be."
A Reasonable Restriction?
In Heller, SCOTUS punted on deciding an appropriate level of scrutiny, stating that the regulation failed under all three levels typically used in constitutional cases. They did eventually dismiss the rational basis test.
That leaves strict versus intermediate scrutiny. Masciandaro stated that intermediate scrutiny should apply to matters outside the home, while strict scrutiny should apply to gun issues inside the home.
The legitimate state interest is obvious in this case. Maryland wants to prevent crime and increase public safety. However, the lower court ruled that the means chosen were overbroad. The purpose, as the State conceded, was to act as a quota on the number of guns in circulation. Also, in addition to the constitutional right to self-defense, one must demonstrate an additional good reason for a permit.
"A law that burdens the exercise of an enumerated constitutional right by simply making that right more difficult to exercise cannot be considered 'reasonably adapted' to a government interest, no matter how substantial that interest may be."
The court gave examples of permissible regulations, such as barring felon possession, barring guns in schools and airports, and requiring safety courses.
The lower court's decision was stayed until the Federal Circuit could review the decision. On Wednesday, Alan Gura argued the case in front of a three judge panel. He was the attorney behind the Heller and McDonald decisions. Should the Fourth Circuit affirm the decision, a SCOTUS appeal is a near-certainty.
- Gansler to defend Maryland's concealed-carry gun law (Washington Times)
- Fourth Circuit to Gun Shop: Break the Law Before Fighting It (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)
- Protective Order Not Enforced, But In Force? No Gun for You! (FindLaw's Fourth Circuit Blog)