The ruling brought praise from Del. Mike Smigiel, R-Cecil, a strong proponent of Second Amendment gun rights.
“The citizens of Maryland have finally been granted freedom from the unconstitutional burden of needing to prove they have a “good and substantial cause” to carry a firearm when exercising their Second Amendment rights,” said Smigiel in a statement released yesterday. “The [judge] issued an order releasing the stay of his finding…that Maryland’s “good and substantial cause” standard is an unconstitutional burden placed on Maryland citizens.”
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg lifted a stay he granted the Maryland Attorney General in March — meant to delay enforcement of the ruling until a challenge had been heard in 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The handgun law was declared unconstitutional by the US District Court in Maryland in 2010 after Baltimore County resident Raymond Woollard was denied a concealed handgun permit for protection from his violent son-in-law in 2009. Woollard had previously been granted a permit in 2003, and again in 2006 when Woollard’s son-in-law was released from prison.
But the Maryland State Police denied renewal of his permit in 2009 because Woollard could not document threats from his son-in-law with police reports or court records. He appealed the decision to the Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board and was denied again.
Woollard “had not submitted any documentation to verify threats occurring beyond his residence, where he can already legally carry a handgun,” the Review Board concluded when they denied his appeal for a permit.
The board’s decision was successfully challenged by Woollard with the help of a $10,000 check from Second Amendment Foundation of Bellevue, WA.
“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,” Legg wrote in his March ruling. “The law impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment. “
“I have argued for the last ten years in the State Legislature that this burden is arbitrarily and capriciously applied by the Maryland State Police because by their own admission, they have no definition of what is a “good and substantial cause,”” Smigiel wrote.
Smigiel is certain liberal lawmakers will put “legislative hurdles in the way of persons trying to exercise the Constitutional rights just recognized by the court.”
He said Senator Brian Frosh, chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and now candidate for Maryland Attorney General, will “try to put up near impossible, or very burdensome, training requirements for anyone wishing to obtain a permit to carry a concealed firearm,” Smigiel wrote. “The liberals will attempt to put as many restrictions on the locations one can carry a firearm as possible.”
Smigiel reflected on the recent mass killings in an Aurora, Colorado movie theatre where guns were prohibited, even for licensed permit holders. He implied that further gun restrictions in Maryland would make citizens defenseless prey against the “wolfs of the world.”
“Maryland legislators should understand the consequences of prohibiting firearms being carried by law abiding, well trained, citizens in public areas [that] will be a lure to the wolfs of this world,” Smigiel written statement said. “The horrible human tragedy that happened in Aurora was the act of an evil or deranged person [and] that has more to say about our failure to address mental health issues than it has to say about the Second Amendment.”
Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, joined Smigiel in applauding the court’s ruling and said Maryland’s gun laws were too restrictive.
“You should not have to prove you’re in danger to exercise your constitutional rights under the Second Amendment,” Jacobs said.
The Maryland State Police said they would continue to apply the standard of “good and substantial reason” to the review of handgun carry permit applications until Aug. 7, when the stay is legally lifted, said MSP Communications Officer Greg Shipley. He said the state would then abide by the court’s recent ruling.
It is more than likely that Attorney General Doug Gansler will seek a stay from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until they have ruled on the lower court’s decision.
Of the 5,200 handgun applications reviewed last year, less than 200 were denied under the “good and substantial cause” rule.
UPDATED: Frosh responded late Wednesday to the issue of training requirements and said proper training was a matter of public safety and the safety of the permit holder.
“People who carry concealed weapons in public must have proper training,” Frosh said in email. “The last thing anyone wants is for someone carrying a handgun to be disarmed or shot by an assailant. We need to ensure that proper training is a requirement for concealed carry.”