U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg focused on one portion of Maryland law that requires residents to show they have a “good and substantial reason” to carry a gun, such as a “precaution against apprehended danger.” Legg found that the requirement, kicking in alongside background checks, was too broad and said it violates the Second Amendment.
“The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home,” Legg wrote in a 23-page ruling signed Friday.
The judge added that the requirement for issuing a handgun permit amounts to a “rationing system” to limit the number of guns carried outside the home. “The law impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment,” he wrote.
The case centered on a Navy veteran, Raymond Woollard, who was denied a handgun permit in 2009.
In 2002, Woollard’s son-in-law broke into Woollard’s rural Baltimore County home, high on drugs and looking for car keys so he could drive to Baltimore and get more drugs, Legg wrote. Woollard pointed a shotgun at his son-in-law, who managed to wrestle it away before being subdued by Woollard’s son, who also pointed a gun at the intruder.
Woollard applied for and was granted a permit to carry a handgun, according to the ruling. He was allowed to renew his permit in 2006, shortly after his son-in-law was released from prison, the judge wrote. But three years later, his renewal was denied, prompting him to appeal to the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board.
The board ruled that Woollard had “not demonstrated a good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger in the state of Maryland.”
In the summer of 2010, Woollard sued.
Under state law, applicants for a carry permit must show, among other things, that they are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, don’t have a history of violence and haven’t been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than a year behind bars. Those requirements still stand.
Legg’s ruling only upended the “good and substantial reason” requirement. In his ruling, he said Maryland State Police have issued permits to people in professions that may carry a risk, such as armored-car drivers, security guards, police officers and prosecutors. Permits also go to those who can show they need “personal protection.”
The judge wrote that the requirement doesn’t ensure that guns are kept away from people “most likely to misuse them,” criminals or the mentally ill, for instance. Nor, he wrote, does it ban guns in churches, government buildings or places where the “possibility of mayhem is most acute.”