Correction to This Article
The article incorrectly said that in 2002 there were 4,405 Maryland residents with active permits to carry handguns. Actually, that was the number of permits issued that year by Maryland State Police. The total number of active permits in 2002, which the state says is not available, would be much higher. As the article pointed out, as of July 31 of this year, there were 47,471 active permits in the state.

Md. crime victim sues over denial to renew permit to carry concealed handgun

By Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 15, 2010

On a snowy Christmas Eve a few years ago, Raymond E. Woollard was watching television with his family when he heard someone tapping at the windows of his Baltimore County farmhouse.

It was not Santa.

At the sound of breaking glass, Woollard dashed to his bedroom for a shotgun, and the holiday evening quickly became one of the most frightening nights of his life.

There was a hand-to-hand struggle for the weapon, but Woollard, with help from his adult son, eventually subdued the 6-foot-2, 155-pound intruder at gunpoint. Then they waited for more than an hour for police to find their way, on icy back roads, to the home, about 25 miles south of the Pennsylvania border.

That night made Woollard a crime victim for the first time in his life and also one of a select few Maryland residents to receive a license to carry a concealed handgun. But to Woollard's surprise, Maryland State Police denied his request last year to renew the permit, saying they thought the danger to his life had passed.

The agency said it was "because I hadn't been attacked" again, Woollard said in an interview. "They said, 'If you have any problems, you let us know.' "

Instead, Woollard filed a federal lawsuit July 29 to get his permit back, becoming the first person to challenge Maryland's gun control laws in the wake of two landmark Supreme Court decisions that have recalibrated the battle over gun rights and opened the doors to such challenges nationwide. The first, District of Columbia v. Heller, recognized individuals' Second Amendment right to own firearms and struck down the federal city's 32-year-old ban on handguns; the second, McDonald v. Chicago, held that the right also applies to other state and local governments.

Woollard, 62, of the Hampstead area, contends that the right to bear a firearm for self-defense is so paramount that a state agency should not be able to arbitrarily deny it.

"It's up to me. Do you have to show a reason to have a driver's license?" Woollard said. Under current law, the only people likely to carry guns are criminals who do not follow the law anyway, Woollard said. "And the police, as good as they are, show up after the fact."

After the 2002 break-in, Woollard said, he and his family waited 2 1/2 hours for police to arrive. Cpl. Michael Hill, a Baltimore County police spokesman, said records show that the 911 call came in at 9:52 p.m. and that because of icy roads, holiday staffing and the rural location, officers did not arrive until about 11.

The Second Amendment Foundation, a Bellevue, Wash.-based nonprofit group that was a plaintiff in McDonald v. Chicago has joined Woollard's lawsuit against the state police and the Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board. The lawsuit says that people should not have to prove "a good and substantial reason," as required by Maryland law, to exercise a fundamental constitutional right.

"I think that what's going to happen now is, we're going to start to test where these boundaries lie in what is a 'reasonable' and an 'unreasonable' regulation," said Dave Workman, a spokesman for the Second Amendment Foundation, which is challenging similar discretionary regulations in New York and North Carolina.

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