Federal Appeals Court to Debate Maryland’s “Good and Substantial Reason” to Carry Concealed

In Maryland one needs to provide the state with a “good and substantial reason” to carry a concealed firearm, which is a requirement that doesn’t seem to fit a state nicknamed the “Free State.”

Putting that criticism aside, here’s what a federal judge had to say about the requirement in a ruling this past March.

“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg wrote in his ruling. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

Judge Legg added, “Concealed carry statutes that are so discretionary in nature as to be arbitrary do not pass constitutional muster.”

AG-Gansler In short, the “good and substantial reason” requirement is bogus. 

Of course though, pro-gun control forces in Maryland were not willing to accept Judge Legg’s ruling.  So they, in particular the state Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, appealed the decision to the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, which is scheduled to hear arguments on the case (Woollard v. Sheridan) on Wednesday. 

Attorney Gansler plans to argue that the intent of the requirement is to keep the public safe and to help reduce Maryland’s high crime rate.

“Many assaults arise from petty disputes, and the presence of handguns greatly increases the likelihood that the disputes will become violent and deadly,” Gansler’s argument filed with the court states.

Representing the plaintiff in the case, Raymond Woollard, a Navy veteran who had his CCW permit revoked by the state’s Handgun Permit Review board because he failed to show a “good and substantial reason to wear, carry or transport a handgun as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger,” is Second Amendment Foundation super attorney Alan Gura. 

Gura was the attorney who argued the landmark Heller case (which struck down the D.C. handgun ban and explicated that self-defense within the home is covered under the 2nd Amendment) and represented the SAF in the Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. Chicago (which extended the Heller ruling to the states). 

Alan Gura“People have the right to carry weapons of self-defense,” Gura told the Washington Times in the days leading up to the appeals hearing.  “The state cannot require a special need or cause to do so. It is a right that is being regulated.”

Though, regardless of how the appellate court rules, either party is likely to file an appeal to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“We’re trying to get the law to the highest level possible, so the right will be extended to as many Americans as possible,” Alan M. Gottlieb, executive vice president and founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, told the Washington Times.

If this case does go to the U.S. Supreme Court, the nine justices would finally be confronted with the question of whether self-defense extends beyond the home, an issue they’ve avoided in recent years. 

Judge Legg’s ruling was pretty clear on this matter.  He wrote, “In addition to self-defense, the [Second Amendment] right was also understood to allow for militia membership and hunting. To secure these rights, the Second Amendment‘s protections must extend beyond the home: neither hunting nor militia training is a household activity, and ‘self-defense has to take place wherever [a] person happens to be’.”

Tough to argue with his logic – but we’ll keep an eye out to see what happens.