Monday, August 02, 2010

Woollard v. Sheridan et al.: Challenging Maryland Gun Law

The Second Amendment Foundation has filed suit in the State of Maryland challenging its gun permit law. To carry a handgun in Maryland, you need a permit. In addition to backgouround chaecks, the applicant must show and the Superintendent must determine that the applicant “has good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”

The complaint alleges among other things, "Individuals cannot be required to prove their 'good and substantial reason' for the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights, including the right to keep and bear arms."

The complaint also alleges,
On Christmas Eve, 2002, Woollard was at his home with his wife, son, daughter, and the daughter’s children, when an intruder broke into the home by shattering a window. Woollard trained his shotgun on the intruder, but the latter wrested the shotgun away, and a fight broke out between the two. The fight ended when Woollard’s son retrieved another gun and restored order pending the police’s arrival.
The Superintendent allegedly denied the permit, because Mr. Woollard did not submit evidence of threats outside the home.

The Heller and the McDonald cases in the United States Supreme Court established the right to keep firearms in the home for protection, but did go further than that. Cases develop the law slowly, because courts decide the law only as applied to the facts before them. The Maryland case will push past the boundaries of the right to possess firearms for self-defense in the home to the right to bear arms outside the home.

It will be years before this case reaches the Supreme Court of the United States, if it ever does. There are many steps between here and there and other possible resolutions. It is even possible that Maryland will fix its law first, so the court's do not have to strike it down. There is never a guarantee that any particular case will reach the Supreme Court. But, some are more likely than others and this one is right up there.

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