In a decision handed down today, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a Maryland law requiring an applicant to demonstrate “good and substantial reason” for the issuance of a handgun carry permit.
“The State has demonstrated that the good-and-substantial-reason requirement is reasonably adapted to Maryland’s significant interests in protecting public safety and preventing crime,” wrote Judge Robert B. King for a unanimous three-judge panel in Woolard v. Gallagher, reversing the district court. The panel also included Judges Andre M. Davis and Albert Diaz. (See a profile of those judges and the Fourth Circuit here.)
The plaintiff, Raymond Woollard (joined by the Second Amendment Foundation in the lawsuit), had initially obtained a handgun carry permit in 2003 after an intruder incident at his home (the intruder was his son-in-law). He was allowed to renew the permit in 2006, shortly after his son-in-law was released from prison, but could not renew again in 2009 because he could not establish an apprehended fear or other good reason to carry a handgun beyond his home, as required by the Maryland law.
In upholding Maryland’s restrictions, the court stopped short of considering whether the Second Amendment protects a right to carry outside the home. “We hew to a judicious course today, refraining from any assessment of whether Maryland’s good-and-substantial reason requirement for obtaining a handgun permit implicates Second Amendment protections, ” King wrote.
The 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Kachalsky v. County of Westchester took a similar approach back in November when it upheld a New York law requiring applicant to show “proper cause” for a concealed-carry license.
But other circuits have gone further. In February, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the Second Amendment does not protect a right to carry concealed weapons. “In light of our nations’s extensive practice of restricting citizens’ freedom to carry firearms in a concealed manner, we hold that this activity does not fall within the scope of Second Amendment ‘s protections,” wrote Judge Carlos Lucero for a unanimous panel there in Peterson v. Martinez.
That ruling conflicts with an earlier a decision out of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Madigan v. Moore, holding that the Second Amendment does protect a right to carry loaded guns outside the home — and may now push the Supreme Court to address the scope of that amendment.
The Supreme Court has ventured into this area only twice. In 2008, the Supreme Court recognized an individual right to possess a gun, ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that a ban on handguns in the home violated the Second Amendment. And in 2010 the court held that Second Amendment protections extended to the states.
It has not since addressed the scope of that right beyond the home and has provided little guidance on when and how the right can be regulated by the government.
And it has repeatedly declined to consider those questions on appeal, denying petitions for certiorari at least six times, including in a 2011 Fourth Circuit case, United States v. Masciandaro, which involved a Virginia man who was convicted and fined $150 for having a loaded gun in his car while parked in near Washington’s National Airport.