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Supreme Court Declines Maryland Gun Law Review

With everyone from parents of slain children at Sandy Hook Elementary to the President himself calling for controls that would limit gun violence, it’s starting to seem like the Second Amendment is up for debate. Of course, overriding a citizen’s right to bear arms is not likely to happen in the near future, but some states are certainly pushing the boundaries. And not all residents are content to sit idly by as their rights are trampled on. After Maryland passed a law requiring citizens to provide proof of a “good and substantial reason” for requesting a permit to carry a gun in public (outside a residence or place of work) before one would be granted, the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF), a group based in Bellevue, Washington, took Maryland lawmakers to task with a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court, with the argument that the law broke Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately for would-be gun-toters, the court refused to hear the case.

Maryland is one of several states that now fit the descriptor of “may carry”, by which they may decide on whether or not citizens are allowed to carry firearms in public. Others that fall under this mantle include nearby New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, as well as liberal California and Hawaii. The goal, according to Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, is to create “a safer place for families to live and work”. And the law doesn’t stop people who need the protection of a firearm from obtaining it; those who demonstrate need to the satisfaction of the state may still be granted such a permit. In fact, an estimated 14,000 residents currently hold permits to carry guns in public.

However, the law did not sit well with at least one citizen. Raymond Woollard, a resident of Baltimore County, was granted a permit to carry a handgun outside the home after a 2002 break-in by his son-in-law, and he was even allowed to renew it. But as of 2009 he was not allowed to renew his permit a second time after officials deemed that he was unable to provide sufficient proof of ongoing danger that would warrant a public permit. Much like restraining orders, it seems that permits to carry have a shelf-life in Maryland, which has determined that general fear and vague threats don’t count as a good and/or substantial reason to carry a firearm in public.

So Woollard teamed up with SAF to fight the law. And they almost made it to the Supreme Court. After the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the law, though, the Supreme Court refused to review the decision on appeal, leaving the case dead in the water. Not at play in this case was the latest Maryland gun law, which went into effect October 1st, banning 45 types of assault weapons and requiring anyone seeking a license to buy a handgun to submit to fingerprinting (although that law is being challenged elsewhere). And Maryland isn’t the only state looking to crack down on firearms abuses. Soon it may be a lot more difficult to buy certain guns, even used ones sold through online stores like trading place pawn. But Americans will not go gentle into that good night. Woollard may not have won his case, or even the right to have it reviewed by the Supreme Court, but his complaint will not likely be the last, or the loudest.

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