The Second Amendment Foundation has petitioned the US Supreme Court for review of a Maryland case that could settle whether the right to keep and bear arms extends outside the home, and how much authority a state may exert in regulating that right.
The case, known as Woollard v. Sheridan, challenges the Old Line State’s arbitrary permitting structure. Under Maryland’s law, a citizen must prove a “good and substantial reason” for wanting to carry a loaded firearm for personal protection outside the home.
SASF originally challenged the law in 2010 on behalf of Maryland resident Raymond Woollard. When Federal District Judge Benson Everett Legg ruled in March 2012 in favor of the plaintiffs, he noted that “The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home.”
“A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights,” Judge Legg wrote. “The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”
However, the state appealed and that court reversed Judge Legg in March of this year. When SAF’s request for high court review became public, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler said he would oppose the move, according to the Associated Press and the Daily Record.
The Supreme Court has been reluctant to take another Second Amendment case since its 2010 McDonald ruling. SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb has indicated to TGM that carry outside the home is the “third leg” of what he sees as an effort to fully restore the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, which has been eroded gradually for decades by various regulatory schemes.
The Bellevue, WA-based foundation has filed more than 20 federal lawsuits in various jurisdictions, challenging different gun laws on Second Amendment grounds, since winning the landmark case of McDonald v. City of Chicago that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the 14th Amendment.
Gottlieb was delighted last year with Judge Legg’s ruling, noting that the judge made it clear that “concealed carry statutes that are so discretionary in nature as to be arbitrary do not pass constitutional muster.” SAF has challenged similar laws in New York and New Jersey, and while losing so far, the group did win a major victory in Illinois by forcing that state to adopt, for the first time in its history, a mechanism by which citizens can obtain licenses to carry.
SAF is represented in the case by attorney Alan Gura, who argued both the McDonald and Heller cases before the high court, winning both and establishing that the Second Amendment protects and affirms an individual civil right to keep and bear arms.
In his filing for Supreme Court review, Gura noted that the court of appeals “merely deferred to police declarations asserting that carrying handguns for self-defense – the exercise of the fundamental, enumerated right to bear arms – is socially undesirable.”
Lower courts have come up with conflicting opinions about how far from someone’s front door the Second Amendment extends. Anti-gunners would have the narrowest interpretation become the law of the land, limiting the right to bear arms inside one’s home. In that case, gun rights advocates contend, the “right” to keep and bear arms is thus relegated to being a heavily-regulated government privilege.