Yesterday, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the CalGuns Foundation, the NRA, the Folsom Gun Club, and two individuals brought the third suit in California over the state’s new handgun ammunition law. Today, Alan Gura and the Second Amendment Foundation filed their third lawsuit after their win in McDonald v. Chicago.
The newest case involves a Baltimore County, Maryland man who’s renewal of his handgun carry permit was turned down by the Maryland State Police because he couldn’t demonstrate “a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.” The case, Woollard et al v. Sheridan et al, was filed in U. S. District Court for the District of Maryland. In addition to Raymond Woollard, the Second Amendment Foundation is also a plaintiff.
The Second Amendment Foundation said in their release,
The lawsuit alleges that “Individuals cannot be required to demonstrate that carrying a handgun is ‘necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger’ as a prerequisite for exercising their Second Amendment rights.” Plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Maryland provision that requires permit applicants to “demonstrate cause” for the issuance of a carry permit.
On Christmas Eve, 2002, Mr. Woollard and his family were attacked in a home invasion by a burglar. He and his family finally subdued the intruder and had to wait 2 1/2 hours for the police to arrive. The police were confused as to whether he was in Baltimore County or not. The home invader was convicted of 1st Degree Burglary and given a sentence of three years probation.
Mr. Woollard was granted a handgun carry permit after this incident. His permit was renewed in 2005 after the home invader (who lives a mere three miles from him) was released from prison on probation violation charges. When Mr. Woollard went to renew his permit in 2009, he was denied a renewal because he didn’t provide proof that he was in danger. He appealed this denial to the Handgun Permit Review Board. They affirmed his denial saying “has not submitted any documentation to verify threats occurring beyond his residence, where he can already legally carry a handgun.”
The lawsuit is suing the Maryland State Police and the Handgun Permit Review Board on Second and Fourteenth Amendment grounds. The suit contends,
28. 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.
29. Individuals cannot be required to demonstrate that carrying a handgun is
“necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger,” or that they face a greater than average level of danger, as a prerequisite for exercising their Second Amendment rights.
30. Maryland Public Safety Code § 5-306(a)(5)(ii)’s requirement that handgun carry
permit applicants demonstrate “good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such . . . that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger,” violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, damaging Plaintiffs in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The suit seeks to permanently enjoin the Maryland State Police and Handgun Permit Review Board from requiring a showing of “apprehended danger as well as “from denying a permit to carry firearms on grounds that the applicant does not face a level of danger higher than that which an average person would reasonably expect to encounter.” The suit is also asking for Mr. Woollard’s permit to renewed, cost of the suit, and attorney’s fees.
I see this lawsuit as well as the Westchester County, NY case as a direct frontal assault on “may issue” states. A win in either or both of those cases would mean that one doesn’t have to be rich, famous, or well-connected in order to secure a carry permit.
UPDATE: Dave Hardy at the Of Arms and the Law blog has a very perceptive observation.
And to think — it was only a few years ago that Brady and others were suing gun manufacturers right and left, as part of a campaign to bankrupt the industry, a campaign that had a good chance of succeeding. Today, they’re on the defensive (to the extent they act at all) and the progun side is on the offense. Since almost all of it has occurred over the last month or so, it’s more than an offense, it’s a legal blitzkrieg.
UPDATE II: Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell makes a very good point about Maryland. It is in the 4th Circuit but is the outlier in terms of concealed carry. The other states in the 4th Circuit – Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas are all “shall issue” states.
UPDATE III: The Baltimore Sun didn’t even cover this in today’s paper. The Washington Post did have a story but it was buried on page B6. I’m sure they be screaming bloody murder if and when Woollard wins.