Maryland Asks 4th Circuit For Stay In Woollard (Updated)

Late on Friday, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office filed a motion for a stay with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. They are seeking a stay of District Court Judge Benson Legg’s order in the Woollard case that the Maryland State Police must issue carry permits without requiring a “good and substantial reason.”

They are seeking to have the order stayed until the 4th Circuit rules on its appeal of the Woollard decision.

I have uploaded Maryland’s motion to Scribd and it can be found here.

UPDATE: Dave Hardy at Of Arms and the Law is reporting that the 4th Circuit granted Maryland its stay. However, they then expedited the hearings on the appeal.

SAF Reacts To Lifting Of Stay In Woollard

The Second Amendment Foundation issued a statement yesterday saying that they were “delighted” with Judge Legg’s ruling lifting his stay in Woollard v. Sheridan. Judge Legg found his stay was not warranted.

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation is delighted that the judge in a Maryland case that challenges the constitutionality of that state’s handgun permitting scheme is ready to lift a stay on his original order for the state to process carry permits without a citizen having to provide a “good and substantial reason.’

U.S District Judge Benson Everett Legg will lift the stay on his original order in two weeks because, in his opinion, the stay “is not warranted.”

“There is no good reason for the state to continue violating the constitutional rights of its citizens just to maintain this burdensome and arbitrary system,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “As Judge Legg originally observed, the Second Amendment’s protections extend beyond the home.”

While it is possible that the state may file a motion with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to impose a stay of Judge Legg’s order, the trial court precedent is an important one. It established that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not stop at the door of one’s home.

“No citizen should be required to give a good and substantial’ reason in order to exercise a constitutionally-protected civil right,” Gottlieb observed. “In his order today, Judge Legg noted that the state has pointed to little in the way of truly irreparable injury that is likely to result should their request for a stay be denied’.”

The judge also noted, “If a stay is granted, a sizeable number of people will be precluded from exercising, while the case is argued on appeal, what this Court has recognized as a valid aspect of their Second Amendment right. In the First Amendment context, the Supreme Court has stated that loss of First Amendment freedoms, for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury’.”

“It is time for the State of Maryland to understand that government cannot, and must not, be given blanket discretion in its perceived authority to interfere with the exercise of a constitutional right by law-abiding citizens,” Gottlieb said.

Maryland Shall Issue On The Lifting Of The Stay In Woollard Decision

With US District Court Judge Benson Legg’s lifting of his temporary stay in Woollard v. Sheridan, the Maryland State Police will have to start processing carry permit applications without regard to the “good and substantial reason” requirement.

Maryland Shall Issue has released a 5-point analysis of what the lifting of the stay will mean for Marylanders.

  • On August 8th, MSP will begin to process carry permit applications without regard to the “good and substantial reason” clause that was ruled unconstitutional back in March. Please bear in mind that the state of Maryland may ask the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (CA4) for an emergency stay of the Woollard ruling. If they ask for a stay and it is granted, MSP may decide to “sit” on applications until the appeal is decided.
  • The appeal of the Woollard decision itself remains before CA4. They may side with the state and overturn the lower court’s ruling, or they may uphold the decision. While the order lifting the stay is unquestionably good news, appeal itself is far more important.
  • We anticipate that MSP will receive another flood of carry permit applications. While the law requires that MSP process permit applications within 90 days, the sheer volume of paperwork involved will make that deadline very difficult if not impossible to meet. The court system is inclined to give an entity like MSP some leeway if they are processing applications in good faith. MSI will be monitoring any delays to ensure that it is good faith delays.
  • Remember that while the appeals process plays out, it is possible that permits could be denied or revoked if CA4 or the Supreme Court rules in the state’s favor. To that end, we encourage you to avoid spending money that you cannot afford to lose in the process of applying for a carry permit.
  • Expect that Anti-2A forces in the Maryland General Assembly will press hard to find new ways to deny your rights.

More On The Win For Carry In Maryland

WJZ – CBS Baltimore had this story on the win in the Woollard case. They interviewed both Cary Hansel and Alan Gura on the decision. Other than a mention of the statement from the Attorney General’s Office that they planned to appeal, all the coverage was of our side of the debate.

As the CalGuns Foundation said in a tweet this morning, “When this is the media coverage of a carry win, we’re winning.” And they are absolutely correct as no attention was given to the Brady Campaign or any of the other gun prohibitionists.

Maryland Shall Issue On The Woollard Decision

Patrick Shomo, President of the Maryland Shall Issue -The Citizens Defense League of Maryland, released this statement today regarding the great win in the Woollard case.

On Woollard

“A citizen may not be required to offer a good and substantial reason why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right‘s existence is all the reason he needs.”

That simple truth was all it took to rule that Maryland unconstitutionally denies carry permits to law-abiding people. The US Federal District Court in Baltimore reminded us – in a single line – that our civil rights belong to ‘We, The People’, and not ‘They, The Government’.

Maryland Shall Issue welcomes this ruling. Maryland law required the issuance of a carry permit to law-abiding people only if they meet one or more requirements, including a “Good and Substantial Cause” above that of the average citizen. The Court ruled that such a requirement could not survive the scrutiny of the US Constitution. The right to armed defense is one of the few enumerated, fundamental rights that we possess, and the state may not simply wish it away.

The impact of this decision – in the immediate case – is that the law used to deny your rights is unconstitutional. Technically, this makes Maryland a Shall-Issue state, as of now. MSI anticipated this decision and supported this case through funding and outreach. We are excited by the win, but also ready for the next steps. The state will not take this quietly, and has already announced their intention to appeal the ruling and also to request a stay on its implementation. It will likely be several weeks before such action is contemplated by the courts.

During that time, many have asked MSI, “What does this mean for me, and is now the time to apply?”

We say: If you can afford the fees, feel free to apply. It will tell the state to stop denying you the lawful exercise of your rights.

While arguing this case, the state claimed that their approval rate is greater than 90%, while conveniently omitting the fact that few will apply for a permit they know the state will not approve. The state has also claimed that the people of Maryland have little interest in this fundamental civil right. They are wrong.

Your application will join many others. We do not know how the state will handle your application. Technically, under this ruling the state cannot deny you for failure to provide a ‘Good and Substantial Cause’ to exercise your right. That said, no outcome is assured when dealing with Maryland politicians bent on maintaining a system of patronage that approves 25 years of permits for well-connected bankers, but never one for the common man. The state will fight – they might delay application processing through the time of their appeal. They are going to ask the courts to let them continue to deny our rights while they spend yet more taxpayer dollars crafting inane arguments that claim Maryland residents are more likely to commit crime when exercising their right than the 43 states that are Shall-Issue. It is clear that the state believes law-abiding Maryland people are simply more bestial than the rest of the nation. In the end, Maryland’s tired arguments will fail. When the higher courts affirm this ruling, each application denied is a civil right denied. And in the event the state does not get their stay, well…then Maryland Shall Issue.

If times are tough for you, please stand by. In spite of this ruling, there is risk when dealing with a state that has done all in its power to deny your civil rights for decades. We promise there are going to be many ways to assist in the weeks and months ahead.

As for the application itself, when it asks for “Reason for handgun permit” (9a), please note “For Self Defense and All Lawful Purposes”. You need not attach documented threats or police reports, but if you have them please do so. If someone from the state discourages you from applying or attempts to prevent your application from consideration, get their name and let us know immediately.

Remember this: the State of Maryland is on the hook to explain to the Federal Courts and the People of Maryland why they continually deny a fundamental civil right. Your rights do not come from the government – they are yours and the government cannot remove them just because they wish your compliance. Every lawful person denied the exercise of this right is another violation of basic civil rights.

If you choose to apply, please share your story with us and let us know how you progress through the system. MSI intends to follow as many applications as possible and share general statistics with our partners. We are watching the state. We will not release your personal info to anyone without your express written consent. Just drop us an email and join the rest of us in demanding our rights be recognized, today.

 The following is the contact info for Maryland Shall Issue:


Postal Mail:

Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.
1332 Cape St. Claire Rd #342
Annapolis, MD 21409


(410) 849-9197

The Second Amendment Foundation On Their Win In Woollard

The Second Amendment Foundation released this today celebrating their win in Woollard et al v. Sheridan.


For Immediate Release: 3/5/2012

BELLEVUE, WA – A federal court ruling in Maryland, that the Second Amendment right to bear arms extends beyond the home and that citizens may not be required to offer a “good and substantial reason” for obtaining a concealed carry permit, is a huge victory, the Second Amendment Foundation said today.

Ruling in the case of Woollard v. Sheridan – a case brought by SAF in July 2010 on behalf of Maryland resident Raymond Woollard, who was denied his carry permit renewal – the U.S. District Court for Maryland ruled that “The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home.”

U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg noted, “In addition to self-defense, the (Second Amendment) right was also understood to allow for militia membership and hunting. To secure these rights, the Second Amendment‘s protections must extend beyond the home: neither hunting nor militia training is a household activity, and ‘self-defense has to take place wherever [a] person happens to be’.”

“This is a monumentally important decision,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “The federal district court has carefully spelled out the obvious, that the Second Amendment does not stop at one’s doorstep, but protects us wherever we have a right to be. Once again, SAF’s attorney in this case, Alan Gura, has won an important legal victory. He was the attorney who argued the landmark Heller case, and he represented SAF in our Supreme Court victory in McDonald v. City of Chicago.

“Equally important in Judge Legg’s ruling,” he added, “is that concealed carry statutes that are so discretionary in nature as to be arbitrary do not pass constitutional muster.”

“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.”

“Judge Legg’s ruling takes a substantial step toward restoring the Second Amendment to its rightful place in the Bill of Rights, and provides gun owners with another significant victory,” Gottlieb concluded. “SAF will continue winning back firearms freedoms one lawsuit at a time.”

This might be a good time as Joe Huffman said to donate to the Brady Campaign’s tequila fund and then real money to the Second Amendment Foundation.

Woollard v. Sheridan – A Review Of The Opinion

U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg’s Memorandum of Opinion in the Maryland carry case – Woollard et al v. Sheridan – is not everything we could have wanted but it is good enough.

After the reviewing the facts of the case which were not disputed by either side, Judge Legg says this case presents two questions. First, do the Second Amendment’s protections apply outside the home? And second, if these rights do exist beyond the home, does “Maryland‘s requirement that a permit applicant demonstrate ‘good and substantial reason’ to wear or carry a handgun” pass constitutional muster? He then notes that the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in United States v. Masciandaro will guide him in answering these questions.

Judge Legg says the court in the Masciandaro case applied intermediate scrutiny because the Second Amendment right claimed in that case was outside the home. As such, the 4th Circuit concluded “a lesser showing is necessary” and intermediate scrutiny was appropriate. Likewise in Woollard, he notes:

Woollard‘s asserted right falls within this same category of non-core Second Amendment protection. He already enjoys an unchallenged right to possess a handgun in his home; but, like Masciandaro, he also seeks to carry one into the wider world for general self-defense. The statute he challenges, therefore, is properly viewed through the lens of intermediate scrutiny, which places the burden on the Government to demonstrate a reasonable fit between the statute and a substantial governmental interest.

In his opinion, Judge Legg found that by necessity he had to go beyond that of the 4th Circuit in examining the scope of the Second Amendment right claimed by Raymond Woollard. Here he looks to Masciandaro again as well as to Heller. He notes the reasoning of Judge Niemeyer in Masciandaro that the right to bear arms does apply in some form where the need is not “most acute” such as hunting or militia service which both occur outside the home. He then looks to Heller where its use of “bear arms” indicates the Second Amendment protections, while they can be limited, do not stop at one’s front door. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s discussion of “presumptively lawful” restrictions points to a greater level of scrutiny than rational basis which “all laws are presumed to satisfy.” He then concludes:

For all of these reasons, the Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home. The signposts left by recent Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit case law all point to the conclusion that Woollard‘s “claim to self-defense—asserted by him as a law-abiding citizen . . . -does implicate the Second Amendment, albeit subject to lawful limitations.”

The Court then looks at the “good and substantial reason” requirement of Maryland for the issuance of a carry permit and examines the three major arguments put forth by Alan Gura. The first was that the Maryland law amounted to prior restraint on the exercise of Mr. Woollard’s Second Amendment rights because it gives unlimited discretion to the licensing officials. Judge Legg rejected this argument saying that “while the applicant bears the burden of demonstrating a “good and substantial reason,” licensing officials are not simply left to their own views of what such a good reason might be.

The second argument put forth by Gura was that while the state has an interest in public safety, the current “law was not sufficiently tailored to that interest to withstand intermediate scrutiny.” Here Judge Legg agrees and notes that the Maryland is just too broad.

The Maryland statute‘s failure lies in the overly broad means by which it seeks to advance this undoubtedly legitimate end. The requirement that a permit applicant demonstrate “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun does not, for example, advance the interests of public safety by ensuring that guns are kept out of the hands of those adjudged most likely to misuse them, such as criminals or the mentally ill. It does not ban handguns from places where the possibility of mayhem is most acute, such as schools, churches, government buildings, protest gatherings, or establishments that serve alcohol. It does not attempt to reduce accidents, as would a requirement that all permit applicants complete a safety course. It does not even, as some other States’ laws do, limit the carrying of handguns to persons deemed “suitable” by denying a permit to anyone “whose conduct indicates that he or she is potentially a danger to the public if entrusted with a handgun.”

He goes on to say that  the regulation at “issue is a rationing system” whose goal is merely to reduce the total number of firearms carried outside the home. Dismissing the arguments about potential threats from those with handguns put forth by Maryland, he notes that “the challenged regulation does no more to combat them than would a law indiscriminately limiting the issuance of a permit to every tenth applicant.” Moreover, he says If anything, the Maryland regulation puts firearms in the hands of those most likely to use them in a violent situation by limiting the issuance of permits to ‘groups of individuals who are at greater risk than others of being the victims of crime.'”

At bottom, this case rests on a simple proposition: If the Government wishes to burden a right guaranteed by the Constitution, it may do so provided that it can show a satisfactory justification and a sufficiently adapted method. The showing, however, is always the Government‘s to make. A citizen may not be required to offer a “good and substantial reason” why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right‘s existence is all the reason he needs.

Judge Legg says his decision had limits and does not address any of the other regulations relating to the possession and use of firearms. Moreover, if the Maryland law had been limited to only concealed carry instead of all carry, the “good and substantial reason” section of the law might have passed scrutiny.

Finally, the Court declined to address the third argument put forth by the plaintiffs that the law violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment finding that it was unneccesary. This was because the Second Amendment analysis was sufficient, because the Equal Protection argument was a restatement of the Second Amendment argument, and because it would have applied a higher level of scrutiny than necessary.

As I said in my earlier post, the Motion for Summary Judgment by the plaintiffs was granted and that of the Defendants’ was denied. This is a win to be sure. However, while the “good and substantial reason” section of the law is invalidated, the rest remains and there is nothing the stop the Maryland legislature from recrafting the law to continue their practice of “may issue” carry especially as it relates to concealed carry.

UPDATE: The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has issued a statement indicating that will both appeal the decision and seek a stay of the ruling until the appeal is heard according to a story at WBAL Radio.

“We disagree with this ruling. In light of the very important implications of the ruling for public safety, the defendants will be appealing to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The defendants will also be seeking a stay of the ruling pending appeal.”

I can’t say I’m surprised by the state’s actions. I would have been more surprised if they had given up.

Professor Eugene Volokh writing about the case had this to say about the probable appeal of Woollard. It should be noted that Professor Volokh thought the District Court got it right in finding the Second Amendment applies outside the home.

This having been said, most recent court decisions that have squarely considered the matter have upheld broad restrictions on carrying, though some — like the Fourth Circuit — have suggested that such restrictions’ constitutionality remains unsettled, and a Puerto Rico appellate decision reached the same result that this Maryland federal court decision did. Indeed, Maryland’s highest court has upheld the Maryland statute, concluding that gun possession outside the home is outside the Second Amendment; it’s possible to read that decision more narrowly as simply upholding the permitting requirement but leaving open the question whether permits must be granted to pretty much all law-abiding applicants, but I think the logic of the Maryland high court opinion is broader than that, and would lead to the rejection of the very claim that the federal district court accepted in this case.

So it will be interesting to see what the Fourth Circuit does with this on appeal. And if the Fourth Circuit agrees with the district court, that will likely be seen as creating a split between the Fourth Circuit and Maryland’s highest court — plus state courts in some other states — which would mean there would be a substantial chance that the Supreme Court will agree to hear the case. (If the Fourth Circuit reverses the district court, and rejects the Second Amendment claim, then the Supreme Court will be quite unlikely to grant review.)

Maryland’s May Issue Carry Permits Struck Down

Chalk up another win for Alan Gura. Judge Benson Everett Legg issued an order that was published today granting the Motion for Summary Judgment in favor of Raymond Woollard. From the Opinion:

The Court finds that Maryland‘s requirement of a ―good and substantial reason‖ for issuance of a handgun permit is insufficiently tailored to the State‘s interest in public safety and crime prevention. The law impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment. The Court will, by separate Order of even date, GRANT Woollard‘s Motion for Summary Judgment and DENY Defendants‘ Motion for Summary Judgment.

From the Order:

For the reasons set forth in the accompanying Memorandum of even date, it is, this 2nd day of March, 2012, hereby ORDERED as follows:
1. Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 21) is hereby GRANTED,
2. Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 25) is hereby DENIED,
3. Plaintiffs’ prior Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket No. 12) is DENIED AS MOOT, and
4. The Clerk is directed to CLOSE the case.

As soon as I can read the Opinion, I will post on the details. In the meantime, Raymond Woollard wins -as does everyone in the State of Maryland.

Woollard v. Sheridan – Amended Complaint Filed

At the end of 2010, Judge J. Frederick Motz partially denied the State of Maryland’s motion to dismiss the Second Amendment Foundation’s challenge to Maryland’s concealed carry law requirement of “apprehended danger”.  He did, however, dismiss that portion of the case claiming violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because it did not make a claim upon which relief could be granted. Fortunately, he gave the plaintiffs until the January 21st to file an amended complaint correcting this defect.

Alan Gura filed the amended complaint on January 19. The amended complaint follows the original complaint word for word up until the statement of a claim in Count II.

Maryland Public Safety Code § 5-306(a)(5)(ii)’s requirement that handgun carry permit applicants demonstrate cause for the issuance of a permit impermissibly classifies individuals with respect to the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right. The provision creates two classification of individuals. Applicants who have demonstrated to Defendants’ satisfaction that a handgun carry permit is “necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger,” or that they face a greater than average level of danger, are given permits; applicants who cannot satisfy that burden are not given permits. The classification system is inherently arbitrary, irrational, and deprives individuals of their fundamental right to bear arms based on criteria that cannot be justified under any means-ends level of scrutiny for the security of a fundamental constitutional right. The provision thus violates Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the law, damaging them in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs are therefore entitled to permanent injunctive relief against the enforcement of this provision.

Bold text represents the addition to the complaint.

The most significant part of this restating of the claim is that it argues that under any level of scrutiny the Maryland requirements are unconstitutional. A “means-end level of scrutiny” refers to the rational basis level of scrutiny which is the lowest used in consideration of constitutional rights. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Chester calls for intermediate scrutiny – or a level higher – as the minimum in Second Amendment cases.