The state of Maryland is targeted in a new lawsuit by the Second Amendment Foundation for putting conditions on residents’ Second Amendment rights, requiring them to demonstrate they face a specific “apprehended danger.”
It’s the third major lawsuit filed by SAF since the organization’s successful challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court of Chicago’s ban on handguns. The June ruling extended
the federally protected right to keep and bear arms to all 50 states.
The newest case, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, is by SAF and a Baltimore County, Md., man who alleged the state is violating the Second Amendment by refusing to renew his handgun permit.
According to the civil-rights organization, Raymond Woollard originally was issued a carry permit after a man broke into his home during a family event in 2002. Woollard’s permit was renewed in 2005, after the defendant in the case was released from prison.
But SAF said state officials now have refused to renew the permit, even though the intruder now lives some three miles from Woollard.
Named as defendants are Terrence B. Sheridan, superintendent of the Maryland State Police, and three members of the Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board, Denis Gallagher, Seymour Goldstein and Charles M. Thomas Jr.
SAF and Woollard are represented by attorneys Alan Gura of Virginia and Cary J. Hansel of Greenbelt, Md.
“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,” the lawsuit explains.
The action seeks a permanent injunction against enforcement of the Maryland provision that requires permit applicants to “demonstrate cause” for the issuance of a carry permit.
“Laws that empower bureaucrats to deny the exercise of a fundamental civil right because they cannot show good cause to exercise that right can’t possibly stand up under constitutional scrutiny,” said SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “We are supporting Mr. Woollard in this action because constitutional rights trump bureaucratic whims.”
SAF earlier launched a legal action against the Westchester County, N.Y., government because officials there were requiring residents to have a “good cause” to ask for a handgun permit. The federal lawsuit alleges the requirement conflicts with June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Second Amendment establishes a personal right to “keep and bear arms.”
The foundation said it was joined in the lawsuit by Alan Kachalsky and Christina Nikolov, both Westchester County residents whose permit applications were denied.
Kachalsky was denied because he could not “demonstrate a need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general public.” Nikolov’s was denied because she could not demonstrate there was “any type of threat to her own safety anywhere.”
In addition to Westchester County, Susan Cacace and Jeffrey Cohen, both serving at times as handgun-permit licensing officers, are named as defendants.
Another earlier case challenged a practice in North Carolina of banning guns during “emergencies.”
The case claimed state statutes forbidding the carrying of firearms or ammunition when officials declare “states of emergency” are unconstitutional. Further, the plaintiffs said a state law allowing the government to prohibit the sale, purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition is unconstitutional.
WND reported earlier this year when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a “declared snow emergency.”
North Carolina is among the states that allow such actions. Under its statute 14-288.7, when a municipality declares a state of emergency in which “public-safety authorities are unable to … afford adequate protection for lives or property” – such as during a snowstorm – “it is unlawful for any person to transport or possess off his own premises any dangerous weapon.”
That means that when police can’t get through on the roads, the citizens can’t take guns off their own property.
It flipped “the burden onto the government and legislatures to show why they need to restrict what the court has already said is an individual right,” John Velleco, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America, told WND after the Supreme Court’s decision.
In the 2008 Heller case, the court ruled that the Second Amendment right to be armed was an individual right, but the case pertained only to the District of Columbia. With the decision in the case brought by Otis McDonald of Chicago, the high court applied the definition to all the states.
“The right to keep and bear arms must be regarded as a substantive guarantee, not a prohibition that could be ignored so long as the States legislated in an evenhanded manner,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.
There is other action on the state level regarding gun rights. Already, eight states have adopted laws that exempt guns made, sold and kept inside the states from any federal gun regulations.
A court case already has developed over that effort in Montana – the first state to take the step of ordering federal regulators to stay out of the state’s business of regulating its citizenry’s weapons.
In one state, Wyoming, lawmakers even adopted a $2,000 penalty for federal agents trying to enforce federal regulations against an exempted weapon.