A new lawsuit has been filed over Maryland’s handgun carry laws, and the state gun group bringing the suit is using Washington, D.C.’s gun laws as an example of how the state should issue concealed carry licenses.

The brief, filed in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on behalf of Edward Holmes Whalen, argues that the state’s gun laws are unconstitutional and have been superseded by other case precedents.

A Maryland resident must provide a “good and substantial reason” to be granted a concealed carry permit. Maryland is one of 10 states considered a “may issue” state, which means it requires a permit to carry a concealed gun, and granting that permit is at the discretion of local authorities. It’s a restrictive law that prevents most average citizens from being able to obtain a permit, said Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll).

Right now in Maryland and a few other states, those applying to get a license to carry have to show “good cause,” or in Maryland, a “good and substantial reason” to receive a license. Here are a few reasons that aren’t good enough in Maryland at the moment:

  • It’s my right to keep AND bear arms.
  • I live in a high crime neighborhood and want to protect myself and my family.
  • I work in a job where I could be robbed and I want to protect myself.
  • Did I mention I have the right to bear arms?
  • I’ve had a stalker in the past, and though they’re quiet now they could come back.
  • Seriously, it’s a right, not a privilege.

I do need to correct Frederick News-Post reporter Allen Etzler on one thing.  Etzler claims:

The opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller found that D.C.’s handgun ban and law that legally owned rifles and shotguns be kept “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock” violated the Second Amendment, turning Washington, D.C., into a “shall issue” state.

That’s not what happened. The Supreme Court did strike down D.C. storage laws and the ban on handguns in Heller, but the decision didn’t impact carrying a firearm. Instead, it was a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that struck down the District’s “good cause” requirement in a case called Wrenn v District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.’s local leaders decided not to appeal the decision to SCOTUS, fearing a nationwide precedent in the Supreme Court upheld the decision by the court of appeals. As a result, D.C. dropped the “good cause” language and adopted a “shall issue” system (there are still many issues with D.C.’s laws, but that’s another post for another time).

While the Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on the right to bear arms, a number of lawsuits that reference the Wrenn decision have been filed in various states. In fact, last year another lawsuit challenging Maryland’s “good and substantial” language was filed by the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association. Another case challenging New Jersey’s language is currently under consideration by the Supreme Court. The 9th Circuit is also considering multiple cases dealing with laws in California and Hawaii.

There are less than a dozen states around the country that still use this restrictive language to prevent as many people as possible from exercising their right to bear arms. There are more “constitutional carry” states where no license is required to carry a firearms than “may issue” states that require citizens to demonstrate “good cause” before receiving a license. The arc of history is bending in the direction of nationwide recognition of our right to bear arms, and this latest lawsuit in Maryland should serve as a warning to anti-gun lawmakers across the country: acknowledge the real rights protected by the 2nd Amendment or go down in history for being the kind of petty tyrant that abuses and misuses the Constitution in order to keep citizens from the full exercise of their freedoms.