While many people lament the requirement for concealed carry permits in many states, and rightly so, perhaps the most egregious infringement on our Second Amendment rights are those states which require people to show cause to be granted a permit. These are even worse than simple “may issue” requirements, though the two go hand in hand.
Now, it seems the Supreme Court may be considering a case about the constitutionality of these measures. In fact, 21 state attorneys general have written to the court asking it to strike down such an unconstitutional law.
A coalition of 21 state attorneys general is asking the Supreme Court to strike down a Maryland law that denies concealed carry permits unless applicants can convince local officials they have a “good and substantial reason” to be granted one by local authorities.
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican, and the other state officials filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Supreme Court Dec. 18 in a case cited as Malpasso v. Pallozzi. Morrisey and the others want to expand the scope of protection afforded to gun-ownership rights after the high court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller (2010), that the right to possess a firearm is an individual right, and in McDonald v. Chicago (2012), that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” applies to the states.
Apart from West Virginia, the other states that participated in the brief are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.
The question former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, a veteran of Second Amendment battles, put before the court in the petition for certiorari filed Sept. 26, is, “Whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit typical, law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self defense in any manner.”
However, we also know from Heller that the Court found the right of self-defense to be a fundamental right, which suggests that the Maryland laws’ best hope for victory is for the Court not to hear the case.
If this case proceeds, it could be a huge win for gun rights. It’s highly unlikely that the “good and substantial reason” requirement will be upheld by a Court generally believed to be pro-gun. For anti-gunners, their best hope would be for a narrow finding that just eliminates those kinds of requirements. That would be welcome in places like New Jersey, for example, where I’ve talked with readers who can’t get a permit because of this kind of thing.
Yet the Court could also find more broadly. It’s quite possible the justices to find that even “may issue” schemes are unconstitutional and that “shall issue” should be the law of the land. It’s not completely out of the realm of possibility that the Court will strike down carry permits completely, though I find that incredibly unlikely.
Still, should the Court hear this case, this could represent a huge win for gun owners in profoundly anti-gun states.