Permission to Carry a Gun May Not Be Granted in Maryland

Has the future of gun ownership arrived? In Maryland, a Handgun Permit Review Board  denied the application of a Washington, D.C. resident to be able to carry a handgun when he travels into Maryland. They rejected his rationale that he is in potential danger of hostile encounters due to the fact that he is a Republican congressional staffer.

Did you know that you need a special permit in Maryland if you wish to carry a gun you legally possess outside your home? To do so, you must file an application with the State Police, pass a criminal background check, take a handgun-training course, and provide a “good and substantial reason” why the application should be approved.

The D.C. resident’s application was denied, as was his appeal. The Handgun Review Board ruled that he provided no evidence of threats that would justify approval. That is despite recent attacks on Republicans, including the shooting at the Republicans softball practice that nearly killed Congressman Steve Scalise. The applicant is now in front of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals hoping for a reversal of the Review Board’s decision.

Not to get too legalistic here, but you should know that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled that Maryland has the right to require this justification procedure. Perhaps they failed to consider that an applicant’s politics might one day become one of the criteria for denial. Are we looking at a future where members of only one party will be granted carry rights? That’s not a preposterous possibility given that the state Review Board is currently made up of political appointees. But should such a procedure even exist?

The D.C. applicant, who is being represented by a group entitled Maryland Shall Issue (www.marylandshallissue.org), wants the state court to grant the application. While the state court can do so, it cannot overturn the 4th Circuit. That can only be done by the U.S.Supreme Court, which is where this and similar cases are heading.

The president of Maryland Shall Issue rightfully argues that the U.S. Constitution provides equal rights to all of its citizens––not just members of a special class. How the Supreme Court will rule will determine whether states can decide which citizens who legally possess handguns are permitted to carry them for protection outside their homes and which may not. Stay tuned.

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