Monthly Archives: March 2013

NRA and Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli Lose on Second Amendment Argument

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March 23  |  Headlines  |   david

In Woollard v. Gallagher, a case decided March 21, 2013, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond upheld a Maryland law which places restrictions on those who can carry handguns outside the home.  Both the National Rifle Association and the Attorney General of Virginia, among others, filed amicus briefs arguing that the Maryland law violated the Second Amendment.  They lost.

The Maryland law was not an absolute ban on carrying handguns outside the home.  It provided a number of exceptions, but said others not falling within an exception must have a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a gun in order for them to obtain the required permit.  The Maryland State Police was given authority to issue the permits.  The State Police adopted a standard which sets out four categories which they would consider to meet the “good and substantial reason” requirement, the last of which was “for personal protection.”   To determine whether the personal protection requirement was met, the State Police applied an objective standard previously adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals that there must be an “apprehended danger,” something more specific than “a vague threat” or a general fear of “living in a dangerous society.”

 In its analysis, the Fourth Circuit followed its own precedent and applied an “intermediate scrutiny,” not a “strict scrutiny,” standard in determining whether the state regulation restricting guns outside the home placed an impermissible burden on the Second Amendment constitutional right.

 The court held that Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement as applied in this case met second amendment constitutional muster.  Using the intermediate scrutiny standard, the court found Maryland had demonstrated that the statutory “good and substantial reason” requirement is reasonably adapted to Maryland’s significant interest in protecting public safety and preventing crime.