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Ruling Expands Maryland Gun-Carry Permit Access

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 09, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Maryland Attorney General’s office will challenge a federal court opinion relaxing Maryland gun control laws in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling altered the standard for issuing gun permits and expanded the scope of where a permit holder may carry a handgun, reports The Baltimore Sun.

Prior to the ruling, the state used the “may issue” standard when granting Maryland gun-carry permits. Permit applicants were required to prove that they weren’t dangerous felons or addicts, and that they had a “good and substantial reason” for carrying a gun. The Maryland state police had discretion to determine whether an applicant met the good and substantial reason burden.

Even under this subjective standard, only 5 percent of permit applicants were rejected annually. Plaintiff Raymond Woollard, however, fell within the small number of rejected applicants.

Woollard applied for a gun-carry permit in 2003 after his son-in-law broke into his home and terrorized his family. While Maryland renewed Woollard's permit in 2006, the state rejected his renewal application in 2009 because Woollard could not demonstrate a good and substantial reason -- in this case, a continuing threat -- according to The Baltimore Sun.

Judge Benson E. Legg, a George H.W. Bush appointee, struck down the good and substantial reason requirement last week, writing, "A citizen may not be required to offer a good and substantial reason why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right's existence is all the reason he needs."

The decision essentially changes Maryland from a "may issue" state to a "shall issue state," requiring police to issue a gun-carry permit as long as the applicant satisfies the state's background and safety conditions.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals seems unlikely to overturn the Maryland gun-carry permit decision; the circuit is known to favor gun rights.

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