The Maryland District Court has just handed down a decision [pdf]
in the Woollard
case granting the plaintiff summary judgement.
If you need to brush up on the case, we had a thread here
when it was first argued.
From the opinion:
The Court finds that Maryland’s requirement of a “good and substantial reason” for issuance of a handgun permit is insufficiently tailored to the State’s interest in public safety and crime prevention. The law impermissibly infringes the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Judge Legg maintains that the right to carry outside the home is only covered by intermediate scrutiny, but this is a step forward.
The Supreme Court’s choice of phrasing connotes that the
restrictions it termed “presumptively lawful” pass muster under a heightened standard of review. It would likely not have used the modifier “presumptively” if those restrictions were subject, not to any form of elevated scrutiny, but only to the rational basis review that all laws are presumed to satisfy. If this is correct, and laws limiting the carrying of firearms in sensitive places are indeed implicated by the Second Amendment’s protections, then those protections necessarily
extend outside the home, at least to some degree.
For all of these reasons, the Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home. The signposts left by recent Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit case law all point to the conclusion that Woollard’s “claim to self-defense—asserted by him as a law-abiding citizen . . .
—does implicate the Second Amendment, albeit subject to lawful limitations.” [pp. 12-13]
While declining to address Woollard's Equal Protection claim, Judge Legg did leave us with this signpost:
A law that burdens the exercise of an enumerated constitutional right by simply making that right more difficult to exercise cannot be considered “reasonably adapted” to a government interest, no matter how substantial that interest may be. Maryland’s goal of “minimizing the proliferation of handguns among those who do not have a demonstrated need for them,” is not a permissible method of preventing crime or ensuring public safety; it burdens the right too broadly. Those who drafted and ratified the Second Amendment surely knew that the right they were enshrining carried a risk of misuse, and states have considerable latitude to channel the exercise of the right in ways that will minimize that risk. States may not, however, seek to reduce the danger by means of widespread curtailment of the right itself. [p. 20]
We couldn't get a "bear
arms" case before the Supreme Court this session, and some folks think it was because the Court doesn't want to address the issue through criminal appeals (which is what Williams
were "pure" cases, in which the plaintiff was a law-abiding citizen arguing that their rights were being diminished by unjust laws. In that vein, I have high hopes for Woollard
as such a case.