Some things that immediately popped out at me:
At the end of the March 22 call, the Court asked whether Mr. Woollard could get a permit even if other relief were stayed. The defendants note that the injunction (ECF No. 63) contains two paragraphs, one generally prohibiting enforcement of good and substantial reason and the second prohibiting consideration of good and substantial reason with respect to Mr. Woollard's application. It is within the Court's discretion to grant a stay of the first paragraph, but not the second. In that case, MSP would promptly process Mr. Woollard's application.
Hmm, so the AG is saying that the court could (& should) allow the MSP to continue to enforce the "good and substantial reason" requirement except everyone except the Plaintiff?
Maybe my problem lies somewhere in the reasoning put forth by the AG as to the consequences of not issuing a stay:
I. The Failure to Enter a Stay Could Result in Harm to Individuals Eligible to Receive a Permit Under Existing Maryland Law.
The first question posed by the Court is what would happen if the injunction were not stayed pending appeal, but the Fourth Circuit later reversed. If the injunction were not stayed, and the Maryland State Police ("MSP") was therefore precluded from enforcing the good and substantial reason requirement, MSP will not necessarily know who among those receiving permits while the injunction is in effect (the "Interim Period") have good and substantial reason. If the Fourth Circuit were later to reverse, all permits that had been issued to individuals who had not demonstrated good and substantial reason during the Interim Period would be inconsistent with valid Maryland law. MSP, a law enforcement agency, would therefore be required to revoke those permits. Ex. A, Declaration of Marcus Brown, April 18, 2012 ("Brown Decl."), ¶ 5.
In this scenario, the greatest impact of denial of a stay would fall on individuals with good and substantial reason to wear and carry a handgun in public, those individuals who, by definition, have the greatest need for a permit. Although MSP would process applications received from individuals whose permits were revoked as soon as reasonably practicable, there would almost certainly be delays for individuals with good and substantial reason as a result of the likely glut of applications to process. Id. ¶ 11.
[Spats Edit: The AG then goes on to list several categories of folks who could be able to demonstrate “good and substantial” cause for requesting a permit, and the possible consequences of a delay in the issuance of their permits due to the “likely glut of applications to process.”
The AG then continues by saying that the MSP expects to continue to ask people to voluntarily provide "good and substantial" reason, in an attempt to mitigate the problems raised by this case, if a stay is not issued, and the 4th Circuit reverses. The AG makes such points as:]
. . . . in light of the strong feelings surrounding this issue, MSP nonetheless expects that a significant number of applicants who have good and substantial reason may decline to provide it during the Interim Period as a matter of principle. Id. . . . .
. . . . Because it would be impractical for MSP to track down and recover all of the permits that would not be returned [by folks who did not demonstrate a good and substantial reason], a number of permits would remain in circulation that would appear facially valid, but that had been revoked. Id. Police would therefore be significantly hindered in their ability to enforce the law.
Finally, a failure to stay the injunction pending appeal would adversely affect the processing of permit applications for individuals who have good and substantial reason. MSP resources for processing permit applications are already strained, and would become much more so if a large number of new permit applications need to be processed. Id. ¶ 163 . . . .
I'm sorry that this is so long-winded, but if I understand the AG's first point, it's this: (1) The MSP really, really needs to be allowed to continue to enforce this law that the judge already declared unconstitutional, to protect the people who are willing to comply with it, and really do need to carry a weapon; and (2) the MSP budget is tight, and it would be really inconvenient to have to hire and train new people to go out and reclaim licenses that were issued, if we win on appeal, because we expect some people not to answer the question that we're not supposed to be asking.
Unless I have totally missed the boat in my ~6 years of constitutional litigation, inconvenience generally isn't a factor in deciding how to restrict fundamental individual rights.
The other big problem that I had on first reading was his use of the statistics, as Al already mentioned. The AG puts on these statistics about CCL users committing crimes, but he only puts on the raw numbers, omitting other relevant ones.
For example, he cites to the Texas Dept of Public Safety & some of their numbers. (By the way, I noticed these stats a while back, and they're very interesting.) For example:
Texas, which only reports convictions, reports that 101 license holders were convicted of crimes-including one for murder, four for terroristic threat, three for sexual assault of a child, 19 for deadly conduct and 45 for some other form of assault-in 2009, the most recent year for which data are available. Texas Dcp't of Pub. Safety, Reg. Servs. Div., Conviction Rates for Concealed Handgun License Holders (2009), available at: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/crime records/chl/ConvictionRate sReport2009.pdf. Before Texas law limited reporting to convictions, Texas had reported that license holders were arrested for 5,314 crimes from January 1, 1996 through August 31, 200 l. Karen Brock & Marty Langley, License to Kill IV, More Guns, More Crime, Violence Policy Center, 2 (2002).
Looking more closely at that report, the last line in the statistics table notes that the 101 convictions of CHL holders is out of a total of 65,561
convictions. Well, that juicy tidbit got skipped right over. That means that CHL holders accounted for 0.1541% of those convictions. (I haven't done the math. I'm just going off the table. Dammit Jim, I'm a lawyer, not a mathematician!)