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Maryland Suspends Unconstitutional Requirements For Concealed-Carry Permits

By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin

Annapolis, MD – Maryland Governor Larry Hogan directed the Maryland State Police on Tuesday to suspend the “good and substantial reason” standard the state had previously required to obtain “wear and carry” handgun permits after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar law in New York.

Hogan said on July 5 that the New York handgun law that had been deemed unconstitutional by the nation’s highest court “is virtually indistinguishable from Maryland law,” WTOP reported.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the governor said he had asked the state police to immediately suspend the “good and substantial reason” standard it had been using to review applications for Maryland wear and carry permits.

He said it would be unconstitutional for the state to continue to enforce a law that the Supreme Court had already found overly restrictive, WTOP reported.

“It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law. There is no impact on other permitting requirements and protocols,” Hogan said.

Applicants must still meet all the other requirements of state law, be fingerprinted, and pass a background check before a concealed-carry permit will be issued, according to the Maryland State Police.

California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Rhode Island also have laws that are similar to the New York one that was overturned, WTOP reported.

On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a New York law requiring residents to have “proper cause” in order to legally carry a handgun outside their homes, USA Today reported.

Under the century-old New York state law, applicants had to demonstrate a need for a concealed-carry permit or gun license that is greater than the rest of the general public.

A general desire for self-protection did not meet the requirements of “proper cause” under the New York law.

The Supreme Court voted 6-3 on June 23 to strike down the law and said it violated New Yorkers’ Constitutional rights.

“New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on behalf of the majority, according to USA Today.

“The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,’” Thomas continued, according to NBC News. “We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need.”

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that the decision does not block states from mandating background checks, fingerprinting, mental health record checks, and other requirements before issuing handgun permits.

Kavanaugh said the problem with New York’s law was that it granted “open-ended discretion to licensing officials and authorizes licenses only for those applicants who can show some special need apart from self-defense,” NBC News reported.

As a result, citizens have been denied the right to carry a gun for self-protection.

In a dissent written by Justice Stephen Breyer, he argued that many states have tried to address gun violence by implementing laws that “limit, in various ways, who may purchase, carry, or use firearms…” USA Today reported.

“The court today severely burdens states’ efforts to do so,” Breyer claimed.

Breyer wrote that he believes that the Second Amendment allows states to take into account the seriousness of gun violence in order to implement strict gun laws.

New Jersey, Maryland, California, and at least three other Democratic-led states also have similar gun licensing requirements, USA Today reported.

The case marked the first time the nation’s highest court took up a gun rights case since it ruled in favor of the plaintiff in District of Columbia v. Heller in 2008, NBC News reported.

The Supreme Court found in that case that DC law was unconstitutional because the Second Amendment provided an individual the right to keep a handgun in the home for self-defense.

The latest case challenged New York state law that prohibits residents from concealed carry unless they can demonstrate “a special need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession,” NBC News reported.

Paul Clement, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said New York’s law “makes it virtually impossible for the ordinary law-abiding citizen” to get a conceal-carry license.

Two of the plaintiffs who joined the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association’s lawsuit said they wanted a concealed handgun to keep themselves safe, NBC News reported.

Robert Nash wanted to carry a gun because there had been a lot of robberies in his neighborhood and Brendan Koch also cited a desire to carry a concealed gun for protection.

The lawsuit said both men completed gun safety courses and applied for permits, and both were turned down, NBC News reported.

Clement said that New York law is so restrictive that it cannot be reconciled with the Supreme Court’s “affirmation of the individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”

Federal courts have been split on what the Second Amendment means by the right “to keep and bear arms,” NBC News reported.

In New York, that was been further aggravated by the attorney general’s assertion that the right is subject to state regulation, even in the case of laws and regulations that infringe on the Second Amendment.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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