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Woollard v. Gallagher, No. 12-1437

Decided: March 21, 2013

The Fourth Circuit reversed the judgment of district court, which permanently enjoined enforcement of § 5-306(a)(5)(ii) of the Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code which conditions carrying a handgun in public on having “good and substantial reason to do so.”  The Fourth Circuit held that the good-and-substantial-reason requirement was constitutional, and thus did not have to address the district court’s “trailblazing pronouncement that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends outside the home.”

Four primary categories of applicants demonstrate “good and substantial reason[s]” to obtain a handgun permit: (1) business activities, (2) regulated professions, (3) “assumed risk” professions, and (4) personal protection.  For personal protection, the Permit Unit considers whether the applicant needs a handgun permit as a safeguard against “apprehended danger.”   On July 20, 2010, Raymond Wollard and the Second Amendment Foundation, Inc., initiated this action asserting that Maryland’s good-and-substantial-reason requirement for obtaining a handgun permit contravenes the Second Amendment.  Wollard was attacked in his home by his son-in-law and restored order with his personal guns.  Wollard subsequently applied for a handgun permit and was denied.

The case is decided under the two-part Chester inquiry: (1) whether the challenged law imposes a burden on conduct within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee, and (2) application of an appropriate form of means-ends scrutiny.  Courts are not obliged to impart a definitive ruling under the first step, and many courts instead resolve post-Heller challenges under the second step.  The Fourth Circuit applies intermediate scrutiny and holds that the State has satisfied the standard as the good-and-substantial-reason requirement for obtaining a Maryland handgun permit is reasonably adapted to a substantial governmental interest.

Full Opinion

-Jenna Hendricks