RICHMOND Attorneys for the state of Maryland argued Wednesday in federal court that a law requiring residents to provide a good and substantial reason for seeking handgun permits is a reasonable restriction that promotes safety without violating the Second Amendment.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Wednesday from the state and from gun-rights advocates on opposite sides of a U.S. District Court decision that struck down the law as unconstitutional.
State attorneys argued the requirement is no different from many common restrictions placed on permit applicants, while their opponents contended that the state is unlawfully forcing residents to explain why they want to exercise a fundamental right.
Were certainly not asking the court to tell Maryland how to regulate handguns, said Alan Gura, a prominent gun-rights attorney representing the plaintiff in the case. All were saying is that they proceed with the understanding that there is an issue of fundamental rights here.
The three-judge panel peppered the attorneys with questions during Wednesdays proceedings, which lasted about 45 minutes.
Many of their questions centered on how Marylands law compares to restrictions on handgun permits in other states, and whether previous court cases establish or deny a right to carry handguns outside ones home.
Maryland Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fader argued that the states restriction is no less legitimate than other widely accepted regulations on the Second Amendment, such as outlawing gun possession in certain public places or denying permits to people with histories of violence.
What the plaintiffs want is not the right to carry for self-defense, but to carry for no reason at all, said Mr. Fader, who criticized the lower courts decision as an activist ruling delivered in broad political consensus against gun control.
After court adjourned, State Police Secretary Col. Marcus L. Brown said that he considers the law to be a crucial safety measure that has helped to reduce gun violence.
Our number-one responsibility is fighting crime, he said. And if the state feels this is the way to do it, then Maryland State Police supports the law.
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Maryland defends state gun law