Whalen v Handgun Permit Review Board Argued Before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals

In this case, the appellant, Holmes Whalen, was denied a carry permit by the Maryland State Police and that denial was sustained by the Handgun Permit Review Board.  Mr. Whalen challenged that denial in circuit court, contending Maryland's "good and substantial reason" requirement for a carry permit was unconstitutional and that prior Maryland precedent have been superseded by subsequent Supreme Court holdings. 

The circuit court nonetheless sustained the good and substantial reason requirement and Mr. Whalen appealed to the the Court of Special Appeals, Maryland's intermediate appellate court. The appeal was fully briefed over the summer and was orally argued before a three-judge panel of the court on November 4.  Mr. Whalen was represented on this appeal by the President of Maryland Shall Issue. 

It is, of course, difficult to predict the outcome of any case from oral argument.  At oral argument, the State AG's Office did concede (properly) that while Supreme Court decisions are binding, the Maryland state courts are not bound by lower federal court decisions, including the Fourth Circuit's decision in Woollard, where the court sustained the good and substantial reason requirement.  The issue is thus presented for the first time in the Maryland courts since the Supreme Court decided Heller in 2008 and applied that ruling to the States in McDonald in 2010.  In our view, Mr. Whalen has the much better argument on the law on this issue, especially given the D.C. Circuit's recent decision in Wrenn and in the Ninth Circuit panel's decision in Young.  There is a chance that the court will await guidance from the Supreme Court in the pending NYSRPA case (which will be argued on December 2).  Should Mr. Whalen lose in the Court of Special Appeals, then he could file a petition for certiorari to Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals.  From there, any appeal would go to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Stay tuned.


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The Dangers of Maryland's Carry Laws

On August 12, 2021, Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that a violation of Md. Criminal Law § 4-203(a)(1)(i) is a strict liability crime. Put simply, if one has a handgun on or about them and is not authorized to do so, they are guilty of violating the law. The case is Lawrence v. State, 471 Md. 101 (2021).

Section 4-203 is the statute that broadly prohibits the wear, carry, or transport of handguns within the State. Specifically, § 4-203(a)(1)(i) states:

 (a)    (1)    Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a person may not:

            (i)    wear, carry, or transport a handgun, whether concealed or open, on or about the person;

There are a few exceptions to this ban (found in subsection (b) of Section 4-203), such as one having a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit, possession in the home or business (by the business owner), or when transporting an unloaded handgun (kept in an enclosed case or enclosed holster) between a gun shop and one's residence or from their residence to a gun range. But, outside these sharply limited exceptions set out in subsection (b), the passage above otherwise broadly criminalizes having a pistol on (or about) the person. 

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MSI v. Montgomery County Update

On June 16, 2021, we filed an emergency motion for partial summary judgment on three of our counts against Montgomery County's enactment of Bill 4-21. The motion seeks to enjoin the County from enforcing their new illegal laws which will go into effect on July 16th without action from the Court. Find the motion HERE and the memorandum in support HERE. As we have stated previously, we will not sit idle while politicians make criminals of ordinary and law-abiding residents. You can learn more and find updates about this case at tinyurl.com/msivmoco.

Taking these challenges is not possible without your support! Consider becoming a member of MSI, donating, or wearing MSI apparel or picking up our accessories.

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Maryland Shall Issue®, Inc.
9613 Harford Rd
Ste C #1015
Baltimore, MD 21234-2150

Phone:  410-849-9197
Email: 
Web:   www.marylandshallissue.org