"Good and Substantial Reason" is Unconstitutional
On June 23, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA) v. Bruen, striking down as unconstitutional New York's "proper cause" requirement for issuance of a permit to carry a handgun in public. That decision is directly applicable to Maryland's "good and substantial reason" requirement for the issuance of Maryland carry permits. MD Code, Public Safety, 5-306(b)(6)(ii). As Bruen now holds, the Maryland State Police (MSP) may not require any "good and substantial reason" before issuing a permit. The decision makes clear that law-abiding, responsible adults have a constitutional right to protect themselves beyond their homes with a handgun, which is the "quintessential self-defense" weapon, as the Supreme Court held in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). While we believe that the Court's holding in Bruen is clear, MSI is currently a party in Call v. Jones, which is a federal court challenge to the "good and substantial reason" requirement. This case is currently before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and was being held in abeyance (on pause) pending the outcome of Bruen. Now that Bruen has been decided, that case will proceed. Indeed, the Fourth Circuit has just issued an order setting a briefing schedule in that appeal.
Maryland need only announce that it will comply with Bruen and no longer require an applicant to provide a good and substantial reason, just as New Jersey has just announced with respect to its "good cause" requirement for carry permits. See HERE. So far, the MSP has only released a bulletin noting that they are aware of the Supreme Court's decision and that it is "under legal review with the MD Attorney General’s Office" and that further guidance will be forthcoming. If Maryland refuses to follow Bruen, the litigation in Call is designed to force that result upon Maryland through an injunction. We are hoping that Maryland will exercise good sense and not attempt to defy the Supreme Court.
We encourage all law-abiding, responsible adults who want to carry a handgun in public to apply now. For the time being, all of Maryland's other requirements for issuance of permits are still in full effect, including training and fingerprinting, which must be completed before submitting the application. The State Police are still entitled to conduct a background investigation of each applicant and may still deny permits to persons who have "exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person's possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another." See MD Code, Public Safety, 5-306(b)(6)(i). We have prepared a guide on how to navigate this process HERE. MSI is committed to assisting members through this process.
Marylanders have long awaited this day when they no longer needed to show that they were "special" enough to legally carry a handgun for self-defense. Maryland's permitting scheme dates back to 1972 and has kept the average Marylander from doing so. Maryland's law has led to countless arrests and prosecutions of individuals who merely want to be able to defend themselves. With the decision in Bruen, that sad legacy will come to an end.
We are also actively challenging a Montgomery County so-called "ghost gun" ordinance in State court. Likewise pending are MSI's challenges to the Anne Arundel County's dealer security bill and the County's compelled speech ordinance directed at dealers. The First Amendment and Fourth Amendment lawsuit challenging the unlawful arrests of Jeff and Kevin Hulbert for peaceful picketing in Annapolis is ongoing and will not be over anytime soon. MSI is a party to that lawsuit as well. More lawsuits may well be on the menu as we take stock of Bruen. We will remain active in Annapolis during the legislative session, presenting testimony and advocacy that helps prevent bad bills from being enacted in the first place.
Gun control groups are not giving up and we can't either. But, we need your help. Litigation is not cheap and just maintaining MSI as a viable corporate organization isn't either. If you are not a member, please stop being a free-rider and join. If you are a member, thank you for your support, and please renew your membership when it comes up for annual renewal. We welcome and need donations at any level. All the officers and Board members of MSI are volunteers and work without compensation. These officers and Board members render high-quality professional services to MSI for free. This is truly a grassroots organization. Join and/or donate HERE.