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Federal judge rules Maryland gun law unconstitutional

A judge for the US District Court for the District of Maryland [official website] ruled [opinion] Friday that a portion of Maryland's handgun permit law is unconstitutional because it violates the Second Amendment [text]. Judge Benson Everett Legg ruled that the law limited individuals' rights to obtaining a permit by requiring a "good and substantial reason," and that requirement was not reasonably adapted to a substantial government interest of public safety or crime prevention. Legg wrote, "A citizen may not be required to offer a good and substantial reason why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right's existence is all the reason he needs." The constitutionality of other portions of the permit law were not addressed by the court. The plaintiff's attorney in the case recognized that most states have licensing systems and all that is sought by the plaintiff is one that is straightforward and objective [AP report]. The removal of the ambiguous language "good and substantial reason" should accomplish this goal. The defendant, the Maryland Attorney General's Office [official website], is still reviewing the opinion.

In July 2010 Chicago citizens filed suit [JURIST report] against the city's gun control ordinance claiming it was unconstitutional. The law was approved [JURIST report] just four days after the US Supreme Court [official website] ruled in McDonald v. Chicago [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that the Second Amendment applies to states and municipalities as well as the federal government. The court's ruling in McDonald cited the holding in District of Columbia v. Heller [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] where the court held that the Second Amendment protects the right to possess a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense. The District of Columbia enacted a new series of firearm regulations following the court's ruling in Heller. The regulations were upheld [JURIST report] by a federal judge who cited Heller, holding that the Second Amendment does not prohibit regulation of firearms where that regulation will "effectuate the goal of promoting public safety."

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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