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A federal judge last week overturned a key provision in Maryland's strict gun laws, calling the requirement that residents demonstrate a "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun unconstitutionally broad.
The Washington Post reports that the ruling, made public on Monday, is a major victory for gun rights advocates, who see the decision as a boon to their efforts to challenge similar laws in a half dozen other states.
In his 23-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg cites the Second Amendment, and argues that the law unconstitutionally limits residents' rights under the amendment because the provision neither reduces crime nor protects public safety.
Legg called the provision a "rationing system" that does little to "advance the interests of public safety" by keeping guns away from criminals or the mentally ill, arguing that it does no more to prevent crime than would "a law indiscriminately limiting the issuance of a permit to every tenth applicant." He concluded: "The Court finds that the right to bear arms is not limited to the home." (The Balitmore Sun has the full opinion posted here.)
As the Post explains, gun control advocates believe that the opinion removes an important safeguard from the state's power to determine who can carry a gun. Under state law, residents seeking a permit will still have to prove that they're not addicted to drugs or alcohol, have no record of violence, and haven't spent more than a year behind bars.