Helen Whalen Cohen

Fans of the Second Amendment know that Maryland doesn't have the most gun-friendly laws out there. But thanks to a district court decision on Monday, that may be changing.

In the decision Woolard v. Sheridan, a Maryland statute requiring residents to have a 'good and substantial reason' for obtaining a concealed carry permit was struck down after a judge found that it violates the Second Amendment. Courtesy of the Volokh Conspiracy, here are the facts:

Plaintiff Woollard initially obtained a handgun carry permit after he was assaulted by an intruder in his home in 2002. The permit was renewed in 2005. At that time, the intruder had recently been released from prison, providing a “good and substantial reason” for Woollard to carry a firearm. In 2009, Woollard again sought to renew his permit so that he could carry a handgun for self defense. MSP Secretary Sheridan denied Woollard’s application, however, because Woollard failed to provide sufficient evidence “to support apprehended fear.”

The post definitely worth a full read for all the facts. What it boils down to, though, is that requiring a 'good and substantial reason' to carry a firearm in public is a violation of the Second Amendment. To quote the opinion, "[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." This case builds on DC v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, both of which state that individuals may invoke Second Amendment rights at home for self-defense. Now this decision holds that individuals may exercise their Second Amendment rights outside of the home, extending them to hunting. We'll see what happens after it heads to the Fourth Circuit.

While we're on the topic of self defense, the Cato Institute has a great study out. It's called Tough Targets and it details how Americans use guns to defend themselves. Not only does it make the point that armed citizens lead to a reduction in crime, but it comes with a map showing specific instances of individuals using firearms to protect themselves. When most media outlets report the number of firearm-related accidental deaths, it can be easy to forget that there are many times more people using firearms to stop crimes from ever happening. Every year, women, senior citizens  and even hostages use firearms to protect themselves from becoming victims. My favorite anecdote is the one in which an 82 year old former beauty queen in Kentucky holds two would-be thieves at gunpoint.

On April 13, 2007, Venus Ramey spied an unfamiliar truck parked against her farm building, and immediately suspected that habitual scrap metal thieves had returned. Upon being confronted, one of them, Curtis Parrish, promised they'd leave. The 82-year-old woman leaned on her walker, pulled out a .38 revolver, said, 'no you won't,' and shot his car tire. She then held the two at gunpoint for police. Ramey is a former Miss America.

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As is stated in Tough Targets, if harm reduction is the goal when it comes to firearms legislation, the lawmakers ought to consider the harm reduction that accompanies an armed citizenry. No one should have to ask a bureaucrat for permission to defend themselves. Hopefully decisions like the one in Woollard v. Sheridan mean that fewer people will have to.


Helen Whalen Cohen

Helen Whalen Cohen is Associate Editor and Community Manager at Townhall.com.