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Woollard v. Gallagher Amicus Brief

Case information: Woollard v. Gallagher, No. 12-1437 (4th Cir., Filed June 22, 2012)

At issue:Challenging Maryland’s open carry law. Woollard involves an appeal from the District Court for the District of Maryland, which declared Maryland’s concealed carry permit law to be an impermissible infringement on the Second Amendment. The law required that in order to be granted a permit, the applicant must have “a good and substantial reason.” The court held that the Second Amendment extended to places outside the home, and applied intermediate scrutiny, finding the law “insufficiently tailored to the State’s interest in public safety and crime prevention.” The court rejected Plaintiff’s claim that the First Amendment doctrine of prior restraint applied to the law.

Law Center’s Brief: Our brief, filed in support of Maryland’s concealed carry law, argues that the right recognized in  District of Columbia v. Heller   is limited to the home. The brief explains that public carry was not understood to be part of the right both before and at the time of the adoption of the Second Amendment. The law at issue is “presumptively lawful” according to Heller because it is part of the longstanding tradition of similar restrictions, including ones upheld by 19th century courts. The brief argues that the District Court erred in expanding the right beyond Heller at odds with the judicial restraint endorsed by the 4th Circuit and because similar restrictions have been held constitutional post- Heller.

Alternatively, the brief argues that even if the right extends to carrying a handgun in public the law would easily be upheld under intermediate scrutiny. Intermediate scrutiny only requires a reasonable fit between a regulation and a substantial government interest. Because the law allows those who demonstrate a need to carry a weapon in public to do so, it fits reasonably between the right and public safety. Finally, the brief argues that the prior restraint doctrine does not apply because the Second Amendment affords a private right, rather than the public right under the First Amendment, and because laws like Maryland’s statute are presumptively lawful, while those infringing on the First Amendment are presumptively invalid.

 Read the full text of our amicus brief here.