Fourth Circuit Upholds Restriction on the Public Possession of Handguns

In a closely watched case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a significant decision on March 21, in which it affirmed the ability of state law enforcement to limit the carrying of guns in public places. Reversing the decision of a federal district court in Maryland, the circuit court held that a requirement under Maryland law – that an individual demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” in order to qualify for a permit to carry a handgun in public – does not violate the Second Amendment.

Notably, the Fourth Circuit rebuked the district court for making a “trailblazing pronouncement that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense extends outside the home” and it advised courts that they should await direction from the U.S. Supreme Court before determining whether or to what extent the Second Amendment might protect the possession of firearms in public.

The decision confirms that reasonable restrictions on carrying of handguns in public are constitutional, even if they strictly limit the number of individuals who may carry a handgun. As the Fourth Circuit explained, “The State has clearly demonstrated that the good-and-substantial-reason requirement advances the objectives of protecting public safety and preventing crime because it reduces the number of handguns carried in public. That is, limiting the public carry of handguns protects citizens and inhibits crime.”

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Federal Appeals Court Upholds New York’s Concealed Handgun Licensing Law

Brett A. Clark/The Daily Advance

Around the country, courts are confronting a critical question: whether the Second Amendment requires states to issue concealed handgun licenses to virtually anyone who wants one.

This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit addressed that question, holding that New York’s requirement that concealed carry applicants show “a special need for self-protection” does not violate the Second Amendment.  In Kachalsky v. Cacace, the court explained that the requirement of a showing of need is substantially related to the government’s important interests in preventing crime and guaranteeing public safety.  The court found that the requirement is consistent with gun regulation that has existed since the nation’s founding, noting, “[t]here is a longstanding tradition of states regulating firearm possession and use in public because of the dangers posed to public safety.”  New York has required a showing of need for carrying a concealed weapon for 100 years.

While many states issue a concealed handgun license to virtually anyone who applies, states like California and New York require an applicant to show a legitimate need to carry a gun in public, usually by presenting documentation of a real threat to the applicant’s safety.  Those requirements are now under attack in a number of Second Amendment lawsuits nationwide brought by individuals who have no legitimate need to carry guns in public places.

Thankfully, the courts are standing up for the safety of their citizens and protecting the laws that work to reduce the violence that plagues their communities. For more this trend, read our publication, The Second Amendment Battleground: Victories in the Courts and Why They Matter.

To find out more about this case, read the decision in Kachalsky v. Cacace.

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