Monday, March 12, 2012
By Paul Martin

By Attorney Jonathan Emord
March 12, 2012

On March 2, Judge Benson Everett Legg of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland decided that Maryland’s handgun regulation violated the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. This well-reasoned decision stands as important precedent against the exercise of arbitrary will by state authorities who wish to deprive citizens of their right to carry handguns outside the home for purposes of self-defense. In an age of increasing lawlessness and less than adequate police protection, this decision helps shift the balance in favor of the right to bear arms, reasserting the primacy of the Founding Fathers’ construct.

It was just one month ago that United States Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer suffered first hand the indignity and horror of an armed confrontation that could have been altered fundamentally had a person in his entourage been armed with a gun. Justice Breyer was robbed by a machete-wielding robber at his vacation home on the Caribbean Island of Nevis. One wonders if Justice Breyer or another in his entourage had trained a handgun on the intruder whether that would have dissuaded him from the robbery. While every circumstance is unique, and it may have been the better part of valor in Breyer’s robbery to simply allow the intruder to abscond with cash, clearly if the robber threatened the lives of the Justice, his wife, and his friends, resort to a handgun could have evened the score in a manner akin to Indiana Jones’ dispatch of his scimitar-wielding opponent in “Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb.”

At least in Maryland, citizens will enjoy the right to do just that and more. In Woollard v. Sheridan, et. al., Judge Legg confronted a Maryland law that permitted Maryland’s Handgun Permit Review Board to refuse a gun permit to anyone the board believed failed to demonstrate “good and substantial reason” for having a handgun. The plaintiff, Raymond Woollard, lived on a farm in rural Baltimore County. On Christmas Eve 2002, an intruder broke a window in his home and entered his house. The intruder was Woollard’s son-in-law, Kris Lee Abbott, who was high on drugs. Woollard trained a shotgun on Abbott who then wrestled the gun away from Woollard, but Woollard was rescued by his son who pointed another gun at Abbott until police arrived and arrested the burglar. Abbott was convicted of first degree burglary and sentenced to three years’ probation. Abbott later violated his probation by assaulting a police officer and committing another burglary.

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