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Maryland handgun laws ruled outside scope of Second Amendment

Maryland’s law restricting gun possession outside the home without a permit does not conflict with recent Supreme Court rulings that the constitutional right to keep and bear arms extends to individuals, Maryland’s highest court held Wednesday.

The Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the 2008 conviction of Charles Francis Williams Jr., who bought his handgun legally but was arrested outside his home for violating a state provision on carriage and transport. Williams challenged his conviction based on District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, Supreme Court decisions from 2008 and last year, respectively, that extended Second Amendment rights to individuals and to the states.

Judge Lynne A. Battaglia, writing for a unanimous court, sided with the state, noting other state courts have reached similar conclusions in cases involving their handgun laws. The Maryland case is Charles F. Williams Jr. v. State, No. 16, Sept. Term, 2010.

“It is the exception permitting home possession … that takes the statutory scheme embodied in Section 4-203 outside of the scope of the Second Amendment, as articulated in Heller and McDonald,” Battaglia wrote.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who argued the case on behalf of the state, said the issue before the Maryland court was straightforward.

“The question was purely a legal one,” he said. “It was not that complicated of a case.”

James B. Hopewell, Williams’ lawyer, was disappointed by the opinion.

“We believe the law strongly supported our position,” said Hopewell, a Riverdale solo practitioner. “My client should not be prosecuted and criminalized for something that is not a crime.”

Williams bought his handgun legally from a licensed dealer in August 2007 but had not applied for a permit, according to the opinion. He had no prior criminal record, Hopewell said.

Two months later, a Prince George’s County police officer saw Williams searching a backpack near the woods, according to the opinion. Williams told the officer he had hidden his gun in the bushes, and he was arrested for unlawful gun possession.

Williams was convicted in October 2008 and sentenced to three years in prison with all but one year suspended. His sentence had been on hold while his appeals were being heard, although Hopewell said Wednesday he did not know when Williams would begin serving time.

The Court of Special Appeals affirmed Williams’ conviction in October 2009.

Battaglia dismissed Williams’ claim that McDonald extends Second Amendment rights outside the home. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote for the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment protects “most notably” self-defense within the home, a point Hopewell seized on in oral arguments.

“Although Williams attempts to find succor in this dicta, it is clear that prohibition of firearms in the home was the gravamen of the certiorari questions in both Heller and McDonald and their answers,” the judge wrote. “If the Supreme Court, in this dicta, meant its holding to extend beyond home possession, it will need to say so more plainly.”

Said Hopewell: “It sort of seemed they were trying to kick this case up to the Supreme Court.”

Gansler disagreed, but said he would not be surprised if future cases before the Supreme Court challenge local and state gun laws.

“I think there will be other cases coming down the road regarding the scope of the Second Amendment,” he said.

Judge Joseph F. Murphy, in a concurring opinion, objected to Battaglia using the phrase “outside the scope of the Second Amendment,” writing that the Second Amendment is “‘satisfied’ by a statute that places reasonable restrictions on the constitutional right to bear arms.”

WHAT THE COURT HELD

Case:

Charles Francis Williams Jr. v. State of Maryland, No. 16, Sept. Term 2010. Opinion by Battaglia, J. Murphy, J. concurs. Filed Jan. 5, 2011.

Issue:

Does Maryland’s gun law restricting possession outside the home conflict with recent Supreme Court rulings regarding the scope of the Second Amendment?

Holding:

No; the Supreme Court rulings deal with gun possession inside the home, which the Maryland restriction does not implicate.

Counsel:

James B. Hopewell for petitioner; Douglas F. Gansler for respondent.

RecordFax#11-0105-20 (27 pages)

20 comments

  1. that headline is a smidge confusing, shouldn’t it be inside the scope, if MD’s law is compatible with the 2nd amendment?

  2. Cybrarian is 100% correct. That headline does not mean what I think you think it means, Danny Jacobs (or editor)

  3. Thanks for the comments. We took the phrase “outside the scope” directly from the opinion. The headnote says the following:

    Section 4-203(a)(1)(i) of the Criminal Law Article, which prohibits wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun in public, without a permit, is outside of the scope of the Second Amendment as explicated by the United States Supreme Court in Heller and McDonald because that Section does not implicate gun ownership for personal protection in the home.

    In other words, Maryland law allows for gun ownership inside your home for self-defense, so it is not affected by (or outside the scope of) the Supreme Court rulings. Hope this clears things up.

  4. This is out rage. The MD court of appeals is a bunch of liars and usurpers who should be charged with treason. First the language in both Heller and McDonald is based on the constitution which clearly states to keep and “bear” arms. The founders certainly were not thinking you would be bearing arms in your house. When the founders felt it necessary they readily referred to homes as they did in the 3rd and 4th amendments. The SCOTUS refers to all lawful purposes such as defense in the home but this was not meant to be limiting but rather to serve as an example of lawful purpose. The MD courts got it wrong and this will undoubtedly be appealed to the SCOTUS.

  5. It’s truly amazing that ‘lawyers’ pretend to not ‘understand’ “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED”, and twist and pervert the supreme law of the land. Section 4-203(a)(1)(i) of the Criminal Law Article, prohibits wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun in public, without a permit. So when you buy a hand gun from a licensed dealer, the question would then be IF one needs ‘Permission’ from the state via a permit? which clearly violates the 2nd Amd.,then HOW would Mr. Williams Jr. have gotten his weapon home??? The courts decision id frivoulous, and the Maryland law itself clearly violates the 2nd Amd. The judge wrote. “If the Supreme Court, in this dicta, meant its holding to extend beyond home possession, it will need to say so more plainly.”????? That judge should perhaps READ the Second Amendment, AND the 1998 US Supreme Court Sheriffs Mack/Printz Ruling. The problem in this country is that the police “Constitutional Guardians” don’t KNOW or UNDERSTAND our Constitution or laws ‘themselves’, and the lawyers twist and pervert the true meaing and intent of the Constitution, and apply unconstitutional state laws that are ‘null and void’. Perhap he should have had the licened gun dealer bring the gun to his home, therefore the licensed gun dealer could have carried and transported it to him without any unconstitutional ‘permission’ slips from the state.

  6. The law itself is flawed.. How do you legally transport it to your home to protect it?

  7. The law allows for transport to/from a dealer/place of repair. I own a gun, and wish the law regarding carrying one to be changed, but I also know the laws. So should anyone who has two cents to add. No one will listen if you just spout off inaccurate information.

  8. 10 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. HELLER
    Opinion of the Court
    At the time of the founding, as now, to “bear” meant to
    “carry.” See Johnson 161; Webster; T. Sheridan, A Complete
    Dictionary of the English Language (1796); 2 Oxford
    English Dictionary 20 (2d ed. 1989) (hereinafter Oxford).
    When used with “arms,” however, the term has a meaning
    that refers to carrying for a particular purpose—
    confrontation. In Muscarello v. United States, 524 U. S.
    125 (1998), in the course of analyzing the meaning of
    “carries a firearm” in a federal criminal statute, JUSTICE
    GINSBURG wrote that “[s]urely a most familiar meaning is,
    as the Constitution’s Second Amendment . . . indicate[s]:
    ‘wear, bear, or carry . . . upon the person or in the clothing
    or in a pocket, for the purpose . . . of being armed and
    ready for offensive or defensive action in a case of conflict
    with another person.’ ” Id., at 143 (dissenting opinion)

  9. Any one who has studied the philosophy of language knows that there is a difference between bear, beer and bare.

    Bear: To hold or carry
    Beer: A fermented alcoholic beverage
    Bare: without covering or clothing

    The second amendment could therefore be no more clear in its language as was the SCOTUS when it confirmed that this amendment not only protects an individual rights but that is was incorporated in 1868 with the passage of the 14th amendment. Due racism and their desire to control the people especially poor black people, the MD courts have once again exposed law abiding citizens to unnecessary risks, fees, fines and even jail for merely exercising a right. There is no other example of this type of tolerate infringement despite the fact that the 2nd also protects against infringement.

  10. I’m a left-leaning person but I have to agree with the other posters here that the second amendment protects the rights of citizens to carry deadly weapons (arms). The second amendment does not protect the right to carry concealed weapons but Maryland’s law is certainly restrictive in the “bear and carry” sense. Marylanders should at least be allowed to open-carry similar status to California – unloaded weapon but loaded magazines or speed-loaders.

  11. Have not read MD gun statutory laws in detail yet, but understand from others that you can only possess a legally purchased gun inside your home. if you step outside it with your gun unconcealed to carry to and keep in your a car for protection, unless you are going to a shooting range (even then it has to be unloaded), you are subject to a prison sentence like the guy in the subject case, though u do not have a criminal record, have not brandish it, nor threaten or intimidated anyone. What is the point then in owning a gun? That is the 2nd amendment constitutional violation. You are prohibited and punished for simply having a gun which is the expressed intent of the 2nd amendment. It is presumbly a felony conviction, so now you cannot legally purchase a gun to possess even in the home because you are now a “criminal”, so on. The conclusive statement of the SCOTUS case that “it will need to say so more plainly” is just simple. Ignore the intent completely. Meanwhile real criminal bear and use guns against the very people who are subject to criminal punishment if they try to protect themselves. Its no wonder that Baltimore’s homicide rate stays in the top five consistently. the gun laws are crazy!

  12. The quickest way to fix Maryland gun laws are to start voting for legislators that favor individual rights.

    Maryland has been a very left-wing state, including heavy, arguably unconstitutional restrictions on guns.

    The “permit” for bearing arms in Maryland is a very poor attempt to stay within the bounds of the Constitution — while such permits are allowable by the second amendment, you can’t just say “you need a permit” and then deny 99% of all permit requests. Almost nobody in the state of Maryland can qualify for the permit! It’s a sham. As a regular citizen with no criminal record, I have no ability get a permit that lets me exercise my second amendment rights outside of my home.

    The court challenges are good and I hope to see them continue but voting out the anti-gun legislators would be a good alternative.

  13. This may be a Miranda case. Based only on the printed story it seems the policeman saw the Williams put down something on the ground which was out of the ordinary conduct. When asked what he had put down Williams answered truthfully, \My gun.\ The policeman goes over, looks down, sees the gun, bends over, picks it up, walks back to Williams. AT this point the case has risen to an investigation into a crime, and the witness now should be given the Miranda warning before further questioning. If NOT given, the case ought to have been tossed out. If given and Williams continued to talk, then for him, \it’s all over.\ The punishment inflicted however, is far too severe for the harm done. And for Williams lack of any criminal intent. A technicality. That’s my opinion.

  14. The fact Mr Williams bought his handgun legally from a licensed dealer in August 2007 is not in question. Nor should his not applying for a permit have any barring on the case simply because you are not required to gain a permit to own a handgun in the state. “yet!” If he owned the handgun and the clip was not loaded and not in the weapon he was in compliance with the law. However it seems that he was not in compliance by the fact he told the officer he had hidden his firearm in the bushes, now lets stop and think about this statement for a moment, I like to use a saying I coined a very long time ago: “Ignorance is universal but stupidity is individualized” The mere fact Mr Williams hid his weapon in the bushes, tell me he is not someone who should possess a firearm in the first place. The gun laws in the state of Maryland, though over regulatory and extremely unfriendly to gun owners, gain credence do to the sheer negligence of people like Mr Williams, I have another saying that comes to mine at this time and sounds something like this; “if stupidity was against the law half the country would be behind bars” He should serve his time based on these facts, However: If he was arrested for unlawful gun possession and could prove he owned the weapon the charges should have been dropped, likewise until stupidity becomes a chargeable offense Mr Williams should have been set free with his weapon returned once he could comply with proper safety and transport rules.

  15. I listen to and read more news today about how brazen the bad people have become in the state of maryland baltimore city and abroad at a alarming rate and it surely bothers me so much that we marylanders cant get a permit to cary unless we are a political figure or a police officer.This permit law in maryland is that strict.A man in the news was in front of his own house and robbed threatend forced to go in his home and give up his personal property then at gun point forced into his car and made to with draw his money to give to two armed men the hole time being terrorized with no way to defend himself if that is not bad enough the police kept it out of the media and did not inform the nieghbers the victim did at a nieghborhood meeting.There is now way know or in the future the police can keep us safe from the crimes these people are doing to us good loyal law abiding hard working people.I donot want to become a number in the news paper that says there were five less killings this year then lsat year.Please give us a fighting chance to protect our selfs outside the home from these home grown terrorist.

  16. Law abiding citizen

    I would tell the state of Maryland to go to hell. Move out here to Arizona Like I did 15 years ago where you can carry a loaded concealed weapon legally Without a Permit. I was tired of California gun laws. It is a crime in Maryland for what they are doing to the constitution. Like I said come out to Arizona and give us your tax money and the hell with Maryland. We will welcome you. I guess the state of Maryland has nothing better to do with taxpayers money but to put good citizens in jail. Shame on you Maryland!!!!Think about it the next time you vote folks.

  17. Been living here in Maryland for over 8 years, originally here from Florida (wow big change far as gun laws goes). I was very surprised to learn that to qualify for a conceal permit here, one has to be a VICTIM first, then be LUCKY ENOUGH TO SURVIVE THE VIOLENT ATTACK, and even then they can still turn down your application for a permit. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought the purpose of a gun was to prevent one from being a victim in the first place.

    Now I just bought a house in NE Baltimore (starting to regret this) and became a victim of a burglary, they took a lot of my valuables when I was away. Now its true having a gun on me would not have prevented the burglary, but me walking in on them and getting shot by my own guns they stole does not sit easy for me. I think me living in Baltimore alone should be enough reason to qualify me for a conceal permit.

    Maryland allowing conceal permit will raise much needed revenue for the State and also lower the crime rate (seems like a win win situation).

    Now I am a Democrat, but I am willing to Vote Republican this time if we can get the right people in power. I don’t care who, but the next Politician to support Conceal Permit gets my VOTE!

  18. If they read the 2nd amendment they’d know under no circumstances could they infringe the right to bear-carry a firearm anywhere. It was not their business to know what weapon a person chose or where they chose to conceal said weapon history alone tells us this by the card games and saloons alone or any place of business it was clear that the framers intended that every man and boy above as I recall its foggy on that age 16 could be called to duty for their country. It also was short sweet to the point as they all are its intent using powerful strong words and phrases but right to the point. It was Stated that it was the Right of the People not the military to bear arms. That it was the duty and demand of the people that in the need of war to protect the nation or state that the citizens give their arms to the soldiers the military that be at the times. So its real safe to say that the weapons are to be in the control of the people and that the people hold the right to rebel against a tyrant or out of control government not acting in the best interest of the nation and its people. It started out and ended up
    (http://www.conservapedia.com/Second_Amendment
    A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms. 2) Ended up like this: (A well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed. 18) Sjort and sweet (Origin:
    1525–35; < Latin infringere to break, weaken, equivalent to in- in-2 + -fringere, combining form of frangere to break) So in truth its none of the state or governments business what guns how many or where or how much ammo. It is all violations of our civil rights and the control of all weapons are to be in the hands of the people. Police forces are nothing more than urban warfare soliders making laws and wars on otherwise innocent citizens. The framers did not intend that the people be 3rd degreed or spied on as they go about their lives thus privacy amendments were enacted to the whole concept was the people held the power for the security knowing tyrants could and would sell us out given the circumstances or need or want for quick money or power, the safety nets to keep government small and out of peoples day to day lives but offer the protections and services needed to provide a strong country able to supply the demands and needs of its people but as fairly and equal as could be.

  19. We know from victims statements in mass shootings that had citizens been armed the number of dead in each of these horrible cases of utter nonsense by cold blooded murdering innocent people often that they do not know. Guns do not kill people do that said people been killing people as long as there has been people. If they can’t get guns they kil with something else. If they can’t get guns it creates a underground a black market of cloak and dagger BS that funnels illegal money into everything from drugs to whore to fun sales across boarders to nurder robbery rape the list goes on. so a war on what is one evil having a gun in the wrong hands vs a whole industry of illegal costly hard to detect and stop illegal trade in selling black market firearms. The cost to tax payers is crazy money and only causes the problem to grow. Criminals are not going to rob a armed man if its safer and easier to rob a unarmed submissive man. Evil will rule if we turn our cheeks its that simple and even the best most honest cop is not going to be their to save you and your ONE LIFE TO LIVE when a criminal decides to rob you of your hard earned paycheck which in todays world it might be you get gut shot and killed over your sun glasses or jacket or pair of sneakers. We never know when fate has a killer in store for us that can be prevented. Cops are not physics or supermen God Bless all the honest ones. We expect to much as people sometimes to all the cop can do it call the ambulance or meat wagon which ever is the case make a report and go where the evidence takes him lawfully. If they solve it great if not it can be years of nightmares for many who lost their loved one. We have to be real and so does the law The language is short simple to the point I don’t think it could have been made more clear for the Maryland Judge if a man wanted to hide his gun in a bush fine. If the gun was not legally owned or he was a felon still the law says it can not be infringed meaning it can not be broken its every citizens right which they tried to make a loop hole to take guns from radical religious people and failed changing the language taking that section out again showing clear intent it meant that all people be able to arm themselves any place any time and it was no ones business but their own. So there is no question as to what their intent was. What comes to mind is having crime paid for and done with held against you twice and punished twice for the same crime. Judges, lawyers law makers all twist meaning and issues to fit their needs and demands of those filling their pockets both in cash an benefits an votes. The only way for the people to regain power is to peacefully for groups inter exchange and get on one page and vote these clowns out and demand that law makers change these laws to reflect the true rights and power of the people. They represent US not we serve them as dictated to slaves.

  20. We can see our public officers violating their oaths of public office which is why one we need groups such as ‘Oath Keepers’ and to gather ourselves on key issues such as these. It makes no sense that the gov disarms law abiding citizens or violates them in someway to unjustly make them criminals to have some mass murdering freak go postal on innocent citizens then use this tactic to even further the violations of rights on innocent citizens abilities to quickly arm and defend themselves by whatever deadly threat that confronts them. Using the falsehood in many cases how the gun was bought legal and legal to own in spite of the fact the numbers are low but made higher by the monkey see monkey do effects by putting this stuff all over the media for months after it happens sometimes years. Just because someone goes mental even if they couldn’t buy a legal gun they can still mass murder by other means or obtain the guns by other means these laws prevent nothing but rather create a whole big industry of crime networks. From pay offs at the top to the criminals on the bottom. I might not be fully right on what I express in this thread but I am close. Here we are a nation with many wars brewing terrorist that want to kill innocent people coming from other nations and domestic terrorist right here at home. China and Russia Both far out number our military and allies combined not even counting their allies. The math comes to each of our soldiers would have to kill 1500 to 2000 men of theirs to win a man to man combat war. We should be arming and training not taking away rights to bear arms. Its all a big sham phony drug war yet after some 40 years there are more addicted and a slew of new drugs can’t get baby food on a airplane but the can get a ton of cocaine on a airplane and across our borders. They want you the people pitted against each other and fighting to deter focus from them as they strip and rob you unjustly using each generation to feed the next instead of each generation pulling its own weight it borrows from several generations ahead IE a huge debt for the nation. we have not been led by leaders we have been led by tyrants making quick bucks off our backs jiggling the books and the republican being the worst of the 2 but both guilty as sin the agenda goes on no matter who holds office. Knowing the people will be deterred by the blame game dazed an confused while the dirty deeds go on and on selling out America its citizens and their rights and powers.

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