The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the need for the Second Amendment is “most acute” in the home, where “self, family and property” must be protected.
But now Maryland gun regulators are insisting that anyone who wants to defend his home with a firearm must have a month of special training.
A group called Maryland Shall Issue Inc. has filed a lawsuit contending the training requirement violates the Second Amendment.
Arguing a “right delayed is a right denied,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, or CCRKBA, explained the licensing process is “expensive and lengthy.”
His groups are part of a coalition that has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case. The coalition also includes the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.
“No citizen should have to jump through so many hoops simply to have a gun in their own home,” Gottlieb said. “There were no such requirements or regulations in Maryland at the time the Constitution was ratified, and the current regulatory scheme seems more intended to discourage responsible firearms ownership than guarantee that gun owners safely handle their firearms.”
Gottlieb said the training requirement in Maryland “imposes a burden on a citizen’s ability to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights.”
“But evidently in Maryland, as in some other states, the government has arbitrarily decided to treat the Second Amendment right as a regulated privilege, and that simply cannot be allowed to stand.”
The brief points out a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals precedent establishes a two-part test. The first is whether the restriction burdens the founding-era scope of the right to keep and bear arms.
Part two is the appropriate level of heightened scrutiny.
The Maryland training requirement doesn’t pass the first test, the brief contends.
“No colonial or Founding-Era law ever required training to possess a firearm,” the gun rights advocates explain. “Indeed, many laws required firearm ownership without requiring training. Some laws required persons expressly exempted from training to own firearms.”
If the goal is to reduce accidents, that’s already in the works, they point out.
But Maryland is requiring “law-abiding citizens” to “spend over a month complying with the various requirements of the state’s licensing scheme” before they have permission for a handgun in their home.
Early in U.S. history, the filing explains, “at least eight colonies or states required arms ownership unconnected to militia service. ”
“None of those laws required training. Some statutes expressly exempted these owners from training.”
In fact, one early law, from the 1650s, required “that every man able to beare armes have in his house a fixed gun, two pound of powder and eight pound of shott.”
The brief compares the state’s requirement for multiple training classes and experiences to what it requires of those who want to drive.
“Maryland requires no standardized training before one can obtain a driver’s license. One can learn to drive in a high school … class, or from a parent or other adult driver, or at a commercial driving school, or be self-taught.”
By the way, the brief points out, driving vehicles results in 80 times more accidental deaths per year than do firearms.
In addition, experience has shown that waiting a month to obtain a firearm can put a person’s life at risk.
“In September 1990, a mail carrier named Catherine Latta of Charlotte, North Carolina, went to police to obtain permission to buy a handgun. Her ex-boyfriend had previously robbed her, assaulted her several times, and raped her. The clerk at the sheriff’s office informed her that the gun permit would take two to four weeks. ‘I told her I’d be dead by then,’ Ms. Latta later recalled. That afternoon, she illegally bought a pistol on the street. Five hours later, her ex-boyfriend attacked her outside her house, and she shot him dead.”
No charges were filed against her.