BY JIM NOLAN
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli — aiming to be elected governor of Virginia in 2013 — has filed a brief in a Maryland gun case that is bound to hit the target with firearms enthusiasts in the commonwealth.
Cuccinelli’s office on Monday filed a “friend of the court” or amicus brief, on behalf of Virginia and 13 other states in support of a federal district court ruling that struck down a Maryland law that grants handgun carry permits only to people who can prove a “good and substantial reason” that they face a specific or imminent threat to their personal safety beyond that of ordinary citizens..
Virginia does not require its citizens to have a permit for the open carry of firearms, but requires permits for individuals to carry concealed handguns, for the most part only restricting felons, persons with certain misdemeanor convictions and persons with a criminal a history of mental illness from obtaining permits.
The state of Maryland has appealed the decision in Woollard v. Gallagher, which is being heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Cuccinelli’s brief argues that Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” requirement to obtain a handgun carry permit for self-defense outside of the home “impinges on the constitutional rights of its citizens.
“…The self-defense interest animating the Second Amendment’s individual right to keep and bear arms applies broadly beyond the confines of an individual’s home.”
The brief also argues that Maryland cannot justify the broad restriction because it has “less-restrictive alternatives” available to address safety concerns, and also argues that research shows “right-to-carry laws do not result in criminal violence.”
Maryland is among a minority of states that have similar restrictions on the carrying of firearms. Virginia gun rights groups expressed support for Cuccinelli’s intervention in the case.
“The Attorney General is espousing what the vast majority of states (41) have in place – a legal way for all law-abiding citizens to bear arms with minimal or no government interference,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League.
“My office is committed to the never-ending necessity of protecting Second Amendment rights,” said Cuccinelli, who is challenging Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination for governor next year.
Bolling holds similar views on gun rights to those of Cuccinelli and has supported pro-gun legislation in the past.
Here is the URL to the AG’s brief: http://www.ag.virginia.gov/Media%20and%20News%20Releases/News_Releases/Cuccinelli/Amicus_Brief_Woollard_Ct_Filed.pdf