September 06, 2023
A lawsuit challenging a Maryland county’s unconstitutional gun ban in places of public assembly and a “buffer zone” around those places is drawing national interest. In the case Maryland Shall Issue, Inc. v. Montgomery County, Maryland, a group of gun rights advocates, businesses and private citizens sued to overturn the Montgomery County, Maryland, law that prohibits the possession of a firearm within 100 yards of publicly or privately owned parks, places of worship, recreation facilities and more, including the surrounding grounds and parking lots of these locations. A federal district court denied the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case, and it is currently before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Recently, 19 state attorneys general, led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, filed an amicus brief in the case asking the circuit court to reverse the earlier decision denying the preliminary injunction and to ensure that the new two-pronged Bruen standard is used in considering the case.
“The Supreme Court was clear: Rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment are not second-class to other rights,” AG Knudsen said. “Montanans should not deal with a patchwork of state and local regulations when traveling with firearms, especially when those restrictions are unconstitutional. In their Bruen decision, the Supreme Court clarified the requirements that need to be met for gun restrictions to be lawful. Montgomery County’s law does not satisfy those requirements and is unconstitutional. The appeals court should reverse the district court’s decision and grant a preliminary injunction.”
Per the Bruen standard, courts must ask whether the “Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct?” If the answer is “yes,” they must then determine whether there exists a “historical precedent from before, during and even after the founding [that] evidences a comparable tradition of regulation.”
It’s easy to see that the Second Amendment’s plain text covers the individual’s conduct in this case, as in Bruen the Supreme Court also found the Second Amendment protects the right to bear arms outside the home for self-defense. And according to the AGs’ brief, the law doesn’t meet the second component either.
“Apart from a handful of state laws, local ordinances and territorial statutes enacted during the late nineteenth century—often more than a century removed from the founding—the historical record doesn’t show an ‘enduring American tradition’ of restricting the right to carry in places of worship, public parks, recreational and multipurpose exhibition facilities, public libraries or in buffer zones surrounding those locations,” the brief states.
Along with Montana AG Knudsen, attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming signed on to the brief.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for nearly 25 years.
If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.