Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Case Regarding Second Amendment Protection

Current Maryland Law Prohibits Carrying Gun Without a Permit

Charles Williams of Prince George’s County was arrested in 2008 for carrying a handgun in his backpack without a permit. Upon conviction, he received a sentence of three years plus probation. Williams had been digging around in the backpack when an officer spotted the weapon.

In a similar case, Sean Masciandaro of Woodbridge, Va. was convicted of bringing a loaded gun into a national park. While driving home, Masciandaro had decided to pull over at the park to take a quick nap; when an officer stopped to investigate, he discovered Masciandaro’s handgun in the trunk.

Both of these individuals petitioned the Supreme Court to answer the question: How far do Second Amendment rights extend beyond the home?

Williams’ and Masciandaro’s attorneys argued that recent Supreme Court rulings do extend Second Amendment rights to protect both Williams and Masciandaro. They point to the 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, where the court ruled a Washington, D.C. law that restricted firearm ownership to law enforcement agents was unconstitutional. The majority opinion reasoned that preventing gun ownership in the home, which was a result of the D.C. law, was a violation of Second Amendment rights. The attorneys also cite the 2010 McDonald v. Chicago case in which the court declared that the gun control laws Congress passes cannot be superseded by more restrictive state or local laws.

Recently, the Supreme Court decided not to hear the Williams case. However, briefs have been submitted in Masciandaro by both parties (at the Supreme Court’s request) and there is still a chance the Supreme Court will clarify gun control laws in that case.

Supreme Court Ruling Could Affect Current Maryland Laws

Because the U.S. Supreme Court is not hearing the Williams case, and because the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld state law, currently Maryland’s restrictions on gun ownership stand. The State of Maryland, for example, currently stipulates some of the following regarding gun ownership:

  • Shotguns and rifles can be bought and possessed without a permit, but assault rifles and handguns are regulated and require a permit.
  • Marylanders can have rifles or shotguns in their car as long as it is not loaded. With only a few exceptions, handguns may not be carried in vehicles on public roads, in parking lots or on highways.
  • An individual can only buy a regulated firearm every 30 days, unless it was stolen less than 30 days from when it was first obtained it and the owner considers it "essential" to have.

The U.S. Supreme Court has impacted gun laws in the past and could have a major impact on Maryland and other states’ power to pass gun-control laws if it rules specifically (as Williams and Masciandaro hope) that gun owners have some of the same rights under the Second Amendment whether they are at home or out in public.

Because Maryland gun laws are some of the strictest in the nation, if you have been charged with a gun offense contact an experienced attorney to protect your constitutional rights in court.

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