Federal Judge Sides with Gun Advocates: Halts Parts of Maryland’s Strict Carry Ban That Had National Implications

Gun Rights

Several parts of a Maryland gun control law set to take effect Sunday were shelved Friday after a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the law’s prohibition on carrying guns at bars, public gatherings and in private buildings.

U.S. District Court Judge George L. Russell III repeatedly invoked the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen in granting a preliminary injunction that bars those pieces of the law from taking effect while the lawsuit against it moves through the courts, according to The Washington Post.

Russell, nominated by former President Barack Obama, said restrictions on carrying guns at schools. hospitals, transit facilities government buildings and other locations were likely to be constitutionally valid, other parts of the law failed that test.

In the opinion, Russell wrote that “bars and restaurants are not analogous to any established sensitive place.”

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“While it is true that such businesses can attract crowds and there are risks associated with alcohol consumption, the Court is unconvinced that intoxicated people qualify as a vulnerable population, like children or hospitalized individuals,” he wrote.

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“Additionally, while some crowded spaces are considered sensitive places, Bruen rejected the argument that Manhattan was sensitive ‘simply because it is crowded and protected generally by the New York City Police Department,’” he continued.

Noting the theme laid down by the Supreme Court in its 2022 ruling, Russell added, “Additionally, the Court concludes that SB 1’s restriction on locations selling alcohol is not consistent with historical regulations.”

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Russell wrote that “The Second Amendment ‘presumptively guarantees’ citizens the right to carry arms ‘in public for self-defense” and that in his opinion, under the proposed law the citizens suing the government “have suffered an injury in fact.”

“State Defendants mischaracterize Plaintiffs’ injury — it is not merely the inability to carry in privately-owned buildings,” he wrote.

“Rather, their injury is the threat of prosecution for carrying firearms in places that, under prevailing law, they have previously had the presumptive right to do so absent express prohibition by the property owner,” Russell wrote.

In banning the part of the law that would ban guns near demonstrations, Russell noted, “Just before the ratification of the Second Amendment, ‘six out of the thirteen original colonies required their citizens to go armed when attending . . . public assemblies.’”

Mark Pennak, president of the gun rights group Maryland Shall Issue said the law’s section banning guns at bars or restaurants impacted his safety when he ate out, the Post wrote.

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“No one is advocating drinking and being armed. But people who do carry like to do so while we eat, and they serve alcohol at most restaurants. It’s not like there’s a sign ‘no bad guys allowed’ and the bad guys say, ‘OK, we’ll stay away.’ There’s still shootings at restaurants.”

In assessing the decision, the National Rifle Association wrote that “The biggest win was stopping the ‘private building consent rule,’” which declares all private property that is open to the public to be a prohibited place — unless the property owner expressly allows individuals to enter the premises with a firearm.

“These private building consent restrictions were cooked up by anti-Second Amendment advocates to effectively nullify the Bruen decision. They are the heart of the states’ response to Bruen. And courts are having nothing to do with them. Today’s ruling was the fourth on enjoining these private consent rules from taking effect,” the NRA explained on its NRA-ILA website.

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