Showing posts with label handguns. Show all posts
Showing posts with label handguns. Show all posts

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Maryland's Restrictions On Handgun Carry Permits Challanged

The gun rights advocates who successfully challenged the District's gun laws have moved their campaign to Maryland, filing a federal lawsuit claiming that the state's weapons restrictions violate the Second Amendment.

The seven-page suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore challenges Maryland's restrictions on handgun carry permits. Under state law, applicants must show, among other things, that they are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, don't have a history of violence and have a "good and substantial reason" to carry a gun.

Plaintiff Raymond Woollard, a Navy veteran who once fought with an intruder in his Baltimore County home, was denied a permit because the state found that he could not show he had been subject to "threats occurring beyond his residence," according to the suit.

"He was only denied for lack of a so-called good and substantial reason," said Cary J. Hansel, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. He said Woollard met all of the other hurdles.

"Imagine a world in which you had to go to the government and show a good and substantial reason to exercise your constitutional rights," Hansel said. "We are not arguing there shouldn't be background checks, fingerprints, mental examinations or training requirements."

The lawsuit comes in the aftermath of recent court victories for gun rights advocates. In June, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment provides Americans a fundamental right to bear arms that cannot be violated by state or local governments. The decision extended the court's landmark 2008 ruling that struck down the District's decades-old ban on handgun possession.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler declined to comment on the case, saying that state officials had not reviewed the arguments.

But Guillory said the attorney general's office reexamined state gun laws in the context of the recent Supreme Court rulings. "We have reviewed Maryland gun laws and concluded none of them are so stringent as to violate the Second Amendment," she said.

The lawsuit, also filed on behalf of the Bellevue, Wash.-based Second Amendment Foundation, names the Maryland State Police superintendent, Col. Terrence B. Sheridan, and three members of the state handgun permit review board as defendants.

Hansel said a permit generally is needed to carry a handgun outside the home in Maryland. There are some exceptions, he said, including taking a gun home after it is bought or traveling to a shooting range.

According to the suit, Woollard, who lives on a Baltimore County farm, was with his family on Christmas Eve 2002 when a man shattered a window and broke into his home. Woollard trained his shotgun on the man, but the two fought and the intruder pulled the gun away. Woollard's son eventually got another gun, ending the fight.

The intruder was convicted of burglary in that case and ultimately was sent to prison after violating probation, according to the lawsuit. The man, who was released from prison in 2005, lives about three miles from Woollard.

Woollard's handgun permit was renewed in 2005, according to the lawsuit. He sought to renew it again last year but was denied. The board found that Woollard had not "submitted any documentation to verify threats occurring beyond his residence, where he can already legally carry a handgun," the suit states.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Celebrations Today Marking New Handgun Law In Virginia

Gun advocates across Virginia plan a series of celebrations today marking a new law that allows people with concealed-handgun permits to bring hidden firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol.

The Richmond-area celebration is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. at O'Charley's restaurant on Mayland Drive off Gaskins Road in western Henrico County, according to the Virginia Citizens Defense League, which expects more than 80 permit holders to attend.

Collectively, several hundred gun owners are expected to assemble at seven celebrations, including eateries in Charlottesville, Norfolk, Woodbridge, Reston, Vinton and Yorktown.

"It's a continued step in the right direction," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the 5,000- member Virginia Citizens Defense League. "We tried to throw off the bonds that have tied down gun owners unconstitutionally for years."

In addition to the concealed weapons, the grass-roots gun group will mark the occasion with sheet cakes proclaiming "Rights Restored: Ban Repealed."

People who legally carry firearms openly already may enter restaurants that serve alcohol and may drink. But until today, a holder of a concealed-handgun permit could not bring a concealed firearm into any restaurant that served alcohol.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, signed the law in April, making Virginia one of 28 states that allow concealed guns in bars.

The new law prohibits concealed-handgun carriers from consuming alcohol in a bar or restaurant. A restaurant owner may refuse service to gun carriers and prohibit them from entering with their weapons, concealed or not.

A concealed-gun carrier who violates the law by consuming alcohol can be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Gun owners also can be charged with trespassing for bringing their weapons into establishments that post signs prohibiting them.

"Guns and alcohol don't mix under any circumstances," said Lori Haas, an advocate for the Virginia Center for Public Safety whose daughter, Emily, was wounded during the Virginia Tech shootings in April 2007.

The restaurant industry is concerned about how the law will be enforced.

"We still do believe that while most gun owners are truly law-abiding and won't pose a problem, like everyone else, they are human beings," said Tom Lisk, a lobbyist who represents the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association.

"We have no way to police it because the firearm is concealed, and we don't know if we're serving somebody who might be carrying concealed. So, it's going to be up to the gun owners to police themselves," Lisk said.

Also effective today, people who don't have concealed-weapons permits may stow their firearms in the glove compartment or a container in their vehicle.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control had not yet sent out a newsletter yesterday informing the 16,000 ABC licensees about the concealed-guns-in-bars law.

Philip Bogenberger, a spokesman for the department, said a violation of the law is not an ABC violation. The responsibility to refrain from consuming alcoholic beverages rests with the permit holder, he said.

Several bar managers contacted said they were not aware of the new law.

Rachel Grove, a marketing director for The Tobacco Company restaurant in Richmond's Shockoe Slip, said the company has written a letter to the governor's office asking for an explanation of the law but has not heard back.

"We don't know what we can and cannot do," she said. "It's definitely a concern."

At Philip's Continental Lounge, a West End watering hole, manager Kyle Measell is not waiting for instructions.

"It's an idiot law," he said. "I believe in gun rights, but you don't need people to bring guns into bars." He added that Philip's is not allowing patrons with guns.

Poe's Pub at the eastern end of Shockoe Bottom is allowing patrons with concealed-weapons permits to bring in guns, owner Mike Britt said, though he doesn't think guns and alcohol are a good mixture.

Britt figures people have been carrying the guns illegally into his bar anyway, so he sees little impact from the law.

"Guns are everywhere," he added.

Restaurants hosting
Here are the restaurants where the Virginia Citizens Defense League is celebrating the new concealed-carry law tonight. The events are open to the public.
> Henrico County -- O'Charley's, 9927 Mayland Drive
> Charlottesville -- Topeka's Steakhouse, 1791 Richmond Road
> Norfolk -- Mona Lisa Pizza, Pasta and Subs, 9583 Shore Drive
> Reston -- Champps Americana, 11694 Plaza America Drive
> Vinton -- Famous Anthony's, 323 E. Virginia Ave.
> Woodbridge -- Uncle Julio's Fine Mexican Food, 14900 Potomac Town Place, Suite 150
> Yorktown -- Country Grill, 1215-a George Washington Highway (U.S. 17)