A coalition of 21 state attorneys general have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the U.S. Supreme Court asking justices to void a Maryland law that severely restricts citizens’ ability to carry a concealed firearm.
The group is led by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a Republican. The brief was filed December 18.
The case cited as Malpasso v. Pallozzi.
Morrisey and the others are seeking to expand the scope of protection that was given to gun-ownership rights after the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in District of Columbia v. Heller (2010), that the right to possess a firearm is an individual right, and in McDonald v. Chicago (2012), that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms” applies to the states.
In addition to West Virginia, other states that have signed onto the brief include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.
The question that former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has been engaged in a number of Second Amendment legal fights, put before the court in the petition for certiorari filed Sept. 26, is, “Whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit typical, law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense in any manner.”
Forty-one states have passed laws known as “shall carry,” giving citizens the right to carry a firearm concealed or in the open outside of their homes.
But the Maryland law “reduces that fundamental right to a privilege—one the state grants only to the rare citizen who can demonstrate to a bureaucrat’s satisfaction that he or she is in dire-enough straits to warrant carrying a handgun,” Morrisey said in a statement.
The right to self-defense, “no less than the threats that might precipitate a need to act in self-defense, necessarily extends beyond the four walls of one’s home,” Clement’s petition states.
“That conclusion is compelled by the text and structure of the Second Amendment, by the history of the right it protects, and by any fair reading of Heller,” the petition continues.
“Consistent with that understanding, the vast majority of states protect the right of their citizens to carry handguns outside the home for self-defense,” it adds.
“But a small minority persist in denying that right to typical, law-abiding citizens, instead reserving it to only a small subset of individuals who can demonstrate that they have a particularized need to exercise the right that the Second Amendment guarantees to all ‘the people.’”