On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge blocked a Maryland gun control law’s prohibition on carrying firearms in taverns, public gatherings, and private structures, which was scheduled to go into effect on Sunday.
According to The Washington Post, U.S. District Court Judge George L. Russell III repeatedly cited the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen in granting a preliminary injunction that prevents those portions of the law from taking effect while the lawsuit against it proceeds.
Former President Barack Obama nominated Russell, who stated restrictions on carrying firearms in schools. While hospitals, transit facilities, and government buildings were likely to pass the constitutionality test, other portions of the law failed.
In the opinion, Russell wrote that “bars and restaurants are not analogous to any established sensitive place.”
“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.
“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.”
Gottlieb: "Maryland is one of a handful of states that have adopted new statutes designed specifically to get around the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the 2022 Bruen case." @2AFDN @aarmark https://t.co/8bBRYLgGZP
— Lee Williams (@HT_GunWriter) September 29, 2023
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 organization Maryland Shall Issue, told the Post that the section of the law prohibiting firearms in taverns and restaurants affected his safety when dining out.
“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.”
— Firearms Policy Coalition (@gunpolicy) September 29, 2023
In evaluating the decision, the National Rifle Association stated, “The biggest win was stopping the ‘private building consent rule,'” which declares all private property that is open to the public to be a firearm-free zone unless the property owner expressly permits firearms on the premises.
“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.