The Washington Post has weighed in on the Woollard v. Sheridan ruling and, surprise, surprise, surprise, they’re against it. That’s the recent Maryland Supreme Court ruling that the state can’t require citizens to show a “good and substantial reason” in order to get a carry permit. Most of the piece is simply background on Maryland’s permit law and a reprise of the case. They state that Judge Legg’s ruling is well-reasoned, although the WaPo Editorial Board agrees with the state’s decision to appeal, but it isn’t until we get to the very last paragraph that they reach the meat of their argument:
But the state has a duty to protect public safety, and careful oversight of who can walk around with lethal weapons may be a legitimate component of that.
What the WPEB is completely ignoring is that this ruling changes nothing about the permitting process except to remove the good and substantial reason component. So all of the “oversight” currently in place (background check, gainfully employed, medical and psychological histories, a guess as to whether the applicant has “a propensity for violence or instability”) remains in place. Indeed since the completely subjective “propensity for violence or instability” test remains, boards can continue to weed out blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, people who didn’t contribute to the right politicians -ahem- undesirable applicants.
As for the state’s duty to protect public safety, in case after case after case the courts have ruled that the police have no duty to protect individuals, merely the public at large. Even in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales, where the police violated a Colorado law which required them to enforce restraining orders, the Supreme Court ruled that they were not liable when they failed to do so. Thus it is up to individuals to provide for their own defense, not the state.
The WPEB concludes:
Judge Legg too quickly dismisses as a “rationing” scheme the state’s compelling interest in maintaining order in the public arena. Second Amendment rights should be respected, but public safety need not be thrown out in the process.
I’m not exactly sure how the WaPo’s deep thinkers believe we can respect a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil, and Constitutional right while still requiring good and substantial reason to exercise it, but we will let that pass for the moment. Let’s look at the idea that issuing carry permits to law-abiding citizens undermines the state’s ability to maintain order.
The statistical mavens at the Violence Policy Center have started tracking what they call Concealed Carry Killers. Although there are serious questions about their methodology and numbers, let’s use them for the sake of conservatism.
According to the VPC, there have been 391 people killed by permit-holders since May of 2007. According to LegallyArmed.com there are currently about 6.9 million permit holders in the U.S. and according to Google there are about 310 million people in the country.
That means 2.21% of the population has carry permits. Now, according to the DisasterCenter.com between 2007 and 2010 there were 63,518 homicides in the U.S. (I’m figuring that counting the first 4 months of 2007 is offset by not counting 2011; hey, it’s a S.W.A.G.). So, doing a little math, we find that the 2.21% of the population which has permits to carry committed 0.62% of the homicides.
So when you combine that with the fact that guns are used to save lives more than twice as often as they are in homicides (see my analysis here) it seems that far from throwing it out, public safety would be well served by allowing more people to carry.
 L. Neil Smith, Letter to a Liberal Colleague