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Maryland flag

I’ve carried a sidearm since 1983. I did it first as a US Marine embassy guard and then as a federal police officer. I’ve been an executive protection specialist and traveled armed overseas, on planes and in the homes of national figures. I’ve been trained to teach others. I’ve taught students at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. I have an active national security clearance. I am an ordained member of clergy. I live in Maryland where none of this matters. Here, a person has to prove “good and substantial reason” before being granted a permit to carry a firearm for their own protection . . .

The reasoning for this, according to Daniel Vice, senior attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, is that “Concealed carry laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people are exactly what the public demands to keep communities as safe as possible.” While that sounds good as a sound bite, the reality is dangerous criminals do not obey gun laws. The fact is that people who will murder others don’t stop trying to get a gun until they do. This type of thing has never helped save a life.

Maryland’s laws require permit applicants to provide documentation that they need to carry a gun for work use or they face a specific threat.

I had one for six months in Maryland when I was working for a small private detective company that has since gone under. I was really good at my job and found everyone I was looking for. It never turned out well for the client.

(Side note: if a wayward father is missing in your life, you will find out that you are not missing anything if I find him.)

The recent lawsuit filed and won against the state in 2010 by Raymond Woollard, who got a Maryland gun permit in 2003 after an armed altercation inside his home, was reversed. Maryland State Police and the state’s Handgun Permit Review Board denied him a renewal in 2009 because he could not provide documents to “verify threats beyond his residence.”

After twenty years of advocating for the right to keep and bear arms around the country, and my recent resurgence into the public eye, my wife is concerned with my safety. Her intuition has saved me before. In the past few weeks I have been on C-SPAN, local news networks, NPR and several online magazines as an unlikely advocate against gun control. I am applying for a permit to carry. I don’t expect it to go well, but the fight is on.

In 1976, there was a class action suit filed by a group of African Americans that proved that the permit system was biased. Not much has changed. When I was a Maryland State Police (MSP) certified firearm instructor, I used to get calls from people to get re-qualified to keep their permits that didn’t go through all the hoops people like me do. They were oblivious to it, but I wasn’t.

According to MSP, the handgun review board received 5,216 permit requests last year. It rejected 251. Of those thrown out, 179 were denied because applicants did not give a “good and substantial” reason.

I will be chronicling this process so that others can follow me. I have a plan to create a nonprofit organization that teaches firearm safety and concealed carry from home security to marksmanship and from proficiency to acquiring their concealed carry permits.

“The great object is, that every man be armed. […] Every one who is able may have a gun.” — Patrick Henry, speech of June 14 1788

This is just the beginning. I’ll keep you updated. Stay tuned…


The Reverend Kenn Blanchard is a former US Marine, federal police officer, intelligence officer and trainer. Twitter: kennblanchard Website: Email: [email protected]


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  1. actually hes wrong. Maryland laws dont require anything of the drug addicts and gang members in Baltimore City. They are already walking around with weapons.

      • actually, technically open carry is legal in Maryland restricted to long guns. the AG made that concession in Woollard. Now, no one has the balls to try it. One of these days when i no longer need my job or my guns I may be willing to try it (but i have a feeling SCOTUS will rule prior to that).

  2. he could not provide documents to “verify threats beyond his residence.”

    You mean street criminals didn’t serve him with a proper notarized Notice Of Threat? Tsk, Tsk. Why, that’s positively uncivilized. There ought to be a law.

    • I’m going to require any and all criminals to first give me a written 30 day Notice of Threat before they assault me on the street or at home. That way I’ll have “justifiable need” (in NJ) and it will give the cops enough time to issue a carry permit. Thus the cops can’t refuse to give me the permit and I’ll always be protected. Makes perfect sense.

      • Mayhap I should SPAM every e-dress in Maryland with direly threatening electronic missives.

        Then everyone in the state could prove their flippin’ clear and present danger.

        Nah – I like being free to walk an area larger than an exercise yard.

        Still, it’s a lovely image…

  3. Is being robbed or assaulted on the street prima facie evidence that there is a threat?
    Following, is there no street crime in Maryland?
    Carrying diamonds increases your threat, the possibility that you have money in your wallet makes you a target and generates a threat.
    Without some objective numerical threat assessment, one would think that without a set definable “threat” threshold the entire law would be challegable as capricious and arbitrary.

    • Short answer: NO. The risk of being mugged is the same for everyone. You have to show a specific threat above the usual background risk. Carrying diamonds would probably do the trick.

      I never have understood the logic–it is the same one used on SoCal. It’s like saying you don’t have a right to defend yourself from everyday criminal activity, only from targetted criminal activity. If we are looking at probability of being attacked, what study supports the inference that the risk of the average citizen–even if a little old lady–is so low as to not warrant steps for self protection?

  4. You have probably heard this before, Rev. Blanchard, but your real problem can be summarized by one of your earlier statements: “I live in Maryland ….”

    God bless you for fighting for Maryland citizen’s rights, but when you finally get tired of it, move to Idaho. I lived in the People’s Republic of California for 24 years, and did everything possible to support the 2nd amendment groups there. Finally got tired of it, and “escaped” to Idaho when I retired. Just went in to my local Sheriff’s office today to renew my Idaho Concealed Weapons License (which covers the carry of ANY concealed weapon). Cost was $30, and the only wait will be for the sheriff to run a criminal background check on me to see if I have any disqualifying convictions since my permit was last issued. (I don’t.) Renewal is non-discretionary when I pass the background check. Renewal will be for 5 years.

    Most residents of Idaho are members of the LUTHA (Leave us the hell alone) Party. Works for us, and drives the local newspaper/media types into frothing rants about the “right-wing gun nuts” in the state. That doesn’t stop them from having a “Guns” section in the classified ads of the newspapers. (OMG OMG!!! Gun sales without background checks!!! OMG!!!)

    Funny, with all of the firearms in this state our violent crime rate is nearly zero. And the firearms include legally-owned machine guns – my neighbor is a member of IAWCA – Idaho Automatic Weapons Collectors Association. You can legally buy a genuine “automatic knife” (aka switchblade), and carry it legally if you have a CWL.

    We in Idaho have tried liberty, and it works.

    • Hey, I’m a LUTHAran, too. Or is it a LUTHAcan? LUTHAcrat? LUTHAtarian (or would that be someone who eats lutherans like vegetarians eat vegetables?)

      I don’t like or trust either the Democrats or the Republicans, or any bureaucracy, really. Just leave me the hell alone, and we’ll get along fine.

      There definitely is a theme here — densely populated states in New England with Democratic party traditions and centers of federal government have a VERY different attitude toward Second Amendment rights than most of us in the comparatively rural and spacious West or South are used to. (California being the exception; their metro-dominated state gov’t drank the progressive kool-aid long ago, and the whole state is paying a heavy price for it now.)

      It’s a national analog to the urban/rural divide many states suffer.

    • your state is also popular with at least one LEO in kalifornia…when i used to live there and my house was almost robbed 5+ years ago, the officer who came to my house sheepishly told me if i shoot them outside the house “you better drag them inside or their family will end up owning your house…”, in the next breath said in 3 years when he retired he would be moving to your fine state “where things make more sense…” cheers.

      • Yeah, northern Idaho is sometimes called “blue heaven” because of all the LA cops who have retired and moved there. Guess they have a thorough appreciation of the benefits of living in SoCal.

    • brianon,

      As a former resident of the socialist people’s republic of Maryland I wouldn’t praise their flag too greatly. Sure it may look visually interesting to some people, but the flag is a symbol of the state and symbols are chosen to have meaning.

      I think it telling that Maryland’s flag is the only one in the USA that copies the heraldic crest from the colony’s founding family. That a state in the post-Revolutionary period would have chosen to cling to the feudal privilege handed out by the King and keep that symbol alive to this day speaks volumes about the deepness and the conviction of the need for the citizenry to bow down and serve their betters, and of course, that the betters are the ones in charge of the government.

      I much prefer the flag of my current state of residence, the one immediately to the south of Maryland, which states “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” something the little slice of purgatory between Maryland and Virginia would do well to remember.

  5. Gun-toting reverend? If my pops were still alive, you and him would have gotten along great.

    On a side note:

    “I had one for six months in Maryland when I was working for a small private detective company that has since gone under. I was really good at my job and found everyone I was looking for. It never turned out well for the client.

    (Side note: if a wayward father is missing in your life, you will find out that you are not missing anything if I find him.)”

    I found that to be incredibly sad… So I guess being a private detective ain’t as glamorous as the movies make it, eh?

  6. Good luck in your fight. BTW, have the SAF or NRA done anything to help you or have they at least listened to your story. In the meantime, if I felt a threat I would be armed. Law or not.The saying judged by 12 rather than carried by 6 may apply.

  7. Vote with your feet, Kenn and send the Governor of Maryland along with your state representatives a letter telling them why you are leaving.

  8. Thank you for your calling, your service, your work, your words, and your continued work in bringing logic to an illogical situation.

  9. Thank you for your calling, your service, your work, your words, and your continued work in bringing logic to an illogical situation.

    May we as a group be as strong as our strongest individuals.

  10. “I am an ordained member of clergy.”
    So what?
    No offense but that means jack to me, and hurts your argument

  11. It’s also notable that the number of applicants denied is not an accurate representation of who wants and would qualify for a permit in other states. People know that they will not pass the rediculous good and substantial reason clause so they don’t bother applying. It’s the same for me here in NJ.

  12. As a gun owner in a blue state, I applaud your efforts. The sad thing is that the state could care less about your personal safety, and will do everything within its power to hold itself harmless were you to be injured or killed after the denial of your CCW.

  13. “Good and substantial”. To exercise a right? Should Good and substantial be used on any other rights? Watch the riots then.

    • Like the right to vote…?

      Some day, we will look back on those who attempt to disarm a segment of society in the same way in which we look back at those (including Maryland) who opposed blacks voting, promulgated segregation, denied women the vote, denied Native Americans citizenship, outlawed…

    • To answer your question at 15:16, here is a quote from the written ruling a few months ago:
      “A citizen may not be required to offer a ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.” — Benson Everett Legg, U.S. District Court Judge from the Woollard case in Maryland

      Unfortunately, that was over-ruled by a higher court a couple days ago.

  14. Kenn,

    I appreciate and applaud your enthusiasm, but I must ask, are you working with Maryland Shall Issue? MSI is the largest and most active pro 2A group in the state. If you have not contacted MSI I would strongly encourage you to get a hold of them, they can at least help get the word out to the locals.

  15. “According to MSP, the handgun review board received 5,216 permit requests last year. It rejected 251.”

    Ask them how many they have approved. They are still sitting on almost all of those that were not rejected. That is close to 5,000 sitting in a drawer somewhere. Rejecting or turning them down would make them look bad.

  16. Kenn, I thank you for working so hard in support of gun owners’ rights, especially in Maryland. You sure picked an uphill battle, I wish you well.

  17. If you feel the need to carry in that commie area, have a hot (non traceable) revolver. If used…… “shoot, shovel, and shut up”.

  18. How is the desire to defend yourself or your family against violent crime — which by its very nature is frequently unpredictable — not a “good” or “substantial” reason to grant a CCW permit? It is certainly not a bad reason (a bad reason would be something like wanting to threaten people or behave unsafely), nor is it insubstantial (we’re talking about potentially defending your life or those of others).

    I haven’t read the statue, but unless there’s some language that says an applicant needs to meet a standard of demonstrating unusually good or exceptionally substantial cause, how can they deny “ordinary” good and substantial reasons?

    BTW, isn’t this what the Peruta ruling was about?

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