Maryland Police: Disabled
Man Has 'No Good Reason' for Handgun
Maryland has denied a physically disabled citizen a permit to carry
a concealed handgun because he does not have a "good and substantial
reason" to be armed.
Jeff Johnson, CNSNews.com
Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2003
Dan Sullivan worked as an emergency trauma nurse before
muscular dystrophy severely limited the use of his legs. He can
now walk only with the assistance of two canes.
What Sullivan calls his "visually obvious physical disability"
makes him an attractive target for criminals, he believes. It also
makes it almost impossible for him to flee or physically defend
himself from an assault. Despite those facts, Maryland State Police
denied Sullivan a permit for a concealed handgun.
"Maybe I need to go get a prescription at night, and I'm leery
about going out at night because I can't run away from the criminals,"
Sullivan explained. "The elected officials seem to have very
little concern for the safety of the disabled, you know. We're not
a real concern to them."
Police in Maryland require that applicants who seek the permit
for personal protection provide "documented evidence of recent
threats and/or assaults, supported by police reports and/or notarized
Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America,
called the requirement "ridiculous."
"People may die getting all of this documentation," Pratt
said. "That's just crazy."
Sullivan said the prerequisite led him to ask state officials what
he believed was an obvious question.
"Exactly what type and how many threats and assaults have
to be endured before one would qualify?" he asked.
The state police's licensing division told Sullivan he could appeal
its determination to the Handgun Permit Review Board, which he has
done. Two Maryland politicians were somewhat more responsive to
Democrat Pols Know What's Best for You
"It is disturbing to think there are citizens who feel that
they have to remain confined in their homes because it is not safe
to be on the street," wrote Maryland Senate President Mike
Miller (D). "However, I am not sure that carrying a weapon
is the solution to that problem."
Miller offered no alternative solution, other than to refer Sullivan's
letter to someone else. Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy
Townsend (D), who lost her bid for governor in November 2002,
agreed with Miller on both counts.
"It is disturbing that some of our disabled citizens fear
they will be attacked because of their disability if they leave
their homes," Townsend wrote. "But I also agree with Senator
Miller that allowing these same citizens to carry concealed weapons
simply because they are disabled is not the answer to the problem."
Pratt was appalled at both letters.
"How callous for people who have police protection themselves
throughout most of the day to say to an average citizen, 'You don't
need to have a gun to defend yourself,'" he said.
"These would be atrocious letters written to anybody, but
it's made worse by the fact that here's a guy who can barely walk,"
Pratt continued. "To tell him that he can't protect himself
basically says that he will have to stay at home."
But Pratt added that, based on the vehement anti-Second Amendment
records of Townsend and Miller, he was not surprised by the content
of the letters.
"It's elitist. It's callous. And obviously," Pratt concluded,
"it's written by people who don't care whether this man lives
CNSNews.com asked Maryland Assistant Attorney General Mark Bowen,
who works with the state police, to explain the criteria to meet
the requirement that a citizen have a "good and substantial
reason" to obtain a concealed-handgun permit.
"To the best of my knowledge, there aren't any," Bowen
said. "It turns out to be whatever's accepted by the Handgun
Review Board as acceptable. And again, there is no specific list
of what that constitutes."
Sullivan said he feels caught between the criminals and the police,
an uncomfortable place to be in a state with one of the highest
rates of violent crime in the country.
"The police aren't responsible for our safety," Sullivan
said, referring to Maryland and U.S. Supreme Court decisions that
police cannot be sued for failing to protect a citizen from criminals.
"Yet the state is denying us our own ability to protect and
defend ourselves. I think that's a significant problem."
The Maryland Handgun Permit Review Board will review Sullivan's
application appeal Feb. 5.