The Maryland attorney general's office filed a notice Monday in federal court outlining plans to appeal a recent ruling that significantly widens access to gun-carry permits throughout the state.

The ruling, which strikes down a portion of Maryland's gun laws as unconstitutional, has been stayed until the judge in the case can consider whether to require its enforcement while the appeal is under way.

U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg has asked for briefs on the matter from both sides: the state, which represents those who oversee Maryland's handgun permitting and attorneys for the Second Amendment Foundation, a gun-rights advocacy group, and Raymond Woollard, a Baltimore County man who sued after he was denied a permit renewal.

In an order filed Friday, Legg laid out a schedule for the legal filings that stretches into May, meaning it could be summer before a decision is reached and any meaningful changes to state law implemented.

He also clarified his original ruling, issued March 5, to make it clear that the order was intended to expressly prohibit the enforcement of a state requirement that handgun-carry applicants have "good and substantial" reasons for their application.

"A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and substantial reason' why he should be permitted to exercise his rights," Legg wrote in a 23-page opinion accompanying the March ruling. "The right's existence is all the reason he needs."

Gun proponents praised the decision, claiming it would bring Maryland policies in line with most other states and could help deter crime. Gun opponents decried it however, predicting a surge in criminal activity and street shootouts.

The Maryland State Police, which grants gun carry permits, has said it will not change the process until the courts reach a conclusion.

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

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