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Md. court ruling on guns protects citizens' right to self defense

Three cheers for U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg's ruling that Maryland's law denying ordinary citizens the right to carry arms in public is unconstitutional ("Md. gun-carry law overturned," March 6).

The right to self-defense is the preeminent civil right. If a person is barred by the state from protecting his person when outside his home, all his other rights are potentially meaningless: They are of no benefit to a person who is raped or murdered because she or he was denied the means of self-defense.

Judge Legg's ruling does not prevent Maryland from maintaining reasonable restrictions on the issuance of gun-carry permits. The state can, and should, continue to deny permits to convicted felons and mentally unstable individuals. The state also reasonably can require gun-carry applicants to take gun safety training and to demonstrate close-range proficiency with a handgun.

Gun control advocates argue that allowing ordinary citizens to carry guns would have adverse implications for public safety. The opposite is true: When a criminal is aware that a potential victim may be armed, he may decide that committing the crime is not worth the risk.

Maryland's gun law does not keep guns out of the hands of criminals; rather, it keeps guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. Thus, Maryland's gun law effectively protects criminals at the expense of public safety.

Critics argue that Judge Legg's ruling, if allowed to stand, would result in "a return to the Wild West." But that's a good thing because, in the Wild West, the good guys were able to carry guns, too.

David Holstein, Parkville

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