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Judge Legg’s ruling did not make clear whether the state would have to reconsider or retroactively award past rejected permits if the “good and substantial reason” requirement is removed.

State Assistant Attorney General Matthew Fader said his office will appeal as well and seek a stay to prevent the ruling from taking effect.

While gun rights groups lauded Judge Legg’s opinion, gun control advocacy groups were harshly critical of the decision.

Daniel Vice, a senior attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said the ruling violated several legal precedents confining the Second Amendment to homes, including the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2011 ruling in United States v. Masciandaro that found that citizens have no right to possess a loaded handgun in a national park.

“This is an outlier ruling by a renegade judge,” Mr. Vice said. “It ignores binding precedent and more than a dozen rulings in other states.”

Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, applauded the decision. “Judge Legg correctly ruled the burden should be on the government to prove that an American is unfit to exercise this constitutional right,” he said. “Law-abiding Americans should not have to prove to governments that they have a need to own and use a gun to defend themselves and their family members.”