August 22, 2023

BELLEVUE, WA – The Second Amendment Foundation and one of its members, Donald S. Willey, a 64-year-old Marine Corps veteran, have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the so-called “red flag” law enacted by the State of Maryland five years ago.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division. Defendants are Maryland Attorney General Anthony G. Brown, Dorchester County, Dorchester County Planning and Zoning Director Susan E. Webb, and Dorchester County Sheriff James W. Phillips. All three are sued in their official capacities, and Webb is also being sued personally.

SAF and Willey are represented by attorneys Edward Andrew Paltzik and Serge Krimnus of the Bochner PLLC law firm in New York City.

According to the federal complaint, for almost two decades Dorchester County authorities have “relentlessly pursued Willey for de minimis nuisance and zoning infractions.” More than two years ago, Webb allegedly stepped up the effort by accusing Willey of operating an illegal business on his property, leaving his yard in poor condition and for an “unpermitted disturbance to a 100-foot tidewater buffer.” These complaints were ultimately withdrawn, resulting in a consent order regarding the alleged condition of Willey’s yard.

Earlier this year, one of Webb’s inspectors entered Willey’s property to conduct a compliance inspection, culminating with Webb issuing new notices for Willey to make other improvements. Several days later, Webb and one of her inspectors visited Willey’s property without advance notice, as required by the consent order. At that time, Webb allegedly berated Willey before “violently” affixing Notices of Violation to a fiberglass cover on his boat, damaging the boat cover.

Webb subsequently filed for an Extreme Risk Protective Order (“ERPO”) to have Willey’s firearms and ammunition confiscated, alleging threats, which Willey steadfastly denies. The complaint accuses Webb of committing perjury resulting in seizure of Willey’s firearms and ammunition and forcing Willey to endure a humiliating involuntary mental health evaluation. The lawsuit alleges Willey’s constitutional rights were violated for nearly two weeks, after which his firearms were returned.

“This is the sort of nonsense we have repeatedly warned about,” said SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “These so-called ‘red flag laws’ can be abused and weaponized against private citizens who have done nothing wrong. It is an outrage.”

Likewise, SAF Executive Director Adam Kraut said, “Red flag laws are based on the inherently Orwellian belief that you can take actions against someone for an alleged crime that hasn’t occurred. Such laws authorize seizure and punishment for a crime nobody committed but which could occur at some place and time in the future. This may work in a science fiction movie, but should not be allowed in real life.”