Response to “The handgun board that couldn't shoot straight.”
The Sun, in its February 8, 2019 editorial, ably demonstrates once again that it does not grasp the complexity of gun law in Maryland in asserting that the Handgun Permit Review Board somehow has created a “loophole” in Maryland gun law by reversing the Maryland State Police 222 times on handgun wear and carry permits issued by the State Police.
First, Sun fails to note that the vast majority of those 222 times involve reversals on restrictions on permits that the State Police have issued and thus have already found that the applicant has a “good and substantial reason” under Maryland law for carrying a handgun outside the home. These persons include business entrepreneurs carrying cash, security guards, private investigators and federal government employees with top security clearances and who are vulnerable to attack by foreign and domestic terrorists. Even the State Police recognize that such individuals qualify for permits.
What the Sun does not tell its readers is that the restrictions placed on those permits by the State Police are hopelessly vague and thus expose these individuals to a great risk of detention, arrest and incarceration because the State Police have effectively required these individuals to forgo their constitutional rights and prove to an officer at the side of the road that they are within these vague restrictions. That’s indefensible. The Board quite properly has insisted that the restrictions not be vague. The State Police simply refuse to do so, apparently preferring to leave these law-abiding citizens at great legal peril. Shame on them.
The Sun demonstrates its ignorance of Maryland law by asserting that the Board is somehow acting improperly in holding some of these hearings in closed session. Virtually all of these hearings involve restriction cases where the appeal is seeking to lift the restriction on an existing permit. Maryland law expressly protects the confidentiality of these individuals who thus have every right to request closed sessions. MD Code, General Provisions, § 4-325. These closed sessions are thus fully compliant with and, indeed, required by the Maryland’s Open Meeting statute. MD Code General Provisions § 3-305(b)(13). Look it up. The Board is just doing its job. The Sun needs to bone up on the law.
Finally, the Sun badly errs in suggesting that Maryland is safer because it restricts the right to carry to a truly tiny number of individuals. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia (yes DC!) are “shall issue” jurisdictions that provide permits to every law-abiding adult individual upon proof that the applicant has met objective requirements (such as training) and after conducting a background check. Yet, it is Baltimore that leads the nation with the highest per capita murder rate. For example, Philadelphia, (Pennsylvania is a “shall issue” permit state), with a population more than double that of Baltimore, actually has far fewer murders than Baltimore and a murder rate of less than half of Baltimore. So much for gun control making Maryland safer. As for carry permits, even gun control advocates admit that permit holders are the most law-abiding persons in America, with crime rates a fraction of those of commissioned police officers (See: Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States). The most recent study (January 2019) published by the American College of Surgeons (hardly a gun group) demonstrated “no statistically significant association between the liberalization of state level firearm carry legislation over the last 30 years and the rates of homicides or other violent crime.” The facts matter.
In short, the only entity that isn’t “shooting straight” is the Sun.
Mark W. Pennak, President
Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.
1332 Cape St. Claire Road #342
Annapolis, MD 21409