• Legislation

Veto Request for HB4/SB208

March 23, 2020

VIA email to

Mr. Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr.
Chief Legislative Officer
Legislative Office
State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401-1925

Re:  Veto Request for HB 4 / SB 208

Dear Mr. Mitchell: 

As you may know, Maryland Shall Issue is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of gun owners’ rights in Maryland. The undersigned President of Maryland Shall Issue is an attorney and an active member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and the Bar of Maryland, having recently retired from the United States Department of Justice, after 33 years of practicing before the federal Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. 

This letter is submitted on behalf of Maryland Shall Issue, its officers and Board and all its members, to request that Governor Hogan veto HB 4 / SB 208, which criminalizes private sales of ordinary long guns between law-abiding persons.  These bills are misguided and, worse, will criminalize a long-standing activity that has no discernable effect on public safety.  Indeed, it appears that the General Assembly would rather criminalize the law-abiding than enact the Governor’s crime bills that would address actual (and repeated) criminal behavior.  We urge a veto. 

1.  The Premise Of These Bills Is False

The proffered premise of the bill is public safety.  Specifically, the idea appears to be that requiring comprehensive background checks for private sales of long guns will reduce homicides and suicides by keeping guns out of the hands of prohibited persons or persons who may use them to commit suicide.  That premise is false. In a recent study concerning California's comprehensive background check (“CBC”) and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies conducted by researchers from the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and by Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (among others), the study concluded that California’s long standing comprehensive background check system “was not associated with a net change in the firearm homicide rate over the ensuing 10 years in California.”  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047279718306161.  (Study at 1, Abstract).  The researchers further concluded that the same was true for suicides, finding that “[t]he decrease in firearm suicides in California was similar to the decrease in nonfirearm suicides in that state” and that the “[r]esults were robust across multiple model specifications and methods.” (Id.).  As the study also states, “a more rigorous time-series analysis found no effect on firearm suicide and homicide rates from repealing CBC policies in two states.” 

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2020 MDGA - MSI Testimony in Opposition to SB1050

This bill proposes an amendment to MD Code Public Safety § 5-146 to criminalize and increase the penalties for a failure to report a lost or stolen regulated firearm. Under current law, the owner of a regulated firearm has 72 hours to report the lost or theft of the firearm to a local law enforcement agency. A knowingly and willful failure to do so is punishable, on the first offense, as a civil offense with a fine not exceeding $500.00.  On the second or subsequent offense, the failure is punishable as a criminal misdemeanor with imprisonment of 90 days and a fine not exceeding $500.00.

This bill would abolish the civil penalty for the first offense and make a failure to report on the first offense a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Second and subsequent violations are also criminal and punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and a fine of $2,000. 

The Bill Criminalizes the Victim And Is Extreme In The Penalties Imposed

This bill is apparently motivated by a desire to prevent gun diversions and straw purchases by punishing a theft victim for a failure to report a lost or stolen regulated firearm.  Those motivations are misguided.  A Rand Corporation study published in 2018 found that there is no evidence or study that actually supports any reporting requirement.  https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/lost-or-stolen-firearms.html. That Study is attached to this testimony.  Specifically, the Study found that “[w]e found no qualifying studies showing that lost or stolen firearm reporting requirements increased any of the eight outcomes we investigated.”  (Id. at 1).  Indeed, the Study further states that “[w]e found no qualifying studies showing inconclusive evidence about lost or stolen firearm reporting requirements.”  (Id.).  In short, the supposed benefits of such reporting requirements are speculative at best.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition of SB664

This bill proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to create a new State constitutional right of privacy in a new Article 48.  The bill provides:

(A) THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL HAS A NATURAL, ESSENTIAL, AND INHERENT RIGHT TO PRIVACY THAT GUARANTEES FREEDOM FROM GOVERNMENT INTRUSION.

(B) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY INCLUDES THE RIGHT OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO LIVE   FREE   FROM   INTRUSION   CAUSED   BY   OR   DIRECTLY TRACEABLE   TO THE UNAUTHORIZED COLLECTION OF DATA CONCERNING THE INDIVIDUAL BY ANOTHER.

(C) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY DOES NOT PROHIBIT THE STATE FROM REGULATING THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION.

(D) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY MAY NOT BE INFRINGED WITHOUT A SHOWING OF A COMPELLING STATE INTEREST.

(E)(1) THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY PROTECT THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY THROUGH APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION. (2)THE GOVERNOR MAY ENFORCE THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY THROUGH APPROPRIATE EXECUTIVE ACTION.

The Bill Is Unconstitutional In Its Carve-Out of Gun Owners From The Right of Privacy.

The “right to privacy” created by this bill would recognize the right of persons to a “right to privacy that guarantees freedom from government intrusion” and protect the right of individuals “to live free of intrusion” that would arise from the “unauthorized collection of data by another.”  The scope of this new right of privacy is, of course, quite unclear. But, no matter unclear in other respects, one thing is clear:  this right would not apply to gun owners as it provides that this right of privacy “does not prohibit the state from regulating the sale or purchase of a firearm or ammunition.”  Thus, as long as the State can justify its governmental “intrusion” and “data collection” as a regulation of “the sale or purchase of a firearm or ammunition” the right to privacy created by the bill would not exist.  Under this bill, gun owners, alone of all the citizens in Maryland, are carved out as a special class of citizens who are not protected by this new right of privacy.  This carve-out is nothing short of outrageous.  It is also blatantly unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. 

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Everytown Lobbyist Drastically Amends HB1104 - Leave a pistol at home while others in the house? CRIMINAL!

Under these bills (HB1104/SB1074), a law-abiding non-prohibited adult who loans a handgun to another law-abiding, non-prohibited adult must go through all the transfer requirements imposed by Section 5-124. That means that the transferee and the transferor must fill out a firearms application otherwise required by MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-118 (State Form 77-R) at a FFL or a State Police barracks, pay $10 and then wait 7 full days before completing the transfer. If the transferee to the loan were to return the handgun to the original transferor after the loan was over, the process would have to be repeated with still another Form 77-R and still another 7 day wait and still another check for $10. Under MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-144, a knowing “participation” in a “transfer” that violates Section 5-124 is punishable with up to 5 years in prison or a fine up to $10,000, “or both.” This bill overrules controlling precedent of the Maryland Court of Appeals, creates enormous legal traps for innocent gun owners while also bringing Section 5-124 into direct conflict with numerous provisions of existing Maryland firearms law. The bill is breathtaking in its scope.

The manuever is in effect an undoing of the compromise made in 2019 on SB346 (you can read our original testimony on those bills HERE).


2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB672, SB674 and HB914

These Bills 

The purpose of these bills is to provide for greatly enhanced penalties for the theft of a firearm.  Under current law, theft of a firearm is treated just like the theft of any other piece of personal property.  For example, under MD Code Criminal Law § 7-104(g)(2), “a person convicted of theft of property or services with a value of at least $100 but less than $1,500, is guilty of a misdemeanor and: (i) is subject to: 1. for a first conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding $500 or both; and 2. for a second or subsequent conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $500 or both. 

All of these bills would change these penalties to a felony. SB 672 would apply only to theft of a handgun and punish a first offense as a felony, imposing a sentence of at least 2 years and not exceeding 5 years and/or a fine of $5,000. SB 674 and its cross-filed bill, HB 914, would apply to the theft of any firearm and would impose, on the first offense, imprisonment of at least 2 years and not exceeding 5 years and and/or a fine of $1,000.  All the bills would impose minimum sentences of at 2 years on the first offense. 

These Bills Are Necessary For the Public Safety:

Simply put, it is unbelievable that theft of a firearm is punishable so lightly under current law.  The value of most firearms, including most handguns, fall into the range of between $100 and $1,500 and thus theft of such firearms is currently punished at most by 6 months in prison and/or a small fine.  In reality, persons convicted of such a crime are very unlikely to see any jail time at all, as the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines classify this property crime as a Category VII offense (even on a second offense), which is the least serious offense listed in the Guidelines and one that can be punished by mere probation.  See http://www.msccsp.org/Guidelines/Matrices.aspx#property. Yet, it should be obvious that stealing a firearm is a serious threat to the community and, as such, well deserving of actual punishment.  See David J. Cherrington, Crime and Punishment: Does Punishment Work? at 4 (2007) (“Studies of punishment have shown that individuals who have observed others being punished change their behavior almost as much as those who were actually punished.”), available at https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1953&context=facpub.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB881

The HQL Statute and the Bill:

These bills would amend Md Code Public Safety 5-117.1 (HQL statute).  That Section prohibits law-abiding, responsible Maryland citizens from acquiring a handgun unless they have a Handgun Qualification License (“HQL”). Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety, § 5-117.1(c).  Subsection (d) imposes training requirements, including a (i) a minimum of 4 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor” consisting of “(ii) classroom instruction on: 1. State firearm law; 2. home firearm safety; 3. handgun mechanisms and operation; and (iii) a firearms orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm.”  In regulations, the Maryland State Police have added a new and additional live-fire training requirement, mandating that the HQL applicant “safely fires at least one round of live ammunition.”  COMAR 29.03.01.29(C)(4). That live round requirement is not found in the statute. 

In the interests of full disclosure, we note that the live-fire requirement, along with the rest of the HQL statute, is presently being challenged by MSI in federal court. See MSI v. Hogan, 2017 WL 3891705 (D. MD. 2017) (denying the State’s motion to dismiss).  The district court, in a later decision, held that the plaintiffs lacked standing without reaching the merits of the constitutionality of the HQL statute.  That decision is on appeal and is awaiting oral argument.  See MSI v. Hogan, No. 19-1469 (4th Cir.).  On the merits, we believe that it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will make use of a “text, history and tradition” test in reaching of the merits of NYSPRA v. NYC, No. 18-280, cert granted 139 S.Ct. 939 (2019). NYSPRA was argued on December 2, 2019, and numerous petitions for certiorari in Second Amendment cases are now being held by the Supreme Court pending a decision in NYSPRA. The HQL statute will likely fail under the text, history and tradition test that the NYC Court is likely to employ. 

The Live-Fire Requirement Is Not Authorized By the HQL Statute and Is Discriminatory:

It is well-established in Maryland law that “[a]n agency’s authority extends only as far as the General Assembly prescribes.” Thanner Enters., LLC v. Balt. Cty., 995 A.2d 257, 263 (Md. 2010). Thus, an agency’s rule or regulations cannot “contradict the language or purpose of the statute.” Medstar Health v. Md. Health Care Comm’n, 827 A.2d 83, 96 (Md. 2003).  Here, the Maryland State Police has grafted onto Section 5-117.1(d)(3)(iii)’s requirement of a “firearms orientation component” an entirely new “practice component” under which the applicant must safely fire “at least one round of live ammunition.” COMAR 29.03.01.29C(4). Although Section 5-117.1(n) provides that “[t]he Secretary may adopt regulations to carry out the provisions of this section,” it does not allow the Maryland State Police to add new “provisions,” such as adding “a practice component” so as to mandate live-fire. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB880

This bill simply amends MD Code Public Safety § 5-111 and MD Code Public Safety § 5-309 to direct the Maryland State Police to mail a notice of renewal for State firearms licensees and to holders of a Maryland wear and carry permit at least 60 days prior to the expiration of these licenses.  These amendments are imminently sensible.  Allowing these licenses to expire inadvertently usually means that the licensee must start all over from scratch, as if there had never been any license at all.  Other states provide notice to licensees, including carry permits issued to out of state residents. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB910 and SB958

These Bills 

3-D Printers: These bills contain three main parts. First, the bills would enact a new Section 4-602 of the Criminal Law article to the Maryland code in order to ban the use of a 3-D printer TO MANUFACTURE, CAUSE TO BE MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLE, OR CONSTRUCT A FIREARM; OR DISTRIBUTE A COMPUTER PROGRAM DESIGNED FOR THE SPECIFIC PURPOSE OF MANUFACTURING, CAUSING TO BE MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLING, OR CONSTRUCTING A FIREARM USING A 3–DIMENSIONAL PRINTER.  This new section would also provide that A PERSON MAY NOT POSSESS, SELL, OFFER TO SELL, TRANSFER, PURCHASE, OR RECEIVE A FIREARM MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLED, OR CONSTRUCTED IN VIOLATION OF SUBSECTION (C)(1) OF THIS SECTION [the ban on the use of a 3-D printer].

Covert guns: The bills would then enact a new Section 4-603 to ban “COVERT FIREARMS,” which are then listed in the bills.  The bills would also ban “UNDETECTABLE FIREARMS,” which is defined by reference to an undefined “security exemplar,” or by reference to those firearms which cannot be detected by an x-ray machine “COMMONLY USED AT AIRPORTS.”  The bills then provide that a person may not (1) MANUFACTURE, CAUSE TO BE MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLE, OR CONSTRUCT A COVERT FIREARM OR AN UNDETECTABLE FIREARM; OR (2) POSSESS, SELL, OFFER TO SELL, TRANSFER, PURCHASE, OR RECEIVE A COVERT FIREARM OR AN UNDETECTABLE FIREARM.

Serial numbers: Next, the bills would enact new Section 4-604 to provide that a person may not:

(1) MANUFACTURE, CAUSE TO BE MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLE, OR CONSTRUCT A FIREARM THAT IS NOT IMPRINTED WITH A SERIAL NUMBER ISSUED BY A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS MANUFACTURER OR FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS IMPORTER IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL FEDERAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS REGULATING THE MANUFACTURE AND IMPORT OF FIREARMS; OR 

(2) POSSESS, SELL, OFFER TO SELL, TRANSFER, PURCHASE, OR RECEIVE: 

(I) A FIREARM THAT IS NOT IMPRINTED WITH A SERIAL  NUMBER ISSUED BY A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS MANUFACTURER OR FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS IMPORTER IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL FEDERAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS REGULATING THE MANUFACTURE AND IMPORT OF FIREARMS; OR 

(II) AN OBJECT MARKETED OR ADVERTISED TO BE, OR THAT A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD UNDERSTAND TO BE, DESIGNED FOR THE PURPOSE OF BEING MANUFACTURED, ASSEMBLED, OR CONSTRUCTED INTO THE FRAME OR RECEIVER OF A FIREARM THAT IS NOT IMPRINTED WITH A SERIAL NUMBER ISSUED BY A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS MANUFACTURER OR FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS IMPORTER IN COMPLIANCE WITH ALL FEDERAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS REGULATING THE MANUFACTURE AND IMPORT OF FIREARMS.

A. Homemade Guns Are Not Used In Crime And Existing Owners Are Law-Abiding Hobbyists, Not Criminals

These new provisions, if enacted, would severely criminalize a harmless activity that has been perfectly legal under federal and state law for the entire history of the United States, viz., the manufacture of homemade guns for personal use.  Under federal law, a person may legally manufacture a firearm for his own personal use. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(a).  However, “it is illegal to transfer such weapons in any way.” Defense Distributed v. United States, 838 F.3d 451, 454 (5th Cir. 2016).  This manufacture “involves starting with an ‘80% lower receiver,’ which is simply an unfinished piece of metal that looks quite a bit like a lower receiver but is not legally considered one and may therefore be bought and sold freely. It requires additional milling and other work to turn into a functional lower receiver.”  (Id). 

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Future Supreme Court Advocate Demolishes SB816

SB816/HB1257 (http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/sb0816?ys=2020RS) would impose extreme burdens and requirements upon Maryland gun dealers. Dealers are faced with complying or shutting down, seriously limiting Marylanders' ability to defend themselves. You can read our testimony in opposition to these bills here: https://www.marylandshallissue.org/jmain/legislation-tracker/211-2020-mdga-testimony-in-opposition-to-sb816-and-hb1257

We couldn't thank this young advocate any more for her fantastic testimony against these assaults on gun owners and businesses!

You can find all the bills for consideration before the Maryland General Assembly and our testimony at tinyurl.com/guns2020. Contact your reps and tell them not to criminalize Maryland gun owners! http://mdelect.net/

Maryland Shall Issue® is an all volunteer, non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of gun owners' rights in Maryland. It seeks to educate the community about the right of self-protection, the safe handling of firearms, and the responsibility that goes with carrying a firearm in public.


2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB506

Firearms Safety Act of 2013 requires that a person complete a 16 hour training course, taught by a State certified instructor, “prior to application” for a carry permit. MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-306(a)(5). Senate Bill 506 would amend Section 5-306 to delete the requirement that the training be completed “prior to application.” It then provides that a person may file an initial application for a wear and carry permit without completing the training and directs that the State Police to issue a preliminary approval if the person is otherwise qualified for the permit. The person then has 120 days after receipt of the preliminary approval to furnish the State Police the certificate of training otherwise required by the regulations. A permit does not issue until that training certificate is provided.  If no certificate of training is provided, the State Police are directed to revoke the preliminary approval and deny the permit application. 

This bill makes sense.  Indeed, this same bill passed the House of Delegates in 2017 as HB 1036 and that bill was reported out this Committee with a favorable report.  The bill only failed to become law because time ran out at sine die.  The bill is not materially different than the bill that has already passed the House and this Committee. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB816 and HB1257

These Bills and Current Law:  The New Burdens And Conflicts

This State imposes very strict regulation of firearms dealers, requiring that these dealer obtain a state-issued firearms license and submit to inspections on a regular basis by the Maryland State Police.  See, e.g., MD Code Public Safety §5-110, §5-114, §5-115, §5-145. Additional regulatory burdens on dealers were imposed with the enactment of SB 281, the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, including amending MD Code Public Safety 5-145 to impose additional record keeping requirements.  In addition to state regulation, all these dealers are also Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) and are thus heavily regulated by the ATF, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice.  The ATF likewise imposes substantial record-keeping requirements, along with many other requirements concerning the conduct of business, on FFLs.  See 18 U.S.C. § 923; 27 C.F.R. Part 478. 

These bills would impose a vast array of new burdens on State licensed dealer.  First, it would amend MD Code Public Safety 5-145 to require that the dealer keep ELECTRONIC records. The ATF does not permit electronic records. Rather FFL records must be kept in a “bound form” under a format specified in the regulations.  See 27 C.F.R. §478.125(e).  Any alternative format for records must receive special permission, requiring an application, and may not be employed by the FFL until approval is received.  Id. at §478.125(h). Thus, this bill would effectively require the dealer to keep two sets of records, one in electronic format and one in paper format (as required by the ATF).  Indeed, the bills effectively negate the provision in existing law (Section 5-145(a)(4)) that provides that “[r]ecords maintained under 18 U.S.C. § 923(g)(1)(a) may be used to satisfy the requirements of this section, if the Secretary is granted access to those records.” 

The bills would also amend Section 5-145 requiring dealers to keep new records, including requiring the dealer to CREATE A VIDEO AND AUDIO RECORDING OF ALL RECEIPTS, SALES, AND OTHER DISPOSITIONS OF FIREARMS CONDUCTED AT THE DEALER’S BUSINESS.  The dealer must also keep each such audio and video record FOR AT LEAST 1 YEAR AFTER THE RECEIPT, SALE, OR DISPOSITION and submit any such record or recording to the State Police upon demand.  The dealer is required to supply such records not only to the State Police upon request, but also to a Federal agency and to any party in a civil suit simply upon releasing a discovery demand. This release of information to a federal agency is contradicted by 27 C.F.R. § 478.126, which sets forth the manner in which information is released to the ATF, and it authorizes submission only of information “required by this subpart.”  That regulation precludes any alternative form of submission without special approval. The mandated release of information in a civil suit is breathtaking in scope and includes disposition information of the name, date of birth, address and driver’s license number of the non-licensee and a copy of Federal Form 4473.  26 C.F.R. §478.125(e).

The bills also amend Section 5-145 to impose a host of new security procedures and hardware, requiring the dealer to DEVELOP AND KEEP A WRITTEN STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE TO PROTECT INVENTORY FROM THEFT OR UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS. That procedure must include locks, exterior lighting, surveillance cameras and an alarm system. No such requirements are imposed upon FFLs by the federal regulations. 

The bills also amend MD Code Public Safety 5-147 to impose new employment criteria on dealers.  Under this provision, as amended, a dealer may not only not employ a prohibited person, but is also barred from employing any person FOR WHOM THE LICENSED DEALER HAS NOT OBTAINED A STATE AND NATIONAL CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS CHECK AS REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION.  The bills go on to require the dealer to apply, by June 30 of EACH YEAR, TO THE CENTRAL REPOSITORY FOR A STATE AND NATIONAL CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS CHECK BY SUBMITTING TO THE CENTRAL REPOSITORY: TWO COMPLETE SET OF FINGERPRINTS OF THE EMPLOYEE and THE FEE for such checks.  Finally, if the dealer should fail to comply with any of these new requirements (or any of the requirements of existing law), the dealer may be fined $1,000 for the first offense and imprisoned for 3 YEARS and a fine of $10,000 or BOTH for the second such offense.

Next, the bills create a new Section 5-148 to provide that A LICENSED DEALER SHALL AT ALL TIMES MAINTAIN LIABILITY INSURANCE FOR THE ACTS OF ANOTHER USING A FIREARM SOLD, RENTED, OR TRANSFERRED BY THE LICENSED DEALER IN THE AMOUNT OF AT LEAST $2,000,000. A violation of this provision is punishable by a civil penalty of $1,000 on first offense and 3 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for any subsequent offense. The bills also mandate, in new Section 5-149, that a dealer REPORT ANY THEFT OF A FIREARM FROM THE LICENSED DEALER’S PLACE OF BUSINESS TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY, AS DEFINED IN § 3–201 OF THIS ARTICLE, IMMEDIATELY UPON DISCOVERING THE THEFT. Any failure to “immediately” report the theft is punishable by a $1,000 civil fine on the first offense and 3 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine for any second offense. Nowhere does the bill explain why dealers should be required to insure against the harm caused by the wrongful acts of another where the sale was otherwise fully legal. At common law, the negligent or unlawful acts of another are an intervening or superseding cause for which the dealer cannot be held liable.  See Pittway Corp. v. Collins, 409 Md. 218, 248-49 (2009); Section 442 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts. Dealers are not guarantors against harm inflicted by otherwise lawful purchasers.

Finally, the bills create a new Section 5-150 which governs day-to-day business activities. Under this Section, the dealer must STORE EACH FIREARM IN A LOCKING DISPLAY CASE OR ANOTHER SECURE LOCATION THAT IS INACCESSIBLE TO CUSTOMERS and ENSURE THAT EACH FIREARM THAT IS DISPLAYED TO A CUSTOMER IS RENDERED INOPERABLE WITH A TRIGGER LOCK OR ANOTHER  MECHANISM.  This provision effectively kneecaps the dealer.  Virtually every potential purchaser demands to work the action and pull the trigger of a firearm before making any purchase.  Banning this practice will ensure that the buyer will go elsewhere. After business hours, the bills mandate that the dealer SHALL LOCK ALL 23 FIREARMS IN:  (I) A VAULT; (II) A SAFE; OR (III) A REINFORCED DISPLAY CASE WITH SHATTERPROOF GLASS. This requirement just adds to the costs. The first violation by dealer is punishable by a $1,000 civil fine while any subsequent violation is punishable by 3 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB636 and SB646

These bills would amend Md Code Criminal Law § 4-104.  Specifically, current law provides that “[a] person may not store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to the firearm.”   A child is defined for these purposes as a person “under the age of 16 years.”  This bill would change the definition of a child to a person under the age of 18 years and modifies the prohibition to provide that a “person may not store or leave a loaded OR UNLOADED firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child COULD gain access to the firearm, UNLESS THE FIREARM IS LOCKED.” The bills will likewise repeal the exception in existing law that allows a child to have access to firearms if the child has a certificate of firearm and hunter safety issued under § 16 10–301.1 of the Natural Resources Article. 

It also changes the punishment.  Current law punishes a violation of this section as “a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000.”  No prison time is imposed under current law.  These bills would create three new layers of offense with increasing punishments.   Merely leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” is punishable with 90 days imprisonment and a $1,000 fine.  At the next level, leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” and the minor actually gains access is punishable with 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of $2,500.  And at the final level, leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” and “THE FIREARM CAUSES HARM TO THE MINOR OR TO 3 ANOTHER PERSON” is punishable with 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. 

THE BILLS ARE DRACONIAN, IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLY WITH AND PATENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB422

Current Maryland Law:

This bill purports to address and impose new training requirements on persons who hold a “wear and carry permit” issued by the Maryland State Police pursuant to MD Code Public Safety § 5-306.  Under MD Code Public Safety § 5-309(a), such “a permit expires on the last day of the holder's birth month following 2 years after the date the permit is issued.”  Under Section 5-309(b), “a permit may be renewed for successive periods of 3 years each if, at the time of an application for renewal, the applicant possesses the qualifications for the issuance of a permit and pays the renewal fee stated in this subtitle.”  Thus, the initial permit is good for two years and renewed permits are good for three years. 

Current Maryland law also imposes among the most (if not the most) demanding and stringent training requirements of any state.  Under Section 5-306(a)(5)(i), an applicant must first complete (prior to submitting any application for a permit) 16 hours of instruction given by a State Police certified qualified handgun instructor.  Similarly, any person seeking to renew a carry permit must submit proof of “8 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor.”  (Id.).  For both the initial application and the renewal, that instruction must include “a firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant's proficiency and use of the firearm.  Section 5-306(a)(5)(ii).  Under this requirement, the State Police mandate a minimum score on a prescribed, timed course of live-fire at multiple distances from the target (3yds, 5yds, 7yds and 15yds). That score must be certified by the instructor with the actual score achieved specified in the certification by the instructor. 

The Bill:

This bill would add a new Section 5-306.1 to the Public Safety Article to provide that:

A PERSON TO WHOM A PERMIT IS ISSUED OR RENEWED SHALL SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE ON SEPARATE DAYS EACH CALENDAR YEAR: 

(I) A COURSE ON SITUATIONAL AWARENESS APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY; AND 

(II) A COURSE ON THE COMPETENT HANDLING OF A FIREARM APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY. 

The bill would further amend MD Code Public Safety §5-310 to allow the State Police to revoke a permit on grounds that the holder of the permit failed to meet these new requirements imposed by this new Section.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB968 and HB1160

These bills would create a new section 4-111 in the Criminal Law Article of the Maryland Code to provide that A PERSON MAY NOT SELL, OFFER TO SELL, OR DISPLAY AN IMITATION FIREARM, which the bills define to mean “A TOY, A DEVICE, OR AN OBJECT THAT SUBSTANTIALLY DUPLICATES OR CAN REASONABLY BE  PERCEIVED TO  BE  A FIREARM.”  The bills apply only to the City of Baltimore. 

The Bills Are Preempted By Federal Law:

The bills effectively ban the sale of imitation guns the sale of which are expressly protected by federal law (15 U.S.C. § 5001), and federal regulations (15 C.F.R. § 272.2, et seq.).  That federal law establishes a system by which imitation firearms are marked and preempts any State regulation of sales, providing in 15 U.S.C. § 5001(g):

The provisions of this section shall supersede any provision of State or local laws or ordinances which provide for markings or identification inconsistent with provisions of this section provided that no State shall

(i) prohibit the sale or manufacture of any look-alike, nonfiring, collector replica of an antique firearm developed prior to 1898, or

(ii) prohibit the sale (other than prohibiting the sale to minors) of traditional B-B, paint ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB302

Statutory Context and the Bill: 

A “dangerous weapon” is defined by MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-101 to include a wide assortments of weapons, but that list excludes “a penknife without a switchblade.”  A “penknife” is simply a folding knife, like a Swiss Army knife.  See Bacon v. State, 322 Md. 140 (1991).  Persons excluded from 4-101’s ban include law enforcement officers, persons with a Maryland wear and carry permit to carry a handgun and “a person who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”

However, MD Code Criminal law, 4-102(b), provides that a “person may not carry or possess a firearm, knife, or deadly weapon of any kind on public school property.” Because this provision separately bans knives, not even a folding penknife can be possessed on public school property. Section 4-102 makes an exception for law enforcement officers who are on duty or who are a parent, guardian, or visitor of a child at the school. It also makes an exception for “a person hired by a county board of education specifically for the purpose of guarding public school property.”  Unlike Section 4-101, Section 4-102 makes no exception for persons with a Maryland wear and carry permit. For mere possession of every weapon besides a handgun, a violation of Section 4-102 is punishable by “imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.”  Possession of a handgun on public school property is punished more severely. Under MD Code Criminal Law, 4-203(c)(2)(i), possession of a handgun on public school property “is subject to imprisonment for not less than 30 days and not exceeding 3 years or a fine of not less than $250 and not exceeding $2,500 or both.” 

This bill would expand Section 4-102 to include not only public school property but also include “NONPUBLIC” school property.  It would exclude from its coverage “a person hired by A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF GUARDING NONPUBLIC SCHOOL PROPERTY.  Because wear and carry permit holders are not exempt under 4-203 for public schools, such permits holders would likewise be banned from private school property under this bill. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB208

The bill (as well as its cross-filed bill HB4) would add a wholly new set of restrictions on temporary and permanent long gun “transfers” which would be defined in an extremely broad manner.  The bills would severely criminalize any non-compliance with its many and highly complex new restrictions.  The bills would effectively eviscerate loans of guns between law-abiding individuals, including fellow hunters and effectively destroy the market value of countless gun collections, as their sales would be all but banned. The bills mandate the use background checks by Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) for private loans of long guns in a manner that would actually violate federal law.  The bills would create nightmarish uncertainty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Finally, the bills ignore the well-documented reality that these sorts are long guns are almost never used in crime.  Indeed, FBI statistics demonstrate that a person far more likely to be killed by a knife or hands or feet than a long gun. There is simply no public safety purpose that would be served by these bills.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB198

This bill would amend MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-306(b)(6)(ii) to specify that “self-protection,” or “self-defense” is a basis for finding a “good and substantial” reason for the issuance of a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit.  The bills leave unaltered the rest of Section 5-306, including leaving unchanged the rigorous training requirements of 16 hours of instruction that includes a live fire component that “demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm.” Also unchanged is the requirement that the State Police conduct a background investigation using the applicant’s fingerprints, and the requirement that the State Police find that the applicanthas not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another,” found at § 5-306(b)(6)(ii). 

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2020 MDGA - Information Only Testimony for SB179 and HB73

While different (HB 73 is more extensive), both bills provide that “a person may not be denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm under this title solely on the basis that the person” is authorized to use medical cannabis under title 13, subtitle 33 of the Health – General Article of Maryland law.  MSI takes no position with respect to the merits of these bills.  However, we do wish to point out some legal realities for purposes of informing the debate on these bills. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support with Amendments to HB47, HB265, SB156, and SB327

The Statutory Scheme and the Problem Addressed by these Bills:

Under MD Code Public Safety 5-117.1(c), [a] person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person” obtains a Handgun Qualification License” (HQL).   Under Section 5-117.1(a), the statue does not apply to “a law enforcement officer or person who is retired in good standing from service with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or a local law enforcement agency of the State.”  By its terms, this exclusion for active and retired law enforcement officers applies only to federal agents or law enforcement officers of the State of Maryland

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Latest News

Shooting Ranges and Dealers Are Critical Infrastructure and May Remain Open!

Gun Ranges and and Federal Firearms Licensees may remain open!

Governor Hogan's latest order (dated March 30, 2020) states:

This Order controls the occupancy and use of all businesses, organizations, establishments, and facilities that are not part of the critical infrastructure sectors identified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (currently described at https://www.cisa.gov/identifying-critical-infrastructure-during-covid-19) (collectively, “Non-Essential Businesses”).

That cross reference to the DHS website is controlling as to the scope of the Governor's definition of "non-essential businesses."  Stated differently, the order expressly does NOT apply to businesses that are part of the "critical infrastructure sectors," as defined by DHS.  That cross reference thus requires reference to the DHS site in order to determine what is a "critical infrastructure" business. 

At that DHS website is the Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response Version 2.0 (March 28, 2020), available at https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/CISA_Guidance_on_the_Essential_Critical_Infrastructure_Workforce_Version_2.0_Updated.pdf.  That document sets out the "identified essential critical infrastructure workers," which includes:  "Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges."  Those businesses may remain open, including "firearm or ammunition . . . retailers" and "shooting ranges." 

We endorse the Governor's recommendations for safe practices while at these facilities.  See https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/.  If you have any questions on the scope of the Governor's orders, you should consult your lawyer.  The Governor's orders have the force of law and a violation of the orders is a criminal misdemeanor.  See MD Code, Public Safety, § 14-114.

Link to Governor Hogan's Fourth Executive Order

Link to the latest guidance from the Department of Homeland Security

Maryland Shall Issue has joined the AGC!

As of March 19th, 2020, the AGC is currently closed due to Governor Hogan's Executive Orders in efforts to mitigate COVID-19. You can find those orders here: https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Amending-Gatherings.pdf

 


MSI is now an AGC club!


Maryland Shall Issue, inc. is proud to announce that it has formally joined the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore (AGC) as an Associated Club. Therefore, anyone who is a current member of MSI in good standing is eligible to purchase an AGC range badge upon completion of a range safety orientation. This is an important benefit for members as the AGC range is one of the finest shooting facilities on the East Coast. 

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Contact Info

Headquarters:

Maryland Shall Issue®, Inc.
9613 Harford Rd
Ste C #1015
Baltimore, MD 21234-2150

Phone:  410-849-9197
Email: 
Web:   www.marylandshallissue.org