MGA2019: Written Testimony in Opposition of SB113

SB 113 would amend MD Code Public Safety 5-304. That section sets out the requirements for an application for wear and carry permits issued by the Maryland State Police. It establishes fee caps for the applications and provides that the applicant for a carry permit may pay the fees under this section by “a personal check, business check, certified check or money order.” SB 113 would amend this last requirement, providing that the applicant must pay via “a method of payment approved by the Secretary.” For the reasons set forth below, this change is misguided and would impose additional barriers on applicants who lack the means to meet the State Police’s new requirements.

Specifically, in January of 2019, the undersigned was privileged to be invited to a demonstration conducted by the State Police of a beta version of their new, fully electronic application process for carry permit applications. At the demonstration, the State Police stated that this electronic application will be the exclusive means of making an application and that individuals would be expected to scan and attach all supporting documentation to this electronic application. Because Maryland is a “may issue” state, the State Police require substantial documentation for all carry permits and, as a result, many applications are quite voluminous. In addition, the State Police intend that the payment of fees would be conducted solely by credit card or debit card. Once a credit card vendor is approved, the State Police do not intend to accept checks of any type. The State Police thus need this bill in order to institute this “credit card only” method of payment for electronic applications.

As a general matter, we have no objection to an electronic application process. Many “shall issue” states, such as Utah, have such a process and it works well.

However, those states do not require the heavy documentation required by the State Police here. We thus oppose the efforts of the State Police to make the application process even harder and more burdensome for the applicant than it already is. Specifically, applicants should retain the option of submitting applications in paper form and the State should continue to allow payment of the requisite fees by personal check or certified check, as currently provided in Section 5-304. While many applicants may possess scanners and computers with fast internet connections, not all applicants are so fortune as to be so well equipped. Not all applicants possess a credit card. The process should not discriminatory.

Indeed, the State Police will likely face many more applications from such less affluent persons should the Supreme Court resolve the current conflict in the circuits and hold that the Second Amendment applies outside the home. In Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 846 F.3d 650 (D.C. Cir. 2017), the D.C. Circuit squarely held that the Second Amendment applied outside the home, holding unconstitutional, under the Second Amendment, D.C.’s requirement that an applicant for a carry permit show “good reason to fear injury.” Under Wrenn, D.C. is now a “shall issue” jurisdiction. The Fourth Circuit, in contrast, sustained Maryland “good and substantial reason” requirement on a facial attack in Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865, 876 (4th Cir.), cert. denied, 134 S.Ct. 422 (2013). This circuit conflict is presently before the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari filed in Rogers v. Grewal, No. 18-824 (filed Dec. 20, 2018), a case involving a challenge to New Jersey’s “good cause” requirement.

Lawsuits challenging the “good cause” laws of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland will soon make their way to the Supreme Court as well. The conflict between these laws and the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Wrenn is direct and unavoidable and thus will have to be resolved soon by the Supreme Court. The scope of the Second Amendment outside the home may also be addressed in NYSRPA v. NYC, 883 F.3d 45 (2d Cir. 2018), cert. granted, 2019 WL 271961 (S.Ct. Jan 22, 2019), a New York City case involving transport outside the home. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear that case. A decision will likely be in late 2019 or 2020, during the Court’s next Term. The State Police should thus be maximizing the “user friendliness” of the application process, not making it more difficult and expensive. Administrative convenience for the State Police is not a constitutionally valid reason to burden access to the right. We urge that the bill be withdrawn or be given a negative report by this Committee. Alternatively, the bill should be amended to require the State Police to accept paper applications or electronic submissions, at the applicant’s option, and payment by check.

 

Tags: Legislation, Testimony, gun bills


Latest News

Court Uphold's MD's Taking of Rapid Fire Trigger Activators

 

In a sharply split, 2-1 decision, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that Maryland may ban the possession of "Rapid Fire Trigger Activators" by existing owners without paying just compensation under Fifth Amendment or the Maryland Constitution.  The majority ruled that no just compensation was owed to existing, lawful owners because the ban “does not require owners of rapid fire trigger activators to turn them over to the Government or to a third party.”  In short, as far as this majority is concerned, the State is free to ban the possession of any personal property without paying just compensation unless the State puts the property into its own pocket or the pocket of a third party.  If that is the law, then no personal property, of any kind, is safe from the grasping clutches of the General Assembly.  For example, the State could ban possession of your existing car and not pay a dime.  The dissenting opinion ably demolishes the majority's reasoning.  Needless to say, we will be seeking further review.

You can read the ruling HERE.  Stay tuned.

Maryland Shall Issue will continue to fight for the interests and rights of its members and the public, but to do so requires resources and your help. Consider joining or donating to MSI.

Background Checks for Firearms Purchases and Licenses Interrupted

Due to a systems failure on the morning of June 21st within the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services (DPSCS), the Maryland State Police (MSP) was no longer able to complete background checks for Handgun Qualification Licenses (HQL), regulated firearms transfers (77R transfers), and Wear and Carry Permit background investigations. DPSCS have since restored their systems and the MSP have been processing background checks as fast as they can. We appreciate the efforts of the State Police to remedy the backlog as quickly as possible, though the bureaucratic processes created by the General Assembly compounds these issues for Marylanders who are merely trying to protect themselves.

From the MSP:

Background Checks Underway After Data System Restored

(PIKESVILLE, MD) — Maryland State Police Licensing Division employees worked throughout the night and will continue to work around-the-clock to address pending regulated firearm purchase applications after a state data system was restored late yesterday.

At about 8:30 p.m. yesterday, the State Police Licensing Division was notified by officials at the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services that the data system had been restored and access to background check information was available.  Employees at the Licensing Division immediately began completing background check investigations on the regulated firearm purchase applications that had been pending since a system failure occurred on June 21st.

Licensing Division employees worked throughout the night and will continue to work around-the-clock until all pending and incoming regulated firearm purchase applications have been reviewed and are being completed within Maryland’s required seven day waiting period.  Even with employees working 24-hours-a-day to address this, the process is anticipated to take several days to complete.  The Licensing Division continues to work with Maryland’s licensed firearms dealers to track any regulated firearm released after the waiting period, but before full completion of the background check process.

As of 4:00 p.m. yesterday, information from Maryland firearms dealers indicated that of the 893 firearm purchase applications eligible for release, 54 regulated firearms had been released to customers after the seven day waiting period had passed.  The individuals receiving those firearms were the first ones background checks were conducted on during the night.  There were no prohibiting factors found for any of those applicants.


As far as we know, there's no evidence or information to suggest that anyone's personal information was comprimised while the systems were down and none of the applicants whose dealer released firearms to them failed or would have failed background checks.

While the MSP have asked the Dealers to hold off on releasing any regulated firearms (handguns) until the checks completed, dealers may release regulated firearms on the 8th day after a transaction at their discretion. From the MSP's latest advisory on 6/25:

Should the RFD elect to exercise their statutory option to release a regulated firearm on the eighth day, we ask that the procedure listed below be followed:

1. The RFD will access their Licensing Portal;
2. locate the application to be released within the “SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS” section;
3. print a copy of the application;
4. verify that all information in “Section 4” is accurate;
5. both the RFD and the applicant will sign and complete “Section 6;”
6. scan and send the completed copy of the 77R to .

Additional Coverage:
Maryland Handgun Background Check System Crashes, Leaving Gun Buyers in Limbo - Washington Free Beacon
Citing a ‘catastrophic hardware failure,' Maryland State Police report delays in gun background checks and licenses - Baltimore Sun
Guns sold without completed background checks in Maryland - WUSA9
After ‘Catastrophic Hardware Failure,’ Dozens Of Guns Were Released Without Completed Background Checks In Maryland - WAMU

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