Post-Legislative Session Update - What Passed and What Didn't
What a Session! We saw the most anti-gun bills introduced since 2013. But as a community, we stood tall and defeated almost every single anti-gun measure. Maryland Shall Issue thanks each and every one of you who took time from your days, evenings, and endured sleepless nights to contribute to the defense and advancement of your fellow Marylanders rights. Despite this particularly hostile legislative session, you didn't tire or throw in the towel. Without your phone calls, meetings, letters, and testimony, who knows the damages and criminal penalties Marylanders would be facing this year. We know we can count on you when the time calls and are honored to have your support. Again, thank you.
Post-Legislative Session Update
Last night marked the end of the 90-day Legislative Session and with it a bunch of gun-related bills that failed to hit the Governor's desk, and a few that did. Here's our recap.
Bills that passed and awaiting action from Governor Hogan
SB346 Public Safety – Regulated Firearms – Prohibition of Loans
Criminalizes knowingly "loaning" a regulated firearm to prohibited people or those you know will commit a crime or do harm. A vast improvement over what was originally introduced. The original bills would have amended Section 5-124 of the Public Article to criminal any such loan or gift of a regulated firearm without going through the 77R transfer process. Instead, the bill amends a different provision, Section 5-134 simply to ban "loans" to prohibited persons. That Section already banned transfers to such persons. The original bills would have criminalized vast amounts of innocent conduct, but as enacted the legislation is a win for common sense, in the true meaning of the phrase. We count the enacted version as a big win.
SB1000/HB1343 Public Safety - Handgun Permit Review Board- Repeal
Abolishes the Handgun Permit Review Board as of the date of enactment, thus ending civilian oversight of the Maryland State Police for decisions made on Wear and Carry Permit denials and permit modifications. If denied by the MSP, an applicant or permit holder must appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings at considerable cost. Maybe the Governor will veto? We hear he might. We hope so. Let him know what you think! https://governor.maryland.gov/contact-us/
SB622 Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention – Crime Firearms – Study
Studies where crime guns come from and related issues and compels the Maryland State Police to generate reports for the study. Interestingly enough, it also studies other states' concealed carry laws. The bill is now on Governor Hogan’s desk. We are neutral on this legislation.
HB92/SB113 Public Safety - Handgun Permits - Payment of Fees
The Maryland State Police are moving to an entirely online method of applying for Wear and Carry Permits and this bill provides options for payment. As passed, applicants may pay via an electronic check, a credit card, or a method of online payment approved by the Secretary (of the State Police). We argued for and would have preferred more forms of payment. We see the bill as MSP house-keeping.
Bills that didn't pass
Public Safety - Regulated Firearms - Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR Rifle
Would have banned possession of HBAR rifles purchased after 10/01/2013. Nearly 6 years worth of lawfully possessed rifles would need to be discarded by their owners without compensation. This bill never made it out of the House Judiciary Committee. A big win!
HB468/SB441 Public Safety - Access to Firearms - Storage Requirements
Would have brought on criminal penalties for those who didn't secure firearms from children (redefined as anyone under 18) who could gain access. It never left committee in either chamber. A big win.
HB740/SB882 Criminal Law – Firearms – Computer-Aided Fabrication and Serial Number (3-D Printed Firearms)
Would have imposed criminal penalties for manufacture and mere possession of homemade firearms. HB740 passed the House with amendments that tried to narrow what guns were affected (those 3D printed or finished with a CNC mill, for example) and also added a requirement for the State Police to report how much it would cost to register every unserialized firearm in the State. The Senate counterpart never saw a vote in the Judicial Proceedings Committee. HB740, as passed by the House, never made it out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Another bill, SB8 would have also criminalized mere possession of digital files related to making guns, but the hearing on this bill was canceled and the bill was never considered again. We count these results as multiple big wins.
HB342/HB541/SB115 Public Safety - Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport a Handgun - Qualifications
All of these bills would have added self-defense as satisfying good and substantial reason for getting a carry permit. Unlike any other time in recent history, both committees held votes on the bills. Unfortunately, they were all given unfavorable reports and killed in committee. You can see the Senate votes here and the House votes here. These bills will be refiled next year, and may then benefit from a Supreme Court decision in NYSRPA v. NYC, No. 18-280, cert. granted, 2019 WL 271961 (S.Ct. Jan 22, 2019), a New York City case involving transport outside the home. That case will likely be argued in October this year. We believe that the days of "may issue" in Maryland are numbered as Maryland will be compelled by the federal courts to join 42 other states and the District of Columbia as "shall issue."
SB114 Firearms - Handgun Permit - Preliminary Approval
Would have permitted a carry permit applicant to file an application for a permit without the required training, to be completed within 120 days if the State Police granted "preliminary approval." This bill has been introduced and had some success before, but this year, the bill passed only the Senate, where its lead sponsor, Senator Hough pushed it through. Alas, the bill went nowhere in the House, where it never emerged from committee. A loss, for sure, but it won't matter once Maryland becomes "shall issue."
HB722 Criminal Law - Theft of a Firearm
Would have substantially increased the penalties for theft of a firearm. The bill was voted unfavorably in the Judiciary committee. It was reintroduced as an amendment to HPRB repeal during final passage of that bill in the Senate, but it was rejected on the floor. We support the concept but were neutral on the bill.
HB749/SB97 Firearms - Right to Purchase, Possess, and Carry - Use of Medical Cannabis
These bills would have prevented MSP from denying gun buyers, owners, and permit applicants over medical cannabis use. SB97 passed the Senate but wasn't considered in the House Judiciary Committee. We testified on the bill to advise about federal law, but took no position on the bill.
SB737/HB786 Public Safety – Rifles and Shotguns – Sales, Rentals, Transfers, and Loans
As introduced the bills would have required anyone wanting a rifle or a shotgun in Maryland to get a Long Gun Qualification License and register their purchases, just as with handguns. It would have also criminalized virtually all private transfers of long guns, including temporary loans. The House Judiciary Committee stripped licensing and registration in committee from HB786, but left in bans on private sales, loans, and transfers. The House passed that version. In the Senate, however, the bill was narrowed even further to provide that only in cases involving an actual sale (not a loan) would the parties to a private sale be required to seek out an FFL to perform a NICS check. On April 8, the House refused to accede to the Senate's amendments of HB786 and appointed a Conference Committee. But by that time there was less than an hour remaining in the session. The clock then simply run out on the bills and neither became law. This was a huge win!
We will find out in the coming days what Governor Hogan will choose to do with the bills repealing the HPRB. The other bills are considered by us to be non-controversial. MSI will be spending the coming months focusing on strategies for the 2020 General Assembly and will keep the membership informed on developments. In the meantime, be sure to come to our next membership meeting on Saturday, April 20th at The Meeting House in Columbia at 1:30 pm. We'll be discussing these bills at length and will be happy to answer any questions you may have. There's also plenty of lawsuit news to go over.
Entry to the meeting requires current membership in good standing. You can renew your membership or join at the meeting.