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. 

To be clear, as was the case under HB 1036, the existing, very rigorous training requirements are not relaxed in the slightest under this bill and no permit is issued without a person satisfying those requirements. That training, however, is relatively hard to find and can be quite expensive, running from around $300 up to $600 for each person in a class. This high cost reflects the number of hours required and the mandatory live-fire course mandated by the State Police.  That live-fire requirement necessitates access to a range, which are relatively few in number in Maryland and most commonly privately owned and operated.  Many, if not most, instructors require a minimum number of persons in a class, typically ten, and classes are not held until that minimum number of persons actually sign up for the class. For these reasons, a person will need at least 120 days to find the course and secure training. This bill allows a person to apply without undergoing that initial and substantial expense, which would be completely wasted if the State Police were to determine that the person is not otherwise qualified for the permit. 

Other jurisdictions follow this same approach.  For example, California imposes a “good cause” requirement for a carry permit. See CA Penal Code 26202. That “good cause” requirement is quite similar to the Maryland “good and substantial reason” requirement imposed by MD Code Public Safety §5-306(a)(6)(ii).  California, like Maryland, likewise imposes a 16 hour training requirement.  CA Penal Code § 26165.  Yet, that same provision also provides that “[t]he applicant shall not be required to pay for any training courses prior to the determination of good cause being made pursuant to Section 26202.  See also Section 26202 (“If the licensing authority determines that good cause exists, the notice shall inform the applicants to proceed with the training requirements specified in Section 26165.”). 

 The District of Columbia and Delaware also follow this approach. See D.C. Mun. Regs. Tit. 24, § 2336.4 (“An applicant may submit to the Chief the application required under § 2337 without including the certificate of completion of training required by this section; provided that if the Chief preliminarily approves the application pursuant to §2339, the applicant has forty-five (45) days to submit the certificate of completion and successfully complete the range training”); 2 DE Code § 1441(e) (allowing a permit to be issued on an approved application after submission of a certificate of completion of the required training, but not establishing any firm deadline for such submission). 

There is no good reason why Maryland cannot give preliminary approval as contemplated by this bill. In 2017, the representative of the Maryland State Police testified that the State Police can accommodate this approach without a problem. See Video of Testimony by State Police on HB 162 before the House Judiciary Committee (Feb. 7, 2017), available at http://mgahouse.maryland.gov/mga/play/421c69fc-fd71-4351-bb1a-f78440aa18f4/?catalog/03e481c7-8a42-4438-a7da-93ff74bdaa4c&playfrom=1499000 (exchange with Del. Anderson, starting at 29.00 minutes).  This is just good government. We urge a favorable report. 

Sincerely,

Mark W. Pennak
President, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.

PDF Available Here


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

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