Year in Review
2020 has been a year that many would rather forget and for good reason. But the need for advocacy in support of Second Amendment rights did not stop in 2020 and it will be no less urgent in 2021. A year-in-review perspective is useful.
The 2020 Legislative Session
As with most meetings of the Maryland General Assembly, this one was rife with attacks on your rights. There were bills that would have criminalized the possession of previously grandfathered "assault weapons," and banned certain classes of rifles, and homemade firearms. Other bills would have burdened most gun dealers into certain closure, sponsored a "buyback" of guns, and even a bill that would have investigated the feasibility of installing GPS trackers on privately-owned guns. MSI and its members came out in force against all of these bills and helped put a stop to them with thoughtful and stirring testimony. The clock ran out on most of the bad bills, but one did slip through. HB4/SB208, which criminalizes private transfers of long guns, did pass. Fortunately, Governor Hogan broke out his pen after the session to veto the legislation. We have little doubt that some in the legislature would like to override this veto in this upcoming session, so please be prepared to support the veto with letters and calls to your legislators. Likewise, be on the lookout for the same bills that didn't make it in 2020 to return soon in the 2021 legislative session.
Keeping track of the 2020 General Assembly was immeasurably easier with the implementation of MSI's new sleek Bill Tracker for keeping up to date with the happenings in Annapolis. It was inspired by the Gun Case Tracker administered by Rob Romano with the Firearms Policy Coalition (we also proudly feature that tracker HERE). The tracker makes it easy to see what your representatives are up to and how to reach out to them. The tracker keeps "track" of legislators' attitude toward your rights, as measured by a "Rights Observance Score." The higher the number, the better. The lower... well, you know. All of the votes on the floor and in committee are preserved, as well as links to testimony and even info on how to testify. For a more in-depth look at the 2020 session, click HERE.
Maryland Shall Issue v Hogan (Takings)
Maryland Shall Issue wasn't just busy in the political realm of lawmakers, but so too in the courts. In January at the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, VA, MSI President Mark Pennak argued our takings lawsuit against 2018's SB707, which criminalized the possession of bump stocks and "Rapid Fire Trigger Activators" without affording just compensation for the deprivations caused by the bill to existing owners. In a split, 2-1 decision the Fourth Circuit sustained by the bill against our Takings claims but we've since filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari before the United States Supreme Court. The case has been docketed by the Court as No. 20-855. A response from the State is due 03/29/2021, as extended.
Maryland Shall Issue v Hogan (HQL)
As if that weren't enough, the President in May also argued against the Handgun Qualification License alongside co-counsel John Sweeney on behalf of Atlantic Guns. This appeal was also before the Fourth Circuit albeit this time via teleconference due to COVID-19. The court would later rule in our favor the parties had standing to challenge the HQL requirements This is the FIRST win for any gun rights-related organization in the Fourth; big deal! The case was kicked back to the district court where litigation is ongoing.
Call v Jones
But wait, there's more! In November, MSI was pleased to partner with the Firearms Policy Coalition, Second Amendment Foundation, and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms as plaintiffs in a new challenge to MD's ban on carrying handguns in public. That case is making its way through the lower courts now. While the suit recognizes that the Fourth Circuit's prior decision in Woollard had sustained the constitutionality of Maryland's "may issue" law, the point of the suit is to present this issue to the Supreme Court. As we all know, the composition of the Supreme Court has changed since Woollard was decided and we are hopeful that the Court will agree to hear the case. If successful, this suit would result in the end of MD's discriminatory may-issue carry permit scheme.
FPC and SAF have also brought forward a new suit against MD's ban on common semi-automatic firearms and magazines, which MSI and others had previously litigated in Kolbe v Hogan. A legal doctrine called "res judicata" keeps MSI from being an actual party to this suit, but we enthusiastically support it. As in Call v. Jones, this suit was brought so as to bring the issue to the Supreme Court. We will bring you updates regarding these suits as they progress through the courts.
MSI's Growth and New Gun Owners
This year has seen a deluge of interest in gun ownership across the country and among people of all walks of life. The "people" of the United States have a renewed understanding of the need for self-defense. The trend has been even more notable in MD. MSI members and volunteers have been very busy welcoming members to the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore and taking these new gun owners to the range. A simple friendly conversation about guns and 2A rights and a fun day can be all it takes to create a new ally in defense of everyone's rights. Many of you have been doing just that. When lawmakers introduce bills that attempt to further criminalize gun owners, it is these newly educated citizens that they'll have to answer to.
The organization grew substantially this year and we welcomed outstanding new volunteers into leadership roles. We launched The Good and Substantial Podcast across all major streaming platforms (stay tuned for more) and have kept a steady presence on social media. Local and national press repeatedly engaged with our President and we've seen coverage of happenings here in MD across the gun blogosphere. A great deal of this all has been due to the hard work of MSI's volunteers!
MSI also participated in numerous gun shows in the region. Outreach in places like Frederick, Timonium, Chantilly, VA, and York, PA has brought new members into the organization. At these shows, MSI volunteers helped attendees in understanding Maryland's confusing maze of gun laws that so often trap the unwary in this State. Hats off to our stalwart volunteers at these shows for a job well done. If you're interested in volunteering, please reach out to . Those volunteers often are afforded free admission to the show and those who volunteer four shifts in a year will see their MSI membership renewal comped for the year!
On the Horizon
Because of your support, MSI is a larger and stronger organization than it has ever been. That's important because we face opponents whose resources are nearly bottomless. They will stop at nothing to promote the enactment of new laws that will almost certainly be enforced in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion. These opponents would love nothing better than to find nice little jail cells for you. We hope to frustrate them, with your help. And with the changes to the Supreme Court and so many new fellow 2A supporters, 2021 may well prove to be an interesting year.
MSI's members are ambassadors of responsible gun ownership and its virtues. Don't be a free rider, join or donate to MSI. Thanks to each and every one of you who has supported and continues to support MSI and its mission.