MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Partial Opposition to SB10 "Election Law – Polling Sites – Firearms Prohibitions" as Passed by the Senate

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SB10 was amended before passing the Senate. Our testimony below is on this version of the bill. You can read our previous testimony on SB10 HERE.

This bill would amend MD Code, Election Law, §16-904, to provide that a person may not “CARRY OR POSSESS A FIREARM WITHIN 100 FEET OF A POLLING SITE DURING AN ELECTION.”  Second, the bill provides that a person may not “CARRY OR DISPLAY A FIREARM ON THE PREMISES OF A PRIVATELY OR PUBLICLY OWNED BUILDING BEING USED AS A POLLING SITE DURING AN ELECTION, INCLUDING IN A PARKING LOT.” This provision, along with the ban on possession within 100 feet of a polling site, creates literally dozens of new gun-free zones, including in privately owned buildings. Nothing in the bill would mandate or authorize armed security for such polling places. A violation of the bill is punished as a civil infraction under which a $5,000 fine may be assessed against the violator under MD Code, Election Law, § 13-604. That fine may be imposed even though the person commits a violation “without knowing that the act is illegal.” MD Code, Election Law, § 13-604(a). The bill thus imposes strict liability for otherwise innocent conduct without regard to the person’s knowledge of the law or intent. No mens rea is required.

The Senate amended the original bill with important changes in a new subsection “C” which provides an exemption where (I) THE INDIVIDUAL IS LEGALLY IN POSSESSION OF A FIREARM; (II) THE RESIDENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL IS WITHIN 100 FEET OF A PRIVATELY OR PUBLICLY OWNED BUILDING BEING USED AS A POLLING SITE DURING AN ELECTION; AND (III) THE INDIVIDUAL IS TRANSFERRING THE FIREARM TO THE INDIVIDUAL’S RESIDENCE OR VEHICLE WITHIN 100 FEET OF A POLLING PLACE. The bill is also amended, as enacted by the Senate to permit an off-duty police officer to carry a concealed weapon if that officer is displaying his badge.

The following concerns, however, remain applicable, even as SB10 was amended. First even amended, SB10 would make Maryland the most restrictive state, by far, of any state. See Most obviously the bill does not exempt possession of a firearm in a home that happens to fall within 100 feet of a polling station. No state imposes such a restriction.  The amendments allow possession by an otherwise lawful person only if the residence is within 100 feet of the polling station AND the person is transferring the firearm to or from the person’s residence or vehicle within 100 feet of the polling site.  This new exception is welcome, but it is poorly drafted.  By using the word “AND” the amendment requires all three elements of new Section (C)(1) to be present. And by using the operative verb “transferring,” the amendment only applies to transfers that take place to and from the residence (or vehicle)  – not possession in the residence. The amendment thus does not purport to address or exempt a person who is merely possessing the firearm inside the home or on private property that happens to be located within 100 feet of a polling site.

Thus, through poor draftsmanship, the bill remains fatally overbroad, even as amended. In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008), the Supreme Court held that citizens have the right to possess operative handguns for self-defense in the home. Heller also made clear that the right belongs to every “law-abiding, responsible citizen[]”). Heller 554 U.S. at 635. The Second Amendment “elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home.” Heller, 554 U.S. at 635. The rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment are fundamental and are, therefore, applicable to the States by incorporation under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. See McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 768 (2010) (“[c]itizens must be permitted to use handguns for the core lawful purpose of self-defense”). In banning home possession, the bill is plainly unconstitutional and thus must be amended to expressly exempt possession of firearms within homes located within 100 feet of a polling place. Poor draftsmanship is intolerable, particularly where it affects the exercise of fundamental constitutional rights. See, e.g, Briggs v. State, 413 Md. 265, 992 A.2d 433 (2010).

The amendment is likewise overbroad in that, while it protects “transferring” the firearm to or from the home or a vehicle, the bill, as amended would still ban mere possession by persons with Maryland carry permits or persons who are simply on the way to the range or otherwise permitted location or activity, as specified in Md. Code, Criminal Law, §4-203(b), and who just happen to drive by within 100 feet of a polling place. We respectfully suggest that the bill be amended to exempt from the bill’s coverage these types of concealed possessions, all of which are totally non-threatening and utterly innocent. Such an amendment would be consistent with the intent in allowing transfers to a vehicle from the residence.  If one may legally transfer the firearm to the vehicle within 100 feet of the polling site, one should likewise be permitted to drive the vehicle within 100 feet of the polling site on the way to or from the range or dealer or other lawful location.

Second, the point remains that the bill, as amended, still creates dozens of new gun free zones, including new zones on private property. In particular, the bill, even as amended, would ban a private property owner from merely storing firearms (any firearm) on his or her private property if that private property were to be used as a polling place. A mere innocent failure to remove existing firearms from that private property could result in a $5,000 civil penalty.  Ironically, that reality may well discourage individual private property owners from consenting to the use of their private property as a polling place.

More fundamentally, by banning virtually all otherwise lawful possession of firearms and failing to mandate armed security for such sites, this bill would actually make these sites more likely to be attacked by a mass shooter, a criminal or deranged individual, rather than less likely. Everyone at the site is less safe. Certainly, there is no evidence that a gun-free-zone actually makes people safer. See

A potential shooter, willing to commit murder, will simply not care that this bill would make his possession of a firearm illegal. The numbers are chilling: between 1950 and 2018, 94% of all mass shootings (as properly defined by the FBI) have taken place in gun free zones. Between 1998 and December 2015, the percentage is 96.2%. Mass shooters are drawn to gun free zones as they know that they will be unopposed for extended periods while they commit their horrific rampages. The Report from the Crime Prevention Research Center (Oct. 2014) (available at, indicates that “mass public shooters pay attention to whether people with guns will be present to defend themselves.” (Id. at 10). No sane person would post a gun-free zone sign outside their own home. If such signs are not suitable outside the home, they not suitable for polling places, particularly where the polling places are located on private property.

We can readily understand the desire to regulate the open display of firearms at a polling place. We therefore suggest that the bill be amended to specifically exempt from its coverage concealed carry not only by off-duty police officers (as newly permitted by the bill, as amended), but also by permit holders who are otherwise legally permitted to carry concealed firearms in public and who have been already thoroughly investigated and vetted by the Maryland State Police pursuant to MD Code, Public Safety, §5-306. Such permitted individuals have been issued permits for a “good and substantial reason” under Section 5-306, and thus include persons who have demonstrated to the Maryland State Police a particularized, special need for self-protection. In order to vote, such a permitted person would have to park her vehicle more than 100 feet from the polling place, leave her firearm in the vehicle (where it is open to theft) and walk to the polling place, vote, and walk back to the vehicle. Such an individual should not have to choose between exercising her right to vote and her right to self-defense. Private property owners should likewise be permitted to continue to store firearms on their own property when it is used as a polling place.

School property, if happened to be used as a polling place, would, of course, remain a prohibited area under existing law. See MD Code, Criminal Law, §4-102. Similarly, under federal law, 18 U.S.C. §922(q)(2), the knowing possession of a firearm in a federally defined school zone is banned. Tellingly, however, federal law exempts from that prohibition “private property” not part of school grounds as well as exempting a permit holder “if the individual possessing the firearm is licensed to do so by the State in which the school zone is located.” 18 U.S.C. §922(q)(2)(B)(i), (ii). If those exemptions are appropriate for school zones, they are likewise appropriate for polling places.


Mark W. Pennak

President, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.

Latest News

March Litigation Update and Other News

1. The Rapid Fire Trigger Activator case:  The Supreme Court case is MSI v. Hogan, No. 20-855 (US).  There, MSI and the individual plaintiffs have challenged as a Taking Maryland's ban on possession of previously lawfully owned and acquired "rapid fire trigger activators."  We lost that challenge in the Fourth Circuit in a split 2-1 decision, with a compelling and lengthy dissent by Judge Richardson. MSI v. Hogan, 963 F.3d 356 (4th 2020). We have thus filed a petition for certiorari with Supreme Court, asking the Court to review the Fourth Circuit's ruling.  MSI also filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in The Modern Sportsman, LLC v. United States, No. 20-1077 (Fed. Cir.), where a similar Takings issue is pending arising from the ATF's regulatory ban on bump stocks. That case was heard by the Federal Circuit at oral argument on December 8 and a decision is pending. The theory is simple:  If the government is going to ban the possession of lawfully acquired private property and thereby destroy all property rights in that property, then the State should pay for it. The State's Opposition to our petition for certiorari is due on March 29, after which we will file a reply brief. We may have a decision by the Court on whether to hear the case in late April or May. If the petition is granted, the case will be fully briefed over the summer with oral argument likely in the Fall. 

2. The HQL litigation:  MSI, along with individual plaintiffs and Atlantic Guns in Rockville, have challenged the constitutionality of the Handgun Qualification License requirement that was enacted as part of the so-called Firearms Safety Act of 2013. The district court initially dismissed the case on grounds that none of the plaintiffs had standing to sue and thus refused to reach the merits.  We appealed and, this last summer, that standing ruling was reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. MSI v. Hogan, 971 F.3d 199 (4th Cir. 2020). On remand, the parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment and motions to strike. Those proceedings and briefings are still in progress. After full briefing, the district court may hold a hearing and will render a decision in due course.  

3. The First Amendment suit:  MSI, along with the Hulbert brothers, filed suit in federal court challenging the arrests that took place in Annapolis in 2018 of the Hulberts, who were peacefully and lawfully demonstrating on a public sidewalk (a.k.a, a "public forum"). After all, the First Amendment protects the right to advocate in support of the Second Amendment. The arrests at issue in this case thus chill advocacy by MSI and by every MSI member. The federal district court has already denied the defendants' earlier attempt to dismiss the case. Hulbert v. Pope, 2019 WL 1409707 (D. Md. 2019). Although the case was delayed by the COVID 19 pandemic, the parties have completed extensive pre-trial discovery and, as expected, the defendants have recently moved for summary judgment. That motion has been fully briefed and is awaiting a decision by the federal judge.  When that motion fails (as it should), we intend to take this case to a jury and recover substantial damages and equitable relief. 
4. The Challenge to the "Good and Substantial Reason" case:  Last, but hardly least, MSI has joined with the Firearms Policy Coalition, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, the Second Amendment Foundation, and a number of individuals to challenge the constitutionality of Maryland's "good and substantial reason" requirement for the issuance of a wear and carry permit. The case name is Call v. Jones, No. 20-3304 (D. Maryland). The point of that suit is to challenge the Fourth Circuit's prior decision in Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865 (4th Cir. 2013) (in which the court sustained the requirement) by bringing this issue to the Supreme Court.  As expected, on March 19, the district court dismissed the complaint on the basis that Woollard was controllingThe plaintiffs will be filing a notice of appeal with the Fourth Circuit, which will likely summarily affirm on the basis of Woollard, just as it did in Malpasso v. Pallozzi, 767 Fed. Appx. 525 (4th Cir. 2019), where the same issue was raised by different parties. Once the Fourth Circuit acts on this appeal, a petition for certiorari with the Supreme Court will be appropriate. Stated simply, the Woollard decision is in direct conflict with the D.C. Circuit's later decision in Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650, 661 (D.C. Cir. 2017), where the court held that the Second Amendment protected “the individual right to carry common firearms beyond the home for self-defense—even in densely populated areas, even for those lacking special self-defense needs.” As a result of Wrenn, the District of Columbia is now a "shall issue" jurisdiction, just like 42 states. Sooner or later, that will likewise be the law in Maryland. Indeed, this very issue is presently before the Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari filed in NYSRPA v. Corlett, No. 20-843, docketed Dec. 23. 2020) (U.S.).  That petition will likely be considered by the Court at a Friday conference in April.  So stay tuned. If certiorari is denied in Corlett, we will be presenting the same issue in this case. The Second Amendment cannot mean one thing in 42 states (and in D.C.) and something else in Maryland!
License, Registration, and Permit Renewals
Recently, Governor Hogan issued new executive orders related to COVID-19 that undo the suspension of expiration dates for all licenses issued by the State. If your carry permit would have expired over the last year, you must now submit a renewal application for their permit by June 30th, 2021. To learn more, see the notice from the Maryland State Police HERE.
April MSI Membership Meeting
MSI will hold its next membership meeting online via Zoom on April 10th, 2021 at 1:30 pm. Links to join the meeting will be distributed to all active paid members only via email, so be sure that your current profile information on the MSI website is up to date. We will be giving updates on where the gun bills stand in the legislature, litigation updates, plans MSI has moving ahead, and much more.


Upcoming Events
If interested in volunteering, reach out to . Booth volunteers who do four shifts in a year get their MSI membership comped! They also may get into the show for free.

Baltimore County Game & Fish Gun Show
Saturday, 3 April - 8 AM to 5 PM

Baltimore County Game & Fish
3400 Northwind Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21234

MSI Membership Meeting
Saturday, April 10th at 1:30 pm

Online via Zoom

Frederick Gun Show
April 10th and 11th
Saturday - 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Frederick County Fairgrounds
797 E Patrick St
Frederick, MD 21701

AGC Range Day

AGC Range Day is Sunday, April 11 from 8 am - 12 pm, please come out to help get the range ready for the upcoming year. Volunteers are welcomed to stick around to enjoy shooting on the 100yd range with us from 1 pm - 4 pm and those who help do earn credit toward their badge fees with the AGC.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact Michael Burke at  for more details and let him know what time you will be able to stop by so he can provide our club volunteer info to AGC.


Timonium Gun Show
April 17 and 18th
Saturday - 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sunday - 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM

Timonium Fairgrounds
2200 York Rd
Timonium, MD 21093

Chantilly Gun Show
April 23rd, 24th, and 25th
Friday: 1:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Dulles Expo Center
4320 Chantilly Shopping Center
Chantilly, VA 20153

MSI Goes to the Supreme Court

    On December 21st, 2020, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc., filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari before the Supreme Court of United States in Maryland Shall Issue, Inc et al. v Hogan. Read the petition HERE.

Update 12/29/2020: The Supreme Court has docketed the case.

Read more ...

Contact Info


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

Phone:  410-849-9197