Mark your calendars! A number of bills we strongly oppose, SB 1, SB 86, and SB 113 are being scheduled to be heard at 1pm on February 7th in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Testimony signup must be done on February 6th from 8am to 3pm.
After barely thirty minutes into its hearing and faced with a packed room of members of the public ready to testify long into the night, the Charles County Commissioners moved to have its carry ban, Bill 2022-14 withdrawn. Your feedback, advocacy, testimony, and opposition paid off. Hats off to everyone who worked in support of the right to keep and bear arms! This is precisely the type of civic engagement that can affect change for the better. Well done!
The Maryland General Assembly Begins its 2023 Legislative Session
At noon yesterday (1/11), just six hours before the Charles County hearing was set to take place, the Maryland General Assembly began its 90-day legislative session. Already, there are a number of bills that threaten to make carry permits meaningless throughout the State. These bills are a response to the landmark US Supreme Court ruling last summer in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Senator Waldstreicher and outgoing Senator Lee (who’s been selected to be our next Secretary of State by Governor-elect Moore) have introduced two bills that broadly criminalize carrying firearms in public. One of them, SB 118 was mentioned specifically in Bill 2022-14’s hearing. That bill would provide that a person “may not knowingly wear, carry, or transport a firearm on private property owned by another” without express permission, or carry at all “on property controlled by the federal government, the state government, or a local government.” Apparently, these senators think they have the power to legislate on behalf of Congress for federal property. The same senators have also proposed SB 1, which provides that ”a person may not wear, carry or transport a firearm onto the real property of another” unless given express permission. For good measure, it also flatly bans such possession “within 100 feet of a place of accommodation.” A “place of public accommodation” is defined by reference to MD Code, State Government, § 20-301, which defines the term to include any retail establishment, such as an inn, motel or hotel, restaurant or theater and other places that “offers goods, services, entertainment, recreation, or transportation.” These bills effectively eviscerate a permit holder’s right to carry in public for self-defense.
On January 11th, 2023 in a session that begins at 6:00 pm, the Charles County Commissioners will hear public testimony on Bill 2022-14, which among other things, would ban the possession of firearms within 100 yards of “a building owned or operated by Charles County government or the Board of Charles County,” even for carry permit holders.
This tracker follows legislation and lawmakers in the Maryland General Assembly. It serves as an easily searchable gun and self-defense-related bill database for supporters of the right to keep and bear arms.
Share this tracker anywhere! tinyurl.com/mdgunbills Key: Red ❌= Oppose Green ✅= Support Light Green ✅= Support with Amendment Blue ℹ️= Informational Testimony Only (provides knowledge for the committee on the bill without taking a position) Gray = Position Pending or None Taken
On Monday night, the Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die having passed the worst attacks on gun owners and the 2nd Amendment since 2013. In our previous dispatch, MSI asked Governor Hogan to veto SB387/HB425, the so-called "ghost gun" bills, HB 1021, the so-called dealer security bills. Yet, the Governor decided to let SB387/HB425 become law without his signature. The Governor did veto HB1021, a bill that places expensive and onerous burdens upon firearms dealers across the state, but his veto was quickly overridden along party lines.
The only other gun-related bill to be passed by the legislature was SB861, a bill that requires the State Police to track all crimes committed with firearms across the state. That bill passed the Senate with provisions that would have criminalized the theft of handguns and incurred other penalties for violent and unlawful usage of firearms. The House stripped the bill of these provisions and the Senate accepted those changes. However, there was some good news for hunters as the General Assembly did move a handful of Sunday hunting bills for a few counties before adjournment. All of the bills and votes on them can be found in our tracker at tinyurl.com/guntracker.
Earlier this week, MSI sent a letter to Governor Larry Hogan urging his veto of SB387/HB425, the bills that criminalize the possession of unserialized firearms, and HB1021, a bill that puts onerous and expensive burdens upon all State-licensed firearms dealers. On Friday (04/08), the Governor issued a statement saying that he will let the so-called "ghost gun" bills become law without his signature. He calls the legislation "a positive step," but said the General Assembly needs to do more to address violent crime.
Last night (3/16/22) in a late session, the Senate passed the ban on the possession of unserialized firearms, SB387, by a margin of 35-11. The yeas and nays do not tell the whole tale, however, as the Senate's version of this bill differs substantially from the House's passed-as-introduced HB425. The Judicial Proceedings Committee amended SB387 over the course of the last week and Senators Hough, Bailey, West, and Cassilly pushed hard for the changes that were made to the bill in order to lessen the harm to the countless Marylanders who will be affected by its enactment. As passed by the Senate, SB387 can be summed up this way:
The bill extends the period to get any currently possessed unserialized guns into compliance to 3/1/23. Any unserialized gun manufactured after Oct. 22, 1968, must be inscribed by an FFL and registered by then in order to be possessed. Otherwise, they must be dispossessed or removed from the state by this date;
SB387's definition of an unfinished frame or receiver is entirely reliant on the pending rule published by the ATF in regards to the definition of a firearm;
Any affected gun must be inscribed by an FFL with either the system of marking imposed by the ATF in its rule OR by the system of marking otherwise imposed by this bill;
The bill, as amended, does not require the FFL to keep records concerning the serialization. In contrast, the ATF proposed Rule does impose that recordkeeping requirement;
Prospective gun-making can happen, but only for unfinished frames or receivers "made" by the owner. Such an item must be inscribed in accordance with bill and be registered with Maryland State Police;
The amended bill adds a mens rea requirement, but it is highly limited. If the person knew or should have known that the gun (or unfinished frame or receiver) was unserialized, then a person may be convicted of the possession offense after March 1, 2023. The original version of the bill lacked any mens rea requirement entirely;
The amended bill no longer includes within its definition of an unfinished frame or receiver items that are merely "sold or marketed" as being a receiver. This change allows possession of an item, like a block of aluminum, that has not yet achieved a state of manufacture that it could be considered to be "readily" convertible into a frame or receiver. Again, the bill relies on the ATF rule to define what is "readily" convertible. That definition in the ATF proposed rule relies on an ad hoc application of multiple factors and thus is quite vague.
Persons convicted of illegal possession under the bill face 2-years imprisonment rather than three. Such a conviction would not render a person "probibited" under state and federal law, thereby allowing such a person to legally retain possession of existing firearms;
Sellers or distributors of unfinished frames or receivers or unserialized firearms face up to 5 years imprisonment (a prohibitive offense);
Any gun serialized under this bill must be registered with the Maryland State Police via the existing voluntary registration system already in place. Such registration will allow the State Police to conduct a background check on the owner;
So what happens now? Nothing has been sent to the Governor's desk yet, so there's still work for the chambers to do if they want the bills passed. SB387 will be sent over to the House Judiciary Committee which must decide how to proceed. They (and the House) passed HB425 without any amendments whatsoever. Likewise, HB425 will be sent to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where it is likely to be amended to reflect the changes made to SB387. Either the House or the Senate can accede to the bill passed by the other body. If neither accedes, then the Senate and the House will have to hold a conference to iron out the differences. If those differences cannot be reconciled and neither body accedes to the other, then the legislation dies. To be sent to Governor Hogan, any bill must pass both the House and Senate with identical language.
MSI remains strongly opposed to SB387/HB425, as the bills still impose stringent requirements upon gun owners at their expense, leave innocent people at risk for arrest and prosecution, and criminalizes conduct that's always been lawful in Maryland and the United States. Those who've made firearms—whether from kits or fabricated entirely on their own—should not be paying for the bad acts of those who have no respect for the law or lives of others. The criminals in the State will not comply with this law any more than they comply with existing laws.
Nonetheless, the reality is that the General Assembly could have passed these bills as introduced, but the Senate decided to at least try to mitigate the harms. SB387, as passed by the Senate, is confusing and difficult to navigate. That confusion is compounded by the uncertainty associated with the ATF rule, as it has yet to be issued in final form (June is the expected date for issuance, but it could be at any time between now and then). We expect that there will be dealers who do not offer engraving services for one reason or another. There will be people who move from this State because of this bill. There will be those who manage to get their homemade guns engraved and those who fail to do so simply because they never learned about the new law. MSI shares the passion for homemade firearms and believes that such firearms are central to protecting the right to keep and bear arms. We will strive to assist our members with understanding any bill that is enacted into law.
We'll have more as the General Assembly enters its final three weeks of the Session. Sine Die is April 11, 2022. Don't forget that you can use mdelect.net to reach out to your state representatives about these bills and all the others affecting Maryland gun owners.
NOTE: This bill has been amended before its hearing to make it a tax incentive for individuals up to $500 towards the purchase of firearms storage devices. MSI welcomes this change and supports Senator Carter's amendment and now, the bill.
*The testimony that follows reflects the bill as introduced when MSI opposed it. SB773 longer reflects this language.*
The bill would create a new Section 5-110.1 in the Public Safety Article of the Maryland Code that would impose new vault storage requirements on all Maryland licensed dealers. Specifically, the bill states:
(A) BEFORE THE SECRETARY ISSUES A DEALER’S LICENSE TO AN APPLICANT, THE APPLICANT SHALL PROVIDE EVIDENCE SATISFACTORY TO THE SECRETARY THAT THE APPLICANT’S PROPOSED PLACE OF BUSINESS HAS A VAULT THAT IS SECURED TO THE FLOOR AND THAT CAN HOLD ALL OF THE REGULATED FIREARMS TO BE OFFERED FOR SALE.
(B) (1) EXCEPT AS PROVIDED IN PARAGRAPH (2) OF THIS SUBSECTION, WHEN A LICENSEE’S PLACE OF BUSINESS IS CLOSED, THE LICENSEE SHALL STORE ALL REGULATED FIREARMS FOR SALE IN A VAULT DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (A) OF THIS SECTION.
(2) A PERSON WHO HOLDS A DEALER’S LICENSE ON OR BEFORE OCTOBER 1, 2022, SHALL COMPLY WITH THIS SUBSECTION ON OR BEFORE JULY 1, 2023.
The bill also provides:
THE SECRETARY MAY DENY A DEALER’S LICENSE TO AN APPLICANT OR SUSPEND OR REVOKE A DEALER’S LICENSE IF THE APPLICANT OR LICENSEE FAILS TO COMPLY WITH § 5–110.1 OF THIS SUBTITLE.
The Bill Will Likely Put Many Dealers Out of Business
Firearms dealers are already among the most heavily regulated businesses in the United States. This State imposes very strict regulation of regulated firearms dealers, requiring that these dealers obtain a state-issued firearms license and submit to inspections on a regular basis by the Maryland State Police. See, e.g., MD Code Public Safety §5-110, §5-114, §5-115, §5-145. Additional regulatory burdens on dealers were imposed with the enactment of SB 281, the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, including amending MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-145 to impose additional record keeping requirements. In addition to state regulation, all these dealers are also federal licensees and are thus heavily regulated by the ATF, a component of the U.S. Department of Justice. The ATF likewise imposes substantial requirements concerning business operations of FFLs. See 18 U.S.C. § 923; 27 C.F.R. Part 478.
Friday (3/11) saw a lot of movement on the two bills that effectively prohibit privately making one's own firearms. HB425 was brought to the House floor on Thursday in a lengthy debate that saw all attempts at amending the bill fail and the bill progressed with the same language as introduced. Today, HB425 passed the House 94-41. Hats off to Delegates Saab, Mautz, Shoemaker, Hartman, Pippy, Mangione, and Buckel for their vocal opposition and attempted amendments to the bill. Be sure to thank all the red votes in the below picture from the roll.
On Wednesday, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a voting session on the cross file, SB387. They amended the bill substantially from its introduced form. Those amendments were brought to the floor today and the bill was ordered to Third Reading without any discussion or other amendments offered. We expect it to pass. We wish to express our appreciation for the efforts of Senators Hough, Bailey, West, and Cassilly, who pushed hard for amendments in Committee. Those amendments fixed some of the worst aspects of the bill and, importantly, mean that SB387 is different than HB425, which was passed "clean" by the House. As a result, there must be reconciliation (or one House to yield) before a bill can be sent to the Governor's desk. A lot can still happen. Sine Die is fast approaching, with this Legislative Session having just 30 days remaining.
The Senate Judicial Committee is scheduled to consider SB387 Public Safety - Untraceable Firearms in a voting session starting at 4pm today (3/9/2021). We have a thorough analysis of the bill in our written testimony HERE. Briefly, existing owners have until the end of the year to have a federally licensed manufacturer (Type 07 FFL) inscribe any unserialized firearm that a person may possess. The same requirement applies to any unfinished frames or receivers one might have. No manufacturer is required to provide this service and manufacturers are free to charge any amount if they do. Failure to comply is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 per gun (or receiver). Conviction of this "crime" is a lifetime disqualifier from ever possessing modern firearms or ammunition. MSI strongly opposes this legislation.
Contact the members of the committee directly to respectfully make your concerns with the bill known and to urge them for an unfavorable report. Their email addresses are below to copy and paste into your preferred email client. Be sure to have SB387 in your subject line.
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The committee session will be viewable HERE at or shortly after 4pm.
For a primer on the legislative process, be sure to read our guide HERE.
The Bill: House Bill 1206 would amend MD Code, Criminal Law, §4-101 and MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-203. Section 4-101 addresses concealed and open carry of “dangerous weapons” which are defined by Section 4-101(a)(5) to include “a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku,” but to exclude “handguns.” Under current law, Section 4-101(b)(3) exempts a person with a wear and carry permit issued by the State Police under MD Code Public Safety, 5-306, from the prohibitions set forth in Section 4-101. Permit holders are exempted from Section 4-203 under Section 4-203(b)(2).
The bill would first amend Section 4-101 to delete the exemption for wear and carry permit holders, thereby subjecting the prohibitions of Section 4-101 on permit holders. The bill would then amend Section 4-203(a) to sharply limit the current broad ban on wear and carry of a handgun on or about the person to a defined set of persons and circumstances, viz., persons under the age of 21 while in a vehicle, persons under the age of 21 with a loaded handgun, on school property, or wear or carry a handgun with the intent of hurting someone. The bill would also amend Section 4-203(b) by deleting, with two exceptions, the remaining exceptions to the broad ban on wear and carry of a handgun under Section 4-203(a), including the exemption for wear and carry permit holders. The bill would retain the exception permitting a person to wear, carry or transport a handgun for use in “an organized military activity, a formal or informal target practice, sport shoot event, hunting, a Department of Natural Resources-sponsored firearms and hunter safety class, trapping or dog obedience training class or show.” The bill would likewise retain the exception in current law for the “carrying or transporting of a signal pistol” on the waterways of the State.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for greatly enhanced penalties for the theft of a firearm. Under current law, theft of a firearm is treated just like the theft of any other piece of personal property. For example, under MD Code Criminal Law § 7-104(g)(2), “a person convicted of theft of property or services with a value of at least $100 but less than $1,500, is guilty of a misdemeanor and: (i) is subject to: 1. for a first conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding $500 or both; and 2. for a second or subsequent conviction, imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $500 or both. The bill would change these penalties for theft of a firearm to a felony and would impose, on the first offense, a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years and/or a fine of $1,000. Subsequent offenses are punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years and/or a fine not exceeding $2,500. These punishments are similar to the provisions moved in 2020 by the Senate in SB 35 which likewise made theft of a firearm a felony and punished such theft with imprisonment for up to 5 years and a fine of $10,000. SB 35 further required the thief to restore the firearm to the owner or pay the owner the value of the firearm.
The Bill: House Bill 482 adds a new subtitle 7 to the Public Safety Article relating to persons who are authorized to use medical cannabis under title 13, subtitle 33 of the Health – General Article of Maryland law. The bill provides that a State Agency may not access a State database relating to medical marijuana patients for the purpose of approving or disapproving such person’s application for a wear and carry permit, or for other purposes relating to the purchase, ownership, possession or carrying of a firearm. More generally, the bill provides that “IT IS THE INTENT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY THAT MEDICAL CANNABIS SHOULD BE TREATED AS LEGAL FOR PURPOSES OF STATE LAW AND THAT THE STATE SHOULD NOT PENALIZE A QUALIFYING PATIENT FOR USING THE DRUG LEGALLY. Like similar bills in the past, MSI takes no position with respect to the merits of these bills. However, as before, we do wish to point out some legal realities for purposes of informing the debate on these bills. A similar bill, SB 286, recently and unanimously passed the Senate. MSI likewise provided “information only” testimony on SB 286, making clear that the legal issues, identified below, also fully apply to SB 286.
Legal Issues: With the recent changes in Maryland law concerning medical marijuana, see MD Code, Health - General, § 13-3304 et seq., and the push to legalize the use of marijuana in Maryland, a recurring issue is how such marijuana use would affect Second Amendment rights. The short answer is that such use effectively abrogates those rights by (1) barring a Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL”) from selling a firearm to such a user and (2), by making such a user a prohibited person under federal law.
The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider HB425 Public Safety - Untraceable Firearms in a voting session starting at 1:30pm today (3/4/2021). We have a thorough analysis of the bill in our written testimony HERE. Briefly, existing owners have until the end of the year to have a federally licensed manufacturer (Type 07 FFL) inscribe any unserialized firearm that a person may possess. The same requirement applies to any unfinished frames or receivers one might have. No manufacturer is required to provide this service and manufacturers are free to charge any amount if they do. Failure to comply is punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000 per gun (or receiver). Conviction of this "crime" is a lifetime disqualifier from ever possessing modern firearms or ammunition.
Contact the members of the committee directly to respectfully make your concerns with the bill known and to urge them for an unfavorable report. Their email addresses are below to copy and paste into your preferred email client. Be sure to have HB425 in your subject line.
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The committee session will be viewable HERE at or shortly after 1:30pm.
For a primer on the legislative process, be sure to read our guide HERE.
The Bill: This bill would amend MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-304. That Section sets out fees charged by the State of Maryland in connection with an application for a wear and carry permit issued by the Maryland State Police for the wear, carry or transport of a handgun under MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-306. Those fees are “(i) $75 for an initial application; (ii) $50 for a renewal or subsequent application; and
(iii) $10 for a duplicate or modified permit”. See Section 5-304(b)(2). Subsection 5-304(d) provides that the Secretary of the State Police may not charge a fee otherwise imposed by Section 5-304 for “a State, county, or municipal public safety employee” who is required to carry a firearm as a condition of employment, or to a “retired law enforcement officer of the State or a county or municipal corporation of the State.”
The bill would add to that list A DISABLED PERSON, and would thus prohibit the Secretary from charging fees to a disabled person. For the sake of clarity, the bill also amends MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-301 to define a “disabled person” for these purposes, providing that a disabled person is a person who (1) HAS BEEN CERTIFIED AS DISABLED BY A UNIT OF THE STATE OR THE UNITED STATES THAT CLASSIFIES DISABLED INDIVIDUALS; AND (2) IS A RESIDENT OF THE STATE. The bill makes no modification to the requirements for a permit otherwise imposed by Section 5-306.
Discussion: This bill makes sense. People with disabilities are often uniquely susceptible to physical attack precisely because their disability may hinder or impede their ability to defend themselves. See https://bit.ly/3BVcvEI. As such, the State Police recognize that such individuals may well qualify for a wear and carry permit. Yet, such disabilities may also contribute to financial hardship. Persons should not be forced to choose between their need for self-defense and their ability to otherwise provide for themselves. The amounts involved are relatively small but may well be significant to a person with disabilities. Nothing in this bill would amend or change the rigorous training requirements otherwise imposed by Section 5-306(a)(5), including the requirement that the applicant demonstrate, through a scored course of live fire, “proficiency and use of the firearm.” See Section 306-5(a)(5)(ii). Nothing in the bill would change the requirement, imposed by Section 5-306(b)6), that the applicant demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the State Police, a “good and substantial reason” for the issuance of a carry permit. The only thing that would change is that the person with State-recognized disabilities would be spared the $75 initial application fee, the $50 renewal fee, and the $10 fee for a modified permit. That is a small price for the State to pay to assist such persons.
We urge a favorable report.
Mark W. Pennak President, Maryland Shall Issue, Inc.
Currently, the Maryland General Assembly is considering bills that would change State law on Maryland Wear and Carry permits. SB 1 passed the Maryland Senate by wide margin on March 13th and has been sent to the House for consideration. The House has also passed HB 824, which would double current permit fees, and affect background investigations and impose new disqualifiers on the possession of regulated firearms. However, both bills could change before becoming law. Below, is a guide on what SB 1 would do, in its current form, should it become law. This would be in addition to the places already off limits as covered in our State and Local weapons laws guide.
Maryland Shall Issue®, Inc. 9613 Harford Rd
Ste C #1015 Baltimore, MD 21234-2150