MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Opposition to SB624/HB638 - Untraceable and Undetectable Firearms

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SB624
HB638

The Bills

Covert guns: The bill would ban “COVERT FIREARMS,” which are defined as A FIREARM THAT IS CONSTRUCTED IN A SHAPE OR CONFIGURATION THAT A REASONABLE PERSON WOULD NOT IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZE TO BE A FIREARM.” The bill would also ban “UNDETECTABLE FIREARMS,” which is defined by reference to an undefined “security exemplar,” or by reference to those firearms which cannot be detected by an x-ray machine “COMMONLY USED AT AIRPORTS.”

Serial numbers: Next, the bill would enact a whole regulatory system for regulating a “unfinished frame or receiver” which the bill defines as “A PRODUCT THAT IS INTENDED OR DESIGNED TO SERVE AS THE FRAME OR RECEIVER, INCLUDING THE LOWER RECEIVER, OF A FIREARM, BUT IS IN AN UNFINISHED STATE OF MANUFACTURE,” including a “BLANK CASTING, OR MACHINED BODY THAT REQUIRES MODIFICATION, SUCH AS MACHINING, DRILLING, FILING, OR MOLDING, TO BE USED AS PART OF A FUNCTIONAL FIREARM.” The bill provides that after January 1, 2022, a person “MAY NOT POSSESS A FIREARM OR AN UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER THAT HAS NOT BEEN MARKED” in accordance with the standards specified in the bill. The bill would further provide that, on or after January 1, 2022:

(1) A FIREARM OR AN UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER SHALL BE MARKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTIONS (A) AND (B) OF THIS SECTION BY A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS MANUFACTURER BEFORE THE FIREARM OR UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER IS SOLD, OFFERED FOR SALE, OR TRANSFERRED IN THE STATE;

(2) A FIREARM OR UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER SHALL BE MARKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTIONS (A) AND (B) OF THIS SECTION BY A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS IMPORTER BEFORE THE FIREARM OR UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER IS IMPORTED OR OTHERWISE BROUGHT INTO THE STATE;

(3) A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS DEALER MAY NOT SELL, OFFER TO SELL, OR TRANSFER A FIREARM OR AN UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER THAT HAS NOT BEEN MARKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SUBSECTIONS (A) AND (B) OF THIS SECTION;

(4) A FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS DEALER, FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS MANUFACTURER, AND FEDERALLY LICENSED FIREARMS IMPORTER SHALL MAINTAIN A RECORD LOG OF ANY SALE OR TRANSFER OF A FIREARM OR AN UNFINISHED FRAME OR RECEIVER AS REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW AND REGULATION.

A. Homemade Guns Are Rarely Used In Crime And Existing Owners Are Law-Abiding Hobbyists, Not Criminals

These new provisions, if enacted, would burden and penalize a harmless activity that has been perfectly legal under federal and state law for the entire history of the United States, viz., the manufacture of homemade guns for personal use. Under Federal law, a person may legally manufacture a firearm for his own personal use. See 18 U.S.C. § 922(a). However, “it is illegal to transfer such weapons in any way.” Defense Distributed v. United States, 838 F.3d 451, 454 (5th Cir. 2016). This manufacture “involves starting with an ‘80% lower receiver,’ which is simply an unfinished piece of metal that looks quite a bit like a lower receiver but is not legally considered one and may therefore be bought and sold freely. It requires additional milling and other work to turn into a functional lower receiver.” (Id).

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Background Check Bill Veto Overridden

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Yesterday, the House narrowly voted to override Governor Hogan's veto of 2020's SB208, which criminalizes the private sale and transfer of long guns. 85 votes were needed to override and 88 unwisely chose to do so. Now that SB208 has been overridden in both chambers, the bill will go into effect in 30 days (on March 13, 2021). Why? Article II, Section 17 (d) of the Maryland Constitution states:
  • Any Bill vetoed by the Governor shall be returned to the House in which it originated immediately after the House has organized at the next regular or special session of the General Assembly. The Bill may then be reconsidered according to the procedure specified in this section. Any Bill enacted over the veto of the Governor, or any Bill which shall become law as the result of the failure of the Governor to act within the time specified, shall take effect 30 days after the Governor's veto is over-ridden, or on the date specified in the Bill, whichever is later.
Starting on March 13th, 2021, private sales and permanent transfers between residents of long guns will need to be facilitated by an FFL at your cost. To be clear, this bill does not require licensing or involve the Maryland State Police. You can thank our prior advocacy for that. Rather, it makes it a criminal act to permanently transfer ownership of a long gun to another unless a NICS check is performed by an FFL. The new law DOES NOT APPLY to transfers in ANY of these circumstances:
  • Between "immediate family members" (defined as a spouse, a parent, a stepparent, a grandparent, a stepgrandparent, an aunt, an uncle, a sibling, a stepsibling, a child, a stepchild, a grandchild, a stepgrandchild, a niece, or a nephew, as related by blood or marriage)
  • Involving law enforcement and military acting within the scope of their official duties
  • Between licensed collectors of Curio and Relics
  • Of an unserviceable long gun sold, rented, or transferred as a curio or museum piece
  • Between those with demonstrable religious beliefs against having photographs taken of them and who does not possess a license or an identification card of any kind with photographic identification
  • A transfer that occurs by operation of law on the death of a person for whom the transferee is an executor, an administrator, a trustee, or a personal representative of an estate or a trust created in a will
  • A temporary gratuitous loan of a rifle or shotgun (unless the transferor has reasonable cause to believe that the transferee is a prohibited person).
Join MSI in thanking every lawmaker who voted to sustain Governor Hogan's veto (and to him for his veto!). Special thanks go to Senators Hough, Ready, Cassilly, Carozza, and Simonaire, and Delegates Hornberger, Beitzel, Arikan, Cox, Shoemaker, Ghrist, Mautz, and Buckel for all eloquently speaking in support of Marylanders rights. All of the votes are recorded in our tracker HERE.  We encourage everyone to communicate (civilly) with their representatives on how they feel about the representative's vote. 

Advocacy isn't limited to the 90 days our legislature meets. It is a constant effort and those who do not understand gun ownership or the rights of others do not sleep. Educate your lawmakers. Educate your friends. Advocacy does make a difference.  Don't be a free rider!

The General Assembly is still in session! You can keep track of all the gun bills at tinyurl.com/guntracker.

MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Opposition to SB479/HB200

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SB479
HB200

The Bills:

These bills would amend MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-104. Specifically, current law provides that “[a] person may not store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to the firearm.” A child is defined for these purposes as a person “under the age of 16 years.” This bill would change the definition of a child to a person under the age of 18 years and modifies the prohibition to provide that a “person may not store or leave a loaded OR UNLOADED firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child COULD gain access to the firearm.” The bill will likewise repeal the exception in existing law that allows a child to have access to firearms if the child has a certificate of firearm and hunter safety issued under § 16 10–301.1 of the Natural Resources Article. Instead, for minors under the age of 18 and who have the hunter safety certificate, the bill allows access to a rifle or a shotgun if the minor has been given express permission by a parent. That access is permitted, however, only if the person who stores or leaves the firearm stores the firearm unloaded and stores the ammunition “in a secure location where a minor could not reasonably gain access to the ammunition.” Finally, the bill provides an exception if “THE FIREARM IS LEFT OR STORED UNLOADED AND HAS BEEN RENDERED INOPERABLE TO ANYONE OTHER THAN AN ADULT.” The bill does not define “access” or “could” or “inoperable.”

The bills also change the punishment for a violation of Section 4-104. Current law punishes a violation as “a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000.” No prison time is imposed under current law. The bills would create three new layers of offense with increasing punishments, including prison time for each layer. Merely leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” is punishable with 90 days imprisonment and a $1,000 fine. At the next level, leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” and the minor actually gains access is punishable with 2 years of imprisonment and a fine of $2,500. And, at the final level, leaving a LOADED or UNLOADED firearm in a “location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised MINOR COULD gain access to the firearm,” and “THE FIREARM CAUSES HARM TO THE MINOR OR TO ANOTHER PERSON” is punishable with 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000.

THE BILL IS DRACONIAN, IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLY WITH AND PATENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Youth Hunting:

As noted, the bills repeal the exception found in current law for a child with a State-issued hunter safety certificate and substitutes an extremely awkward language. Specifically, the bill imposes an ammunition access restriction on the person (including the minor) who leaves or stores the rifle or shotgun, requiring that such person store the ammunition in such a way that “MINOR COULD NOT REASONABLY GAIN ACCESS TO THE AMMUNITION.” Under this provision, a minor is allowed access to a rifle or shotgun for legitimate purposes (such as hunting) with parental consent, but is not allowed access to the ammunition for that firearm. The bill thus allows the minor (as a “person”) to store the firearm, as long as the firearm is unloaded. Yet, the minor is criminally liable if he or she fails to store the ammunition in the “secure location” where he or she “could not” gain access. That result is little short of bizarre. The bill expressly exempts from its coverage a minor’s access to a rifle and shotgun if he or she has a hunter safety certificate and has permission. Yet, that same minor must then store ammunition in a way to make it inaccessible to himself or herself! Plainly, if a particular minor with a hunter safety certificate is permitted access to the firearm for legitimate purposes, then that minor should likewise be allowed to access the ammunition for the very firearms he or she is allowed to access. After all, a rifle or shotgun is useless for legitimate purposes (e.g., hunting or varmint control) without ammunition. Yet, that access to ammunition is not allowed by this bill. The bill thus imposes nonsense restrictions on ammunition.

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Testify Against SB479

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Your voices are needed in opposition against the two most dangerous gun bills introduced in Maryland since the Firearms Safety Act of 2013. SB479 and HB200 mandate storage requirements that would effectively make each and every gun-owning Marylander a criminal and vulnerable to discriminatory enforcement.

Read SB479 at: https://bit.ly/3aXqsoH  We will be posting our testimony on February 8, 2021. You can read that testimony at the MSI bill tracker at https://tinyurl.com/guntracker.  

Submit Written Testimony and Signup in Opposition (Unfavorable) on Tuesday 2/9 between 8am and 3pm with your MyMGA Account. Find more information at the links at the top of this message.

SB479 and HB 200 would change the definition of a child to mean a person under the age of 18 years and modifies the prohibition to provide that a “person may not store or leave a loaded OR UNLOADED firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child COULD gain access to the firearm.” Under this provision, it simply does not matter if the firearm was locked up. All that matters is whether a person under the age of 18 "could" gain access. It doesn't matter whether a child is part of your family or even whether children are never in your house. In the dictionary, "could" is defined as something that is merely "possible." Thus, in other words, if it is "possible" that a 17-year-old, any 17-year-old, anywhere, "could" gain access to your gun safe, you are then a criminal. The gun owner is charged literally knowing all things possible with respect to access by a 17-year-old. The possibilities for discriminatory and arbitrary enforcement are endless. The first offense is punishable by 90-days in prison and/or a $1,000 fine. The second offense is punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. And any subsequent offense is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, and is thus a life-time disqualifying crime under State and Federal law.

The bills will likewise repeal the exception in existing law that allows a child to have access to firearms if the child has a certificate of firearm and hunter safety issued by the State. Instead, for minors under the age of 18 and who have the hunter safety certificate, the bills allow access to a rifle or a shotgun if the minor has been given express permission by a parent. That access is permitted, however, only if the person who stores or leaves the firearm stores the firearm unloaded and stores the ammunition “in a secure location where a minor could not reasonably gain access to the ammunition.” In short, a minor with a hunter safety certification may have access to a rifle or shotgun with permission but still is denied access to the ammunition. It is hard to hunt without ammunition. Finally, the bills provide an exception if “THE FIREARM IS LEFT OR STORED UNLOADED AND HAS BEEN RENDERED INOPERABLE TO ANYONE OTHER THAN AN ADULT.”  It is difficult if not impossible to think of a firearm that could be rendered "inoperable" to a 17-year-old, but is still "operable" to an 18-year-old. In short, there is no safe harbor in this bill.  We all become criminals the day this bill if enacted, goes into effect. 

Your voices and opinions are needed if we are to stop or affect these bills! Pass this along to any gun owners you know.  Signup to testify and submit WRITTEN TESTIMONY against SB479 this Tuesday (Feb. 9) between 8am and 3pm. You CANNOT signup earlier or later than these times and you MUST have a MyMGA account in order to do so. There is no guarantee that you will be able to verbally testify so your written testimony will be more important than ever. Written testimony must include your name, address, contact info and state your position (Unfavorable of course for SB479).

THIS DOES NOT REPLACE TESTIMONY, but you can ask the Judicial Proceedings committee for an unfavorable report with the info HERE.

The crossfiled bill, HB200 is not being heard until March 1st in the Judiciary Committee, but the signup window for testimony for that bill will open up on 2/26 at 8am to 3pm. Your testimony against that bill is just as important.

MSI will not let any legislation that harms gun owners go unchallenged, but we cannot fight these bills alone. Don't be a free rider! Join or Donate to MSI. 

MEANWHILE, last year's SB208 (HB4) is scheduled for a veto override this Tuesday the 9th. Find your elected officials HERE (mdelect.net) and urge them to SUSTAIN Governor Hogan's veto. If this bill does become law, the private sale and transfer of long guns will be made criminal for the first time in Maryland's long history. Any such transfers would need to be facilitated by an FFL at your cost. You can read our testimony from last year against this bill HERE.

The General Assembly is still in session for more than 60 days. You can keep track of all the gun bills at tinyurl.com/guntracker.


MSI Bill Tracker - 2021 Maryland General Assembly

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/guntracker
Key:
Red ❌= Oppose
Green ✅= Support
Light Green ✅= Support with amendment
Blue ℹ️= Informational Testimony Only (no position for or against the bill).

The 2021 Legislative Session of the General Assembly has concluded.
Find our recap of the session HERE



Find your representatives HERE

Committee Contacts can be found HERE

NEW FOR 2021 - HOW TO TESTIFY
To Sign-up to testify, you MUST make a MyMGA Account!
DO SO HERE

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Support of SB27 and HB845 - Public Safety - Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport a Handgun - Qualifications

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SB27
HB845

This bill would amend MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-306(b)(6)(ii) to specify that “self-protection,” or “self-defense” is a basis for finding a “good and substantial” reason for the issuance of a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit. The bills leave unaltered the rest of Section 5-306, including leaving unchanged the rigorous training requirements of 16 hours of instruction that includes a live fire component that “demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm.” Also unchanged is the requirement that the State Police conduct a background investigation using the applicant’s fingerprints, and the requirement that the State Police find that the applicant “has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another,” found at § 5-306(b)(6)(ii).

Stated briefly, there are powerful reasons to enact this bill into law. Section 5-306, as administered by the State Police, is unconstitutional without these amendments. The Maryland requirement of a “good and substantial reason” is on borrowed time in the courts, including in a pending case challenging Maryland’s law. Should Maryland lose in such litigation, the attorneys’ fees award against Maryland under 42 U.S.C. §1988, will prove quite expensive. Moreover, as John Hopkins University’s most recent study (attached) documents, illegal carry by otherwise law-abiding citizens for self-defense is very common in Baltimore. These individuals should be accorded an opportunity to carry legally, so as to obtain the training and legal instruction presently mandated by Maryland law. The amendments to Maryland’s law in this bill would make that possible. As explained below, the status quo in Baltimore is utterly untenable.

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Partial Opposition to HB450 and SB10 - Election Law – Polling Sites – Firearms Prohibitions

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❌ HB450
❌ SB10

This bill would amend MD Code, Election Law, §16-904, to provide that that a person may not “CARRY OR POSSESS A FIREARM WITHIN 100 FEET OF A POLLING SITE DURING AN ELECTION.” That provision does not require a “knowing” possession and would appear to ban mere possession (including mere constructive possession) of a firearm in a person’s own home if the home happens to fall within 100 feet of a polling site. The bill is thus overbroad. 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”). The bill is also overbroad in that it would reach 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 walk or drive by within 100 feet of a polling place. We respectfully suggest that the bill be amended to except from the bill’s coverage these types of possessions.

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Support with Amendments of SB15 - Firearms - Handgun Permit - Notice of Expiration and Renewal Instructions

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✅ SB15

This bill simply directs the Maryland State Police to “mail a postcard that provides written notice of a handgun permit’s impending expiration and the instructions on how to submit a renewal handgun permit application online through the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal to a holder of a handgun permit at least 60 days before the expiration of the permit if: (1) the holder of the handgun permit filed a paper handgun permit application; and (2) the paper handgun permit application was filed on or before October 1, 11 2019.” We support this bill with two amendments. The first amendment is that the notice be sent by email or regular mail. That amendment is offered because MD Code, General Provisions, § 4-325 makes this information confidential. Specifically, Section 4-325(a) provides that the State Police shall “deny inspection of all records of a person authorized to: * * * (2) carry, wear, or transport a handgun under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article.” Section 4-325(b) expressly limits access to this information to the person named in the record or the person’s attorney. A “postcard” containing the notice specified in the bill simply does not provide the necessary security contemplated by these provisions. We suggest, therefore, that the bill be amended to provide that the notice be sent via email, rather than by postcard. With this amendment, we support this bill.

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Support of SB221 - Handgun Qualification License - Firearms Safety Training

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✅ SB221

The HQL Statute and the Bill:

This bill would amend MD Code, Public Safety, 5-117.1 (HQL statute). That Section prohibits law-abiding, responsible Maryland citizens from acquiring a handgun unless they have a Handgun Qualification License (“HQL”). Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety, § 5-117.1(c). Subsection (d) imposes training requirements, including a (i) a minimum of 4 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor” consisting of “(ii) classroom instruction on: 1. State firearm law; 2. home firearm safety; 3. handgun mechanisms and operation; and (iii) a firearms orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm.” In regulations, the Maryland State Police have added a new and additional live-fire training requirement, mandating that the HQL applicant “safely fires at least one round of live ammunition.” COMAR 29.03.01.29(C)(4). That live round requirement is not found in the statute.

In the interests of full disclosure, we note that the live-fire requirement, along with the rest of the HQL statute, is presently being challenged by MSI in federal court. See MSI v. Hogan, 2017 WL 3891705 (D. MD. 2017) (denying the State’s motion to dismiss). The district court, in a later decision, held that the plaintiffs lacked standing without reaching the merits of the constitutionality of the HQL statute. That decision was very recently reversed on appeal. See MSI v. Hogan, 971 F.3d 199 (4th Cir. 2020). Further proceedings are now being conducted in district court on remand. On the merits, we believe that it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will, in an appropriate case, soon make clear that the “text, history and tradition” test is controlling in determining the constitutionality of gun control legislation – not tiers of scrutiny. Four members of the Supreme Court recently employed this very approach in NY State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n, Inc. v. City of New York, 140 S.Ct. 1525 (2020), where a majority of the Court held that the case was mooted by the repeal of the offending City of New York ordinance, but the concurring Justice and the three dissenting Justices discussed the merits in separate opinions. See Id. at 1526 (Kavanaugh, J.) (concurring in judgment of mootness, but agreeing with Justice Alito’s discussion of Heller and McDonald on the merits; Id. at 1540-41 (Alito, J., joined by Justices Thomas and Gorsuch, dissenting from the judgment of mootness but noting further on the merits that the City’s ordinance violated the Second Amendment under Heller and McDonald). Justice Thomas made the same point very recently in another case. Rogers, et al. v. Grewal, 140 S.Ct.1865, 1868 (2020) (Thomas, J., dissenting from denial of certiorari). See also Heller v. District of Columbia (i.e. “Heller II”), 670 F.3d 1244, 1269 (D.C. Cir. 2016) (Kavanaugh, J., dissenting) (“In my view, Heller and McDonald leave little doubt that courts are to assess gun bans and regulations based on text, history, and tradition, not by a balancing test such as strict or intermediate scrutiny.”).

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Montgomery County Residents, YOUR VOICES ARE NEEDED

Bill 4-21 threatens every gun owner in Montgomery County. Your testimony against this bill is needed before the Montgomery County Council!

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The Montgomery County Council will hold a public hearing on Bill 4-21, "Weapons - Protection of Minors and Public Places - Restrictions Against Ghost Guns and Undetectable Guns" (bill text is HERE) on February 9th at 1:30pm (tentative date). Among other things, the bill would criminalize possession of gun parts virtually everywhere within the county, including your own home. It'd likewise penalize the possession of computer code and restrict what parents and other adults may teach or show their children. Current State law allows business owners and supervisory employees to possess a firearm at their business without a carry permit. Yet, this bill would ban that right completely, requiring these businessmen and women to obtain a carry permit just in order to possess any firearm (not merely a ghost gun) anywhere in their business premises.  We've seen a lot of bad and dangerous legislation over the years, but this is easily among the worst. For a more in-depth look at just how terrible this bill is, read our testimony against Bill 4-21 HERE.

MSI will not let this bill go unchallenged, but stopping the bill from becoming law requires individuals to step up and be heard. We cannot do this alone! It is imperative that the residents of Montgomery County tell the Council how this bill will affect their lives. SIGNUP TO TESTIFY HERE. Be sure to fill in your information, the hearing's date of 02/09/2021, and enter Bill 4-21 in the Hearing Topic field as pictured below.

 
You can either upload a document or record a video no longer than 3 minutes in length. The rules for submitting testimony are on the right-hand portion of the signup page. Don't assume that enactment is a foregone conclusion. Testify to persuade. Some tips:
  • Remember that you're an ambassador for the 2nd Amendment. Civility is a necessity. 
  • Briefly introduce yourself and where you're from.
  • Respectfully speak your mind.
  • Drive home how the bill personally affects you.
  • Use your personal experiences and expertise to advocate from positions of strength. 
  • If you are doing a video, dress in a manner appropriate for the occasion.
We will continue to keep everyone up-to-date on developments. If this bill becomes law, we will need individuals (residents of Montgomery County) who are willing to step forward and be plaintiffs in order to challenge it in court. For more information, email us at . Stay tuned.

Testimony in Opposition to Montgomery County Bill 4-21 - "Weapons – Protection of Minors and Public Places - Restrictions Against Ghost Guns and Undetectable Guns"

Montgomery County Council Bill Page

Bill Text as Introduced

The hearing for Bill 4-21 is scheduled for February 9th at 1:30pm
SIGN UP TO TESTIFY AGAINST THE BILL HERE

February 9, 2021

WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MARK W. PENNAK, PRESIDENT, MSI, IN OPPOSITION TO BILL 4-21

I am the President of Maryland Shall Issue (“MSI”). Maryland Shall Issue is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of gun owners’ rights in Maryland. It seeks to educate the community about the right of self-protection, the safe handling of firearms, and the responsibility that goes with carrying a firearm in public. I am also an attorney and an active member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and the Bar of Maryland. I recently retired from the United States Department of Justice, where I practiced law for 33 years in the Courts of Appeals of the United States and in the Supreme Court of the United States. I am an expert in Maryland firearms Law, federal firearms law and the law of self-defense. I am also a Maryland State Police certified handgun instructor for the Maryland Wear and Carry Permit and the Maryland Handgun Qualification License and a certified NRA instructor in rifle, pistol and personal protection in the home, personal protection outside the home, muzzle loading as well as a range safety officer. I write in OPPOSITION TO BILL 4-21. For the reasons set forth below, this bill is preempted by State law and, if enacted, would be violative of the First Amendment and the Second Amendment of the Constitution. The Council would be well-advised to stay its hand and allow the General Assembly take the lead in these matters.

The Bill Is Preempted:

State law, MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-209, broadly preempts “the right of a county, municipal corporation, or special taxing district to regulate the purchase, sale, taxation, transfer, manufacture, repair, ownership, possession, and transportation of:(1) a handgun, rifle, or shotgun; and (2) ammunition for and components of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun.” The statute provides, as an exception, that the locality may regulate these subject matters ‘(i) with respect to minors; (ii) with respect to law enforcement officials of the subdivision; and (iii) except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, within 100 yards of or in a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly.”

This bill violates Section 4-209 in multiple ways. First, and perhaps most egregiously, the bill defines a place of public assembly to include “a place where the public may assemble, whether the place is publicly or privately owned.” The bill thus defines public “assembly” as a privately or publically owned place where people “may assemble” and is thus utterly circular. It includes places where persons “may” assemble, not merely places where people do assemble or even regularly assemble. It could thus include any place, private or public, that people “may” assemble in the unknowable future. 

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony on SB190 and HB415 - Firearms – Right to Purchase, Possess, and Carry – Use of Medical Cannabis

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While different (HB 415 is more extensive), both bills provide that “a person may not be denied the right to purchase, possess, or carry a firearm under this title solely on the basis that the person” is authorized to use medical cannabis under title 13, subtitle 33 of the Health – General Article of Maryland law. 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.

Read SB190

Read HB415

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MDGA 2021 - MSI Testimony in Support of SB309 - Handgun Permit - Preliminary Approval

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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 309 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.

Read SB309

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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.

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Members of the Maryland House and Senate Request Governor Hogan Shut Down Gun Stores

Find the original letter HERE

April 2, 2020

To the Honorable Governor of Maryland,

     My fellow legislators and I wish to thank you for your outstanding leadership during this unprecedented state of emergency. Marylanders are looking to you for guidance in this challenging time. Further guidance we think is needed, when assuring the safety of Maryland’s already vulnerable populations.

     The ability of gun stores to remain open during this pandemic is worrisome for many Marylanders. Less than two weeks ago, a long line extended outside and around the corner of a gun store in Silver Spring. It is alarming to see Marylanders stockpiling weapons in such a state of emergency. Maryland has seen a surge in the purchase of guns and ammunition during this time of crisis.

     Guns are not essential to solving this pandemic, nor will they make people safer. At this time, guns are only hurting vulnerable populations- victims of domestic violence and individuals already prone to suicide are most at risk. Marylanders are home, tensions are high, every Marylander is eager to save lives; however, gun stores remain open creating fear for our most vulnerable citizens.

     Pursuant to Public Safety Article 14-303, you have the ability to close these stores. Should you choose not to close gun stores, in light of the recent directive from the federal Department of Homeland Security, we ask that you join our neighboring states and require an appointment during limited business hours, for individuals who choose to purchase guns at this time.

     The increased sales of guns in recent weeks is disturbing. Marylanders need to be encouraged to fight this pandemic with hygiene and social distancing rather than with guns.

Here is the list of legislators (the signatories). If they are your representatives, please tell them (civilly) how you feel about their insistence that the Governor close all the gun stores.

Click on their name for the contact information.

Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary                                        Senator Sarah Elfreth
Delegate Heather Bagnall                                              Senator Brian Feldman
Delegate Darryl Barnes                                                   Senator Guy Guzzone
Delegate Ben Barnes                                                      Senator Shelly Hettleman
Delegate Erek Barron                                                      Senator Susan Lee
Delegate Sandy Bartlett                                                 Senator Jim Rosapepe
Delegate Lisa Belcastro                                                 Senator Will Smith
Delegate Ben Brooks                                                      Senator Jeff Waldstriecher
Delegate Jon Cardin                                                       Senator Mary Washington
Delegate Al Carr
Delegate Lorig Charkoudian
Delegate Charlotte Crutchfield
Delegate Dereck Davis 
Delegate Diana Fennell
Delegate Kathleen Dumais
Delegate Eric Ebersole
Delegate Jessica Feldmark
Delegate Wanika Fisher
Delegate Terri Hill
Delegate Michael Jackson
Delegate Anne Kaiser
Delegate Arianna Kelly
Delegate Marc Korman
Delegate Carol Krimm
Delegate Robbyn Lewis
Delegate Jazz Lewis
Delegate Karen Lewis-Young
Delegate Brooke Lierman
Delegate Lesley Lopez
Delegate Sara Love
Delegate Maggie McIntosh
Delegate David Moon
Delegate Julie Palakovich-Carr
Delegate Edith Patterson
Delegate Josephine Peña-Melnyk
Delegate Shane Pendergrass
Delegate Kirill Reznik
Delegate Sheila Ruth
Delegate Emily Shetty
Delegate Jared Solomon
Delegate Jen Terrasa
Delegate Veronica Turner
Delegate Kris Valderrama
Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith
Delegate Stewart Vaughn
Delegate Alonzo Washington
Delegate Courtney Watson
Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins
Delegate Nicole Williams


2020 Maryland General Assembly Recap

It feels like almost an eternity ago now. Sine Die arrived three weeks early due to the threat of COVID-19, but that did not stop the General Assembly from pushing gun control. However, because of your actions just one piece of bad legislation,(HB4/SB208) (the bills are identical) are on the way to the Governor's desk and NOT the deluge of gun control bills that were introduced this session. We urge you to request a veto for HB4/SB208. You can contact the governor at 410-974-3901 or online at https://governor.maryland.gov/contact-the-governor/. Select "Legislation" as the message topic. MSI has formally requested Governor Hogan veto these bills and you can read that letter HERE.


We'd be remiss not mention the Delegates and Senators who worked hard this year in defense of your Second Amendment rights. Without slighting the efforts of all who helped during this last Session, we wish to laud in particular the efforts of Senators Hough, Ready and Cassilly, who sit on the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, and the efforts of Minority Leader Delegate Kipke, who lead the opposition to these gun bills, as well as the tireless defense of the Second Amendment by Delegates Arikan, Cox, Grammer, McComas and Pippy, who are members of the House Judiciary Committee.  We also respect Delegate Watson for his insistence on real facts and data, rather than emotional appeals, in Judiciary Committee hearings.  We thank all those members of the General Assembly who at least purported to listen to views with which they may have disagreed.

Please take a moment to check on the votes cast by your representative at tinyurl.com/guns2020 (if you do not know who represents you, first go to mdelect.net to find them). Click on the Legislators tab and see a list of Senators and Delegates. Clicking on the name of the Senator or Delegate and a tab will open displaying their contact information and their votes on gun-related legislation.



If you look at an individual bill, you can also see how the committee members voted. Thank your representatives for their good actions and ask them (civilly) about the bad votes. Even if you have representatives who agreed with you, it's important to tell them that you appreciate their work! For those whose legislators that didn't vote in your favor a majority of the time, do praise them for any positive things they did, while appropriately holding them to account for their bad votes.

What Passed?
HB4/SB208 - "Public Safety - Rifles and Shotguns - Secondary Transactions"
This bill (the two bills are identical) criminalizes private sale or permanent transfers of long guns. As you may know, it's currently legal for a Maryland resident to sell privately a rifle or shotgun to another resident provided you have no reason to believe the buyer is prohibited, the arm is legal to possess and transfer within the State, and the sale is not for the purpose of doing business. After October 1st, this exchange would have to be done by a gun dealer who agrees to do transfers. The bill bans such private sales or permanent transfers unless such a sale or transfer is facilitated by a FFL, who conducts a NICS check on the purchaser and who may charge a "reasonable" fee for providing this service.  A violation of this requirement to use a FFL for private sale or permanent transfer is punishable with imprisonment of 6 months and/or a $10,000 fine. 

We were not able to stop this bill, but we were able to eliminate any such requirements for a temporary loan of a long gun. Specifically, the bill "does not include the temporary gratuitous exchange of a rifle or shotgun."  For example, someone who needs to leave their long guns for safe keeping with a trusted person while they move or for any common and innocent reason may still do so. We also managed to reduce the penalty for a violation from 5 years imprisonment in the original bills to 6 months.  That reduced penalty matters as a misdemeanor punishable by more than 2 yearsimprisonment is a disqualifying crime under federal and state law.

Of course, the bill does nothing to promote public safety. Handguns, which are substantially more regulated under Maryland law, are overwhelmingly used in more crimes than long guns. Indeed, you are much more likely to die from a knife attack than be murdered by a long gun. It is already a federal felony to knowingly provide a firearm to someone who is prohibited from possessing firearms. Hunters and law-abiding sportsmen have been trading and exchanging these ordinary long guns for generations. Despite these facts, the bill was passed by wide margins in both chambers of the legislature. We are requesting Governor Hogan veto these bills and you can read that letter HEREYou can also request a veto by calling 410-974-3901 or visiting the Governor's website HERE. Select "Legislation" as the Message Topic. Again, we urge you to do so.

HB1629 - "Office of the Attorney General – Firearm Crime, Injuries, Fatalities, and Crime Firearms – Study"
As the title states, this bill requires that the Office of the Attorney General conduct a study on firearms with information provided by police agencies across the state. Much of this work is already being conducted by the Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention, so the bill is largely duplicative.  We are leery of the bill as it may turn out to be just another biased effort to produce bad data so as to "justify" further efforts to restrict firearms owned by law-abiding Marylanders.  That the bill assigns this task to the Office of the Attorney General simply confirms our suspicions, as Attorney General Frosh was the leading sponsor of the so-called Firearms Safety Act of 2013 while serving in the Senate as Chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.  We hope we are wrong about this bill and will monitor developments as things get under way.

What Didn't Pass?
A LOT. Seriously... We could give you a Lord of the Rings-length tome explaining the too numerous to mention bills that didn't pass, but we will cover a few here.

Shall Issue Bills
The General Assembly refuses to recognize that the Second Amendment applies outside the home.  Thus, pro-gun bills introduced by Delegates Cox and Hartman, and Senator Hough died in committee without so much as a vote.  We look forward to a ruling by the Supreme Court s in one of a number of "may issue" cases that are on "hold" before the Court pending a decision in NYRPA v. NYC

On a related note, Senator Hough also introduced SB506 which would have allowed a permit applicant to take the required 16 hours of training AFTER the State Police have said they're otherwise eligible for a permit. The Senate passed this bill 46-0 (yes, unanimously), but the bill wasn't acted on at all in the House. Be sure to thank your senator for their vote on this bill!  

Semi-Automatic Rifle and Pistol Bans
Introduced early in session, SB39 would have banned more variants of AR15 rifles. The bill never moved. Later, the monstrous HB1261 was introduced in the House but was withdrawn after considerable pushback. That bill would have compelled registration of currently possessed semi-auto rifles and pistols after 3 months and banned the new acquisition of the affected arms. The bill would have criminalized the mere possession of existing lawful firearms (including H-BAR rifles) and effectively banned the future acquisition of firearms used in competitions and home defense. We thank all those who voiced their opposition to this bill.

Dealers Requirements
Maryland's gun dealers and you the consumer can breathe a sigh of relief for now. HB1257/SB816 would have imposed expensive and burdensome requirements upon all gun dealers in the state no matter how small.  Under these bills, all dealers would have been required to conduct annual background checks and  submit to fingerprinting.  The bills would have required the electronic record-keeping subject to access by the State Police at any time and imposed a wide array of security requirements and mandates. It would have shuttered many businesses and those that remain would have little choice but to extend their new expenses to you.  A big thank you to all the dealers who came to Annapolis on both days these bills were heard. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) also deserves a salute for their involvement in fighting back against these bills.

Homemade Guns
HB910/SB958 would have criminalized the mere  possession of any unserialized firearm (including a receiver) made after 1968.  This so-called "Ghost Gun" bill would have banned the mere possession of a block of aluminum as well as any distribution of computer code. Thankfully, neither of these bills were voted out of committee in either the House or the Senate.  Hats off to those Delegates, Senators, and a representative of the States Attorney's Office who mentioned that they either have friends and family who make their own guns or do so themselves! This is the second straight year such legislation has been introduced.  We expect this issue will come back again next session.

So-Called Safe Storage
SB 646 passed the Senate, but failed to pass the House in the rush to adjourn at early sine die. As it passed the Senate, this bill would have imposed far more stringent requirements on gun owners for the storage of their firearms, including a requirement that  "a person may not store or leave a firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor could gain access to the firearm."  While the bill (as it passed the Senate) purported to have safe harbor provisions for the storage of unloaded firearms (and separate provisions for long guns for which the minor had parental permission), the bill effectively would have banned the storage of any loaded firearm, no matter how it was stored.  That is because it is possible (the dictionary definition for "could") for a minor (defined as any person under 18) to gain access to any such firearm, even if it was stored in a two-ton safe. This bill violates Heller, which struck down as unconstitutional DC’s safe storage law that made "it impossible for citizens to use them [firearms] for the core lawful purpose of self-defense.”  Needless to say, an unloaded firearm is useless for self-defense in the home. It is highly likely that this bill will be back next year.  We congratulate Senators Cassilly, Hough, Ready and West in voting against this bill in Committee and on the floor.


Veto Request for HB4/SB208

March 23, 2020

VIA email to

Mr. Keiffer Jackson Mitchell, Jr.
Chief Legislative Officer
Legislative Office
State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401-1925

Re:  Veto Request for HB 4 / SB 208

Dear Mr. Mitchell: 

As you may know, Maryland Shall Issue is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of gun owners’ rights in Maryland. The undersigned President of Maryland Shall Issue is an attorney and an active member of the Bar of the District of Columbia and the Bar of Maryland, having recently retired from the United States Department of Justice, after 33 years of practicing before the federal Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States. 

This letter is submitted on behalf of Maryland Shall Issue, its officers and Board and all its members, to request that Governor Hogan veto HB 4 / SB 208, which criminalizes private sales of ordinary long guns between law-abiding persons.  These bills are misguided and, worse, will criminalize a long-standing activity that has no discernable effect on public safety.  Indeed, it appears that the General Assembly would rather criminalize the law-abiding than enact the Governor’s crime bills that would address actual (and repeated) criminal behavior.  We urge a veto. 

1.  The Premise Of These Bills Is False

The proffered premise of the bill is public safety.  Specifically, the idea appears to be that requiring comprehensive background checks for private sales of long guns will reduce homicides and suicides by keeping guns out of the hands of prohibited persons or persons who may use them to commit suicide.  That premise is false. In a recent study concerning California's comprehensive background check (“CBC”) and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies conducted by researchers from the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and by Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (among others), the study concluded that California’s long standing comprehensive background check system “was not associated with a net change in the firearm homicide rate over the ensuing 10 years in California.”  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047279718306161.  (Study at 1, Abstract).  The researchers further concluded that the same was true for suicides, finding that “[t]he decrease in firearm suicides in California was similar to the decrease in nonfirearm suicides in that state” and that the “[r]esults were robust across multiple model specifications and methods.” (Id.).  As the study also states, “a more rigorous time-series analysis found no effect on firearm suicide and homicide rates from repealing CBC policies in two states.” 

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2020 MDGA - MSI Testimony in Opposition to SB1050

This bill proposes an amendment to MD Code Public Safety § 5-146 to criminalize and increase the penalties for a failure to report a lost or stolen regulated firearm. Under current law, the owner of a regulated firearm has 72 hours to report the lost or theft of the firearm to a local law enforcement agency. A knowingly and willful failure to do so is punishable, on the first offense, as a civil offense with a fine not exceeding $500.00.  On the second or subsequent offense, the failure is punishable as a criminal misdemeanor with imprisonment of 90 days and a fine not exceeding $500.00.

This bill would abolish the civil penalty for the first offense and make a failure to report on the first offense a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.  Second and subsequent violations are also criminal and punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 1 year and a fine of $2,000. 

The Bill Criminalizes the Victim And Is Extreme In The Penalties Imposed

This bill is apparently motivated by a desire to prevent gun diversions and straw purchases by punishing a theft victim for a failure to report a lost or stolen regulated firearm.  Those motivations are misguided.  A Rand Corporation study published in 2018 found that there is no evidence or study that actually supports any reporting requirement.  https://www.rand.org/research/gun-policy/analysis/lost-or-stolen-firearms.html. That Study is attached to this testimony.  Specifically, the Study found that “[w]e found no qualifying studies showing that lost or stolen firearm reporting requirements increased any of the eight outcomes we investigated.”  (Id. at 1).  Indeed, the Study further states that “[w]e found no qualifying studies showing inconclusive evidence about lost or stolen firearm reporting requirements.”  (Id.).  In short, the supposed benefits of such reporting requirements are speculative at best.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition of SB664

This bill proposes an amendment to the Maryland Constitution to create a new State constitutional right of privacy in a new Article 48.  The bill provides:

(A) THAT EACH INDIVIDUAL HAS A NATURAL, ESSENTIAL, AND INHERENT RIGHT TO PRIVACY THAT GUARANTEES FREEDOM FROM GOVERNMENT INTRUSION.

(B) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY INCLUDES THE RIGHT OF AN INDIVIDUAL TO LIVE   FREE   FROM   INTRUSION   CAUSED   BY   OR   DIRECTLY TRACEABLE   TO THE UNAUTHORIZED COLLECTION OF DATA CONCERNING THE INDIVIDUAL BY ANOTHER.

(C) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY DOES NOT PROHIBIT THE STATE FROM REGULATING THE SALE OR PURCHASE OF A FIREARM OR AMMUNITION.

(D) THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY MAY NOT BE INFRINGED WITHOUT A SHOWING OF A COMPELLING STATE INTEREST.

(E)(1) THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY MAY PROTECT THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY THROUGH APPROPRIATE LEGISLATION. (2)THE GOVERNOR MAY ENFORCE THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY THROUGH APPROPRIATE EXECUTIVE ACTION.

The Bill Is Unconstitutional In Its Carve-Out of Gun Owners From The Right of Privacy.

The “right to privacy” created by this bill would recognize the right of persons to a “right to privacy that guarantees freedom from government intrusion” and protect the right of individuals “to live free of intrusion” that would arise from the “unauthorized collection of data by another.”  The scope of this new right of privacy is, of course, quite unclear. But, no matter unclear in other respects, one thing is clear:  this right would not apply to gun owners as it provides that this right of privacy “does not prohibit the state from regulating the sale or purchase of a firearm or ammunition.”  Thus, as long as the State can justify its governmental “intrusion” and “data collection” as a regulation of “the sale or purchase of a firearm or ammunition” the right to privacy created by the bill would not exist.  Under this bill, gun owners, alone of all the citizens in Maryland, are carved out as a special class of citizens who are not protected by this new right of privacy.  This carve-out is nothing short of outrageous.  It is also blatantly unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. 

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Everytown Lobbyist Drastically Amends HB1104 - Leave a pistol at home while others in the house? CRIMINAL!

Under these bills (HB1104/SB1074), a law-abiding non-prohibited adult who loans a handgun to another law-abiding, non-prohibited adult must go through all the transfer requirements imposed by Section 5-124. That means that the transferee and the transferor must fill out a firearms application otherwise required by MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-118 (State Form 77-R) at a FFL or a State Police barracks, pay $10 and then wait 7 full days before completing the transfer. If the transferee to the loan were to return the handgun to the original transferor after the loan was over, the process would have to be repeated with still another Form 77-R and still another 7 day wait and still another check for $10. Under MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-144, a knowing “participation” in a “transfer” that violates Section 5-124 is punishable with up to 5 years in prison or a fine up to $10,000, “or both.” This bill overrules controlling precedent of the Maryland Court of Appeals, creates enormous legal traps for innocent gun owners while also bringing Section 5-124 into direct conflict with numerous provisions of existing Maryland firearms law. The bill is breathtaking in its scope.

The manuever is in effect an undoing of the compromise made in 2019 on SB346 (you can read our original testimony on those bills HERE).


Contact Info

Mailing Address:

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

Phone:  410-849-9197
Email: 
Web:   www.marylandshallissue.org