2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB636 and SB646

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, UNLESS THE FIREARM IS LOCKED.” 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 under § 16 10–301.1 of the Natural Resources Article. 

It also changes the punishment.  Current law punishes a violation of this section as “a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to a fine not exceeding $1,000.”  No prison time is imposed under current law.  These bills would create three new layers of offense with increasing punishments.   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 3 ANOTHER PERSON” is punishable with 5 years of imprisonment and a fine of $5,000. 

THE BILLS ARE DRACONIAN, IMPOSSIBLE TO COMPLY WITH AND PATENTLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB422

Current Maryland Law:

This bill purports to address and impose new training requirements on persons who hold a “wear and carry permit” issued by the Maryland State Police pursuant to MD Code Public Safety § 5-306.  Under MD Code Public Safety § 5-309(a), such “a permit expires on the last day of the holder's birth month following 2 years after the date the permit is issued.”  Under Section 5-309(b), “a permit may be renewed for successive periods of 3 years each if, at the time of an application for renewal, the applicant possesses the qualifications for the issuance of a permit and pays the renewal fee stated in this subtitle.”  Thus, the initial permit is good for two years and renewed permits are good for three years. 

Current Maryland law also imposes among the most (if not the most) demanding and stringent training requirements of any state.  Under Section 5-306(a)(5)(i), an applicant must first complete (prior to submitting any application for a permit) 16 hours of instruction given by a State Police certified qualified handgun instructor.  Similarly, any person seeking to renew a carry permit must submit proof of “8 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor.”  (Id.).  For both the initial application and the renewal, that instruction must include “a firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant's proficiency and use of the firearm.  Section 5-306(a)(5)(ii).  Under this requirement, the State Police mandate a minimum score on a prescribed, timed course of live-fire at multiple distances from the target (3yds, 5yds, 7yds and 15yds). That score must be certified by the instructor with the actual score achieved specified in the certification by the instructor. 

The Bill:

This bill would add a new Section 5-306.1 to the Public Safety Article to provide that:

A PERSON TO WHOM A PERMIT IS ISSUED OR RENEWED SHALL SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE ON SEPARATE DAYS EACH CALENDAR YEAR: 

(I) A COURSE ON SITUATIONAL AWARENESS APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY; AND 

(II) A COURSE ON THE COMPETENT HANDLING OF A FIREARM APPROVED BY THE SECRETARY. 

The bill would further amend MD Code Public Safety §5-310 to allow the State Police to revoke a permit on grounds that the holder of the permit failed to meet these new requirements imposed by this new Section.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB968 and HB1160

These bills would create a new section 4-111 in the Criminal Law Article of the Maryland Code to provide that A PERSON MAY NOT SELL, OFFER TO SELL, OR DISPLAY AN IMITATION FIREARM, which the bills define to mean “A TOY, A DEVICE, OR AN OBJECT THAT SUBSTANTIALLY DUPLICATES OR CAN REASONABLY BE  PERCEIVED TO  BE  A FIREARM.”  The bills apply only to the City of Baltimore. 

The Bills Are Preempted By Federal Law:

The bills effectively ban the sale of imitation guns the sale of which are expressly protected by federal law (15 U.S.C. § 5001), and federal regulations (15 C.F.R. § 272.2, et seq.).  That federal law establishes a system by which imitation firearms are marked and preempts any State regulation of sales, providing in 15 U.S.C. § 5001(g):

The provisions of this section shall supersede any provision of State or local laws or ordinances which provide for markings or identification inconsistent with provisions of this section provided that no State shall

(i) prohibit the sale or manufacture of any look-alike, nonfiring, collector replica of an antique firearm developed prior to 1898, or

(ii) prohibit the sale (other than prohibiting the sale to minors) of traditional B-B, paint ball, or pellet-firing air guns that expel a projectile through the force of air pressure.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB302

Statutory Context and the Bill: 

A “dangerous weapon” is defined by MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-101 to include a wide assortments of weapons, but that list excludes “a penknife without a switchblade.”  A “penknife” is simply a folding knife, like a Swiss Army knife.  See Bacon v. State, 322 Md. 140 (1991).  Persons excluded from 4-101’s ban include law enforcement officers, persons with a Maryland wear and carry permit to carry a handgun and “a person who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”

However, MD Code Criminal law, 4-102(b), provides that a “person may not carry or possess a firearm, knife, or deadly weapon of any kind on public school property.” Because this provision separately bans knives, not even a folding penknife can be possessed on public school property. Section 4-102 makes an exception for law enforcement officers who are on duty or who are a parent, guardian, or visitor of a child at the school. It also makes an exception for “a person hired by a county board of education specifically for the purpose of guarding public school property.”  Unlike Section 4-101, Section 4-102 makes no exception for persons with a Maryland wear and carry permit. For mere possession of every weapon besides a handgun, a violation of Section 4-102 is punishable by “imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $1,000 or both.”  Possession of a handgun on public school property is punished more severely. Under MD Code Criminal Law, 4-203(c)(2)(i), possession of a handgun on public school property “is subject to imprisonment for not less than 30 days and not exceeding 3 years or a fine of not less than $250 and not exceeding $2,500 or both.” 

This bill would expand Section 4-102 to include not only public school property but also include “NONPUBLIC” school property.  It would exclude from its coverage “a person hired by A NONPUBLIC SCHOOL SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF GUARDING NONPUBLIC SCHOOL PROPERTY.  Because wear and carry permit holders are not exempt under 4-203 for public schools, such permits holders would likewise be banned from private school property under this bill. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB208

The bill (as well as its cross-filed bill HB4) would add a wholly new set of restrictions on temporary and permanent long gun “transfers” which would be defined in an extremely broad manner.  The bills would severely criminalize any non-compliance with its many and highly complex new restrictions.  The bills would effectively eviscerate loans of guns between law-abiding individuals, including fellow hunters and effectively destroy the market value of countless gun collections, as their sales would be all but banned. The bills mandate the use background checks by Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) for private loans of long guns in a manner that would actually violate federal law.  The bills would create nightmarish uncertainty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Finally, the bills ignore the well-documented reality that these sorts are long guns are almost never used in crime.  Indeed, FBI statistics demonstrate that a person far more likely to be killed by a knife or hands or feet than a long gun. There is simply no public safety purpose that would be served by these bills.

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support of SB198

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 applicanthas 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). 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Support with Amendments to HB47, HB265, SB156, and SB327

The Statutory Scheme and the Problem Addressed by these Bills:

Under MD Code Public Safety 5-117.1(c), [a] person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person” obtains a Handgun Qualification License” (HQL).   Under Section 5-117.1(a), the statue does not apply to “a law enforcement officer or person who is retired in good standing from service with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or a local law enforcement agency of the State.”  By its terms, this exclusion for active and retired law enforcement officers applies only to federal agents or law enforcement officers of the State of Maryland

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2020 MDGA - Information Only Testimony for SB179 and HB73

While different (HB 73 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.  MSI takes no position with respect to the merits of these bills.  However, we do wish to point out some legal realities for purposes of informing the debate on these bills. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB35

Bill Link: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/hb0035?ys=2020RS

This bill would require the Maryland State Police to study and make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning the feasibility of “FIREARM TELEMATICS” which the bill defines to mean “AN ELECTRONIC SENSOR OR EQUIPMENT INSTALLED ON A FIREARM DESIGNED TO TRACK THE LOCATION OF THE FIREARM IF IT BECOMES LOST OR STOLEN.”  The obvious intent underlying such firearm telematics is trace and locate any firearm so equipped.  Presumably, such equipment could be made mandatory if the study were to determine that doing so would be technically feasible.  Indeed, the bill contemplates such equipment for “PREVIOUSLY MANUFACTURED FIREARMS.”

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB55

Bill Link: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/sb0055?ys=2020RS

This bill would create a new “buyback fund” in the Maryland State Police for the purpose of paying persons for the voluntary surrender of what the bill calls “assault weapons.”  It first defines “assault weapons” to include “A SELF–LOADING, SEMI–AUTOMATIC OR FULLY AUTOMATIC ACTION FIREARM WITH A DETACHABLE MAGAZINE THAT FIRES AN INTERMEDIATE OR HIGH–POWERED CENTERFIRE CARTRIDGE” and to include “A REGULATED FIREARM, AS  DEFINED UNDER § 5–101 OF THIS ARTICLE.”  To create the buyback fund, the bill would direct the Comptroller to create a checkoff on the income tax form that allows taxpayers to contribute $5.00 to the fund, either by reducing the refund or adding to the tax liability of the taxpayer.  The State Police are directed to administer the fund by “SETTING THE PRICES OF ASSAULT WEAPONS THAT THE STATE MAY BUY” and further directs the State Police to either destroy or donate any guns turned in to “the Armed Forces of the United States.”  The bill compels the Governor to include, starting in FY 2022, an annual budget appropriation of $50,000 to the Fund. 

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to SB39

Bill Link: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/sb0039?ys=2020RS

The Statutory Scheme of Existing Maryland Law:

This bill would include ANDERSON MANUFACTURING .223 CALIBER AM–15 AND .300 CALIBER AM–15 on the list of guns set forth in MD Code Public Safety 5-101(r)(2) that are now classified as assault weapons and thus were banned in 2013, with enactment of the Firearms Safety Act of 2013.  Section 5-101(r)(2)(xv) already lists (and thus bans) the “Colt AR-15, CAR-15, and all imitations except Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR rifle.”

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2020 MDGA - Testimony in Opposition to HB4

Bill Link: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/Legislation/Details/hb0004?ys=2020RS

This bill would add a wholly new set of restrictions on temporary and permanent long gun “transfers” which would be defined in an extremely broad manner. The bills would severely criminalize any non-compliance with its many and highly complex new restrictions. The bills would effectively eviscerate loans of guns between law-abiding individuals, including fellow hunters and effectively destroy the market value of countless gun collections, as their sales would be all but banned. The bills mandate the use background checks by Federal Firearms Licensees (“FFLs”) for private loans of long guns in a manner that would actually violate federal law. The bill would create nightmarish uncertainty in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, the bills ignore the well-documented reality that these sorts are long guns are almost never used in crime. Indeed, FBI statistics demonstrate that a person far more likely to be killed by a knife or hands or feet than a long gun. There is simply no public safety purpose that would be served by the bill.

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Veto Request for SB1000/HB1343

April 12, 2019

Mr. Christopher S. Shank
Chief Legislative Officer
Legislative Office
State House
100 State Circle Annapolis, MD 21401-1925

Re: Veto Request for SB1000/HB1343

This letter is submitted on behalf of Maryland Shall Issue, its officers and Board and all its members, to request that Governor Hogan veto SB1000/HB1343, which abolish the Handgun Permit Review Board. 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, 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. Having just passed the out-of-state-attorney’s bar exam, the undersigned will also soon be an active member of the Maryland Bar.

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Post-Legislative Session Update - What Passed and What Didn't

What a Session! We saw the most anti-gun bills introduced since 2013. But as a community, we stood tall and defeated almost every single anti-gun measure. Maryland Shall Issue thanks each and every one of you who took time from your days, evenings, and endured sleepless nights to contribute to the defense and advancement of your fellow Marylanders rights. Despite this particularly hostile legislative session, you didn't tire or throw in the towel. Without your phone calls, meetings, letters, and testimony, who knows the damages and criminal penalties Marylanders would be facing this year. We know we can count on you when the time calls and are honored to have your support. Again, thank you.

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MGA2019: Testimony in Opposition to SB1000 and HB1343 - Public Safety - Handgun Permit Review Board - Repeal

PDF Available Here

The Handgun Permit Review Board serves as civilian oversight of Maryland State Police decisions on applications for carry permits and modifications to existing permits. Removal of the Board will mean that the only recourse applicants would have from arbitrary State Police decisions would be an appeal to an administrative law judge for formal trial-type proceedings. As a practical matter, that means you would need a lawyer and that is expensive. The State Police know that, of course, so the elimination of the Board is simply part of their overall strategy of discouraging applications and appeals.

These bills would repeal MD Code Public Safety § 5-302 to eliminate the Handgun Permit Review Board established by that section. Under that Section, the Board consists of five persons appointed by the Governor. The bill would also amend 5–312 of the Public Safety Article to provide appeals from decisions concerning a handgun carry permit would be only to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), an administrative body which employs administrative law judges to conduct trial-type hearings in disputes over agency decisions. These bills must be considered in the greater context of the law and the facts associated with carry permits in Maryland. Thus viewed, the bills are misguided and uninformed.

Be sure to read our entire position in the PDF here.


MGA2019: Testimony in Opposition to HB92 - Public Safety - Handgun Permits - Payment of Fees

PDF Available Here

House Bill 92 would amend MD Code Public Safety 5-304. That section sets out the requirements for an application for wear and carry permits issued by the Maryland State Police. It establishes fee caps for the applications and provides that the applicant for a carry permit may pay the fees under this section by “a personal check, business check, certified check or money order.” HB 92 would amend this last requirement, providing that the applicant must pay via “a method of payment approved by the Secretary.” For the reasons set forth below, this change is misguided and would impose additional barriers on applicants who lack the means to meet the State Police’s new requirements.

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Latest News

US Supreme Court Orders Response from MD Attorney General Brian Frosh in "Assault Weapon" Ban Challenge

On January 14, the Supreme Court ordered the Maryland Attorney General to file a response to the petition for certiorari filed by plaintiffs in Bianchi v. Frosh, No. 21-901. In that case, plaintiffs are challenging Maryland's "assault weapon" ban as unconstitutional.

That order means, at the minimum, that at least one Justice on the Court wants a response. It also likely means that the Court will hold this petition pending a decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, No. 20-843, in which the Supreme Court is considering the constitutionality of New York's "good cause" requirement for carry permits. Holding Bianchi would be consistent with the hold that the Court has apparently placed on the petition filed in the New Jersey "large-capacity magazine" case, ANJRPC v. Bruck, No. 20-1507. The petition in that case has been pending in the Supreme Court since April of 2021. All of this is good news. A decision in Bruen this Spring may mean that the Court will thereafter vacate the lower court decisions in both Bianchi and ANJRPC and remand for further consideration in light of Bruen. At least, we hope that is the outcome.

The Dangers of Maryland's Carry Laws

On August 12, 2021, Maryland's highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled that a violation of Md. Criminal Law § 4-203(a)(1)(i) is a strict liability crime. Put simply, if one has a handgun on or about them and is not authorized to do so, they are guilty of violating the law. The case is Lawrence v. State, 471 Md. 101 (2021).

Section 4-203 is the statute that broadly prohibits the wear, carry, or transport of handguns within the State. Specifically, § 4-203(a)(1)(i) states:

 (a)    (1)    Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a person may not:

            (i)    wear, carry, or transport a handgun, whether concealed or open, on or about the person;

There are a few exceptions to this ban (found in subsection (b) of Section 4-203), such as one having a Maryland Wear and Carry Permit, possession in the home or business (by the business owner), or when transporting an unloaded handgun (kept in an enclosed case or enclosed holster) between a gun shop and one's residence or from their residence to a gun range. But, outside these sharply limited exceptions set out in subsection (b), the passage above otherwise broadly criminalizes having a pistol on (or about) the person. 

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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