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Gov. Hogan orders state police to stop 'proper cause' rule for gun permits

Office of Governor Larry Hogan

Gov. Larry Hogan has directed the Maryland State Police to suspend the “good and substantial reason” standard for issuing permits to wear and carry firearms, citing a recent Supreme Court ruling that struck down a similar clause in a New York law.

Maryland’s wear and carry permits apply to adults who submit fingerprints, have a “good and substantial reason” for the permit and have completed a state police approved firearms training course. There were 39,797 active concealed carry firearm permits across the state as of July 1, according to state police.

Hogan said in a statement it would be “unconstitutional” to continue enforcing the “good and substantial reason” standard.

“I have consistently supported the right of law-abiding citizens to own and carry firearms, while enacting responsible and common sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill,” he wrote.

The Supreme Court ruled last month against New York’s requirement to show “proper cause” to get concealed carry gun permits in a 6-3 split, arguing that it violates the Second and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Maryland State Police still requires firearms training and other rules before issuing permits, but not the clause struck down by the court.

"Staff will continue to promptly investigate and approve those eligible for a wear and carry permit while ensuring those prohibited by law are not approved," according to a letter sent by state police spokesperson Elena Russo.

Individuals between 18 and 21 years old are ineligible for concealed carry permits unless they must require a firearm for employment purposes.

Applicants must not have a felony conviction or been convicted of a crime for possession, use or distribution of a controlled substance, or have not shown a “propensity for violence” to obtain a permit in Maryland.

The Maryland House Republican Caucus pushed for the state attorney general to issue an opinion on the status of the state’s concealed carry permit law in late June.

Democratic State Senate President Bill Ferguson criticized the decision.

"We are facing a crisis where unfettered access to firearms makes it dangerous to exercise our fundamental freedoms like speech, worship and education," Ferguson said in a statement.

The Democrat promised that during the next legislative session new bills would be introduced to ensure "reasonable restrictions" on firearms in Maryland.

Kristen Mosbrucker is a digital news editor and producer for WYPR. @k_mosbrucker
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