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Maryland's legislative debates on guns you should be watching

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will examine a series of bills that includes where concealed carry permit owners will be able to take their guns.
Matt Bush
Gun bills will be heard on February 7, 2023 in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in Annapolis, Maryland.

Maryland lawmakers Tuesday will take up several bills regarding guns. One is in response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that paved the way for more concealed carry permits in the state.

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will examine a series of bills that includes where concealed carry permit owners will be able to take their guns. Former Gov. Larry Hogan eased Maryland’s regulations for obtaining such permits last summer, after the Supreme Court ruling. By a 6-3 decision, the court in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen deemed a law in New York unconstitutional for requiring a ‘proper cause’ to get a concealed carry permit. That meant applicants needed to show a special reason that they needed one beyond the general public, such as being under threat of physical danger.

Maryland had a similar requirement, a ‘substantial reason.’ Since it was removed, more than 80,000 residents sought a concealed-carry permit in the last six months of 2022, a nearly sevenfold increase from the year before. Of the 85,000 total applications for the year, fewer than 2,000 were denied according to data obtained by the USA TODAY Network.

Montgomery County Democratic Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher is co-sponsor of SB1, which looks to define where those with concealed carry permit holders can take their guns. It limits guns to 100 feet from any place of ‘public accommodation’, such as hotels, restaurants, or stadiums. It also prohibits guns on certain properties unless the owner of that property has given express permission.

“What kind of world do we want to live in?,” asked Waldstreicher during a press conference Feb. 3 in Annapolis.

He says the bill asks as many questions as giving answers.

“What kind of state do I want to raise my three children in? A state awash in guns, armed to the teeth, and drowning in concealed carry permits? A state where every small dispute risks escalation into gun violence?" he queried.

Other measures the Judicial Proceedings Committee will consider Tuesday would allow the Maryland Attorney General’s office to take broader legal action against the firearm industry, banning most sales of rifles and shotguns to those under age 21 — U.S. military and National Guard members excluded — gives Maryland State Police the authority to track all firearms surrendered under final protective orders, and creates a voluntary Do Not Sell Firearm Registrywhich a person could enroll themselves on to prevent them from being sold a gun.

Matt Bush spent 14 years in public radio prior to coming to WYPR as news director in October 2022. From 2008 to 2016, he worked at Washington D.C.’s NPR affiliate, WAMU, where he was the station’s Maryland reporter. He covered the Maryland General Assembly for six years (alongside several WYPR reporters in the statehouse radio bullpen) as well as both Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. @MattBushMD
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