AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

An off duty police officer and a retired police officer were able to defend themselves against a would-be armed robber on Baltimore’s north side Saturday night, shooting and killing the suspect before he could harm them.

The two victims were at the corner of East 23rd Street at Guilford Avenue at about 11:14 p.m. when they were approached by an armed man trying to rob them.

The retired D.O.C. officer and school police officer both took out their concealed guns and shot at the suspect, striking him multiple times.

The armed robber likely thought he’d found a couple of easy marks. After all, it’s nearly impossible to get a concealed carry license in Baltimore (or the rest of the state of Maryland), so what were the odds that he’d run into not one, but two individuals who could legally carry for self-defense?

In Maryland, carrying a firearm for self-defense, at least legally, requires an extensive application process, and one provision, in particular, prevents most residents from acquiring a concealed carry license.

Wear and Carry Permits may be issued to any adult (18 years of age or over) who meets the following criteria:

  1. An applicant between 18 and 21 years of age may only be issued a wear and carry permit to possess a regulated firearm required for employment. – P.S. 5-133 (d)(2)(v)
  2. Has not been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year has been imposed; or convicted of a criminal offense for which you could have been sentenced to more than 2 years incarceration.
  3. Has not been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance;
  4. Is not presently an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance unless under legitimate medical direction;
  5. Based on an investigation, 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 others;
  6. Has a good and substantial reason​ to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against danger.
  7. As of October 1, 2013, has successfully completed the Maryland State Police approved firearms training course within 2 year prior to submitting the original or renewal application.

What is a “good and substantial reason” to carry a firearm for self-defense?  You might think “I live in Baltimore” would be reason enough, or maybe “Have you read the 2nd Amendment? Did you see that part about the right to bear arms?” but you’d be wrong.

Your right to bear arms isn’t seen as a “good and substantial reason” in the state. Neither is your right to self-defense unless you can document specific and ongoing threats against your life.  Once those threats end, you’re not likely to see your license to carry renewed, either. The end result is a state with few concealed carry holders and a number of emboldened criminals.

I’m glad these two law-enforcement veterans are alive and well after being the victims of an armed robbery. I just wish that the state of Maryland recognized you don’t have to be a cop to have the right to protect yourself outside of your home.