Carry permits soar in Maryland as Democrats plot crackdown

Carry permits soar in Maryland as Democrats plot crackdown
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File

As we reported on Thursday, Maryland lawmakers have already been pre-filing legislation that would make it virtually impossible to legally carry a concealed firearm inside most city limits by banning possession of a firearm within 100 feet of a “place of accomodation”; a term defined so broadly that it encompasses everything from hotels and restaurants to gas stations that offer candy and soda for sale.

With Democrats dominating the state legislature and soon to be in control of the governor’s office as well, there’s a very good chance that SB 1 will be signed into law, though it may go through some changes between now and when it gets to incoming-Gov. Wes Moore’s desk (Moore will be sworn into office on January 18th). But as these anti-gun politicians rush to restrict where concealed carry licensees can carry, Marylanders have been racing to acquire their carry permits, and the number of Marylanders exercising their right to bear arms has exploded over the past few months after Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the state police to remove the “justifiable need” requirement for applicants.

85,266 permits were issued in 2022 compared to just 12,189 permits issued in 2021, according to Maryland State Police figures.

Now, Maryland Senate Bill One would make it illegal to carry a permitted gun on anyone’s property without specific permission in addition to restricting people with guns from being within 100 feet of a long list of places providing “public accommodation”,  including virtually every retail business in the state.

“If people don’t feel safe, nothing else matters,” said Sen. Bill Ferguson (D) Baltimore, the President of Maryland’s Senate as he discussed the roll out of the bill on the General Assembly’s opening day.

If people don’t feel safe in Maryland, it’s not because of concealed carry holders. Baltimore, for instance, has now had eight straight years with more than 300 homicides, and lawful gun owners (with or without carry permits) aren’t to blame. In fact, one of the reasons for the massive increase in carry permits is precisely because of what Ferguson said; people don’t feel safe, and they want to exercise their right to carry a firearm in self-defense as a result. If Democrats make that an impossibility by crafting so many “gun-free zones” that a carry permit is meaningless, Second Amendment activists say they’re ready to sue.

Second Amendment activist Mark Pennak, of Maryland Shall Issue, said the SB1 proposal is unconstitutional because it makes exercising the right of a permitted person to carry a gun outside his or her home virtually impossible.

“Outside your home real property is virtually always owned by another,” Pennak said.

“It is dead on arrival in federal court, and I can assure you it will be challenged if it’s enacted into law.”

Even though some of the almost 90-thousand new carry holders are undoubtably Democrats and will hopefully be objecting to their own lawmakers about SB 1 and its unconstitutional provisions, I’m pretty pessimistic about the chances of them persuading the anti-gun majority in the statehouse to back down from their effort to crush the civil rights of residents. Still, gun owners in Maryland will be standing up and speaking out against this attack on the right to bear arms at every step of the process; from committee hearings to signing ceremonies and the inevitable lawsuits that will follow, and I share Pennak’s confidence that if SB 1 is signed into law the federal courts will treat the statute with as much deference and respect as Maryland Democrats are giving to our fundamental right to keep and bear arms in self-defense.