Carry applications soar as Maryland Democrats push for more "gun-free zones"

Carry applications soar as Maryland Democrats push for more "gun-free zones"
(AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Maryland lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of concealed carry on Tuesday, when the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is slated to hear three new gun control bills; one a measure raising the age to purchase rifles and shotguns in the state from 18 to 21, another that tries to do an end run around the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by allowing lawsuits against gun makers under the state’s public nuisance law, and a third provision that would make lawful concealed carry off-limits in the vast majority of publicly accessible places.


While all three pieces of legislation are fundamentally at odds with the Second Amendment, its the concealed carry bill known as SB 1 or the “Gun Safety Act of 2023” that is getting most of the media’s attention, and appears to be the top priority for anti-gun Democrats like the bill’s author, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher.

“Senate Bill 1 is less of a statement and more of a question: What kind of world do we want our children to inherit? It’s deeply personal for me,” said Waldstreicher, who has a nine-year-old son, and two 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. “It could be a world awash with firearms everywhere and that’s just not a world, not a country, not a state I’m willing to accept.”

His comments similar to those from Senate Pres. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) at a press conference last month.

“When I walk into a doctor’s office, or I go into a child care facility, or I go into a church, I don’t want to wonder, if the person next to me is carrying a firearm, whether they’ve had a good or bad day,” Ferguson said. “…When I go to the doctor, I want to go to a place and get my health care serviced. I don’t want to sit in the waiting room and wonder who may or may not be carrying a weapon.”

What’s stopping Ferguson from wondering about that now? I mean, it’s not like people aren’t carrying a firearm without a license in Maryland at the moment.

I think what really scares Ferguson and his anti-gun allies is the fact that since the Supreme Court struck down the “may issue” laws in New York and then-Gov. Larry Hogan followed suit by directing the state police to drop the “good and substantial reason” requirement for those applying for a concealed firearm, demand across Maryland has simply exploded.


In fact, the Maryland State Police received 79,983 concealed carry permit applications from the day of the Bruen decision in June until the end of last year, bringing the year’s total of new applications to 85,266. This figure is a more than seven-fold increase compared to 12,189 applications received in all of 2021, and 11,512 in 2020.

Of the more than 85,000 applications, less than 2,000 applications were disapproved, according to data obtained from the Maryland State Police by the USA TODAY Network – Maryland.

As long as the state could block almost everyone from obtaining a concealed carry license, Democrats saw no reason to expand the number of “gun-free zones” in the state. Only when lawmakers were told they couldn’t prevent the average citizen from receiving a carry license did many of them come to the conclusion that lawfully-carried firearms should be banned almost everywhere a concealed carry holder might visit over the course of her daily routine.

Under SB 1, it would be a misdemeanor crime to carry a firearm within 100 feet of a “place of public accommodation”; a phrase defined so broadly that the vast majority of public and private settings would be off-limits to those with a concealed carry license.

(1) an inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment that provides lodging to transient guests; (2) a restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food or alcoholic beverages for consumption on or off the premises, including a facility located on the premises of a retail establishment or gasoline station; (3) a motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium, or other place of exhibition or entertainment; 4) a retail establishment that: (i) is operated by a public or private entity; and (ii) offers goods, services, entertainment, recreation, or transportation; or (5) an establishment: (i) 1. that is physically located within the premises of any other establishment covered by this subtitle; or 2. within the premises of which any other establishment covered by this subtitle is physically located; and (ii) that holds itself out as serving patrons of the covered establishment.


While the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will be debating SB 1 on Tuesday, a federal judge in Maryland will be hearing a request for a restraining order blocking Montgomery County’s nearly identical carry ban, which was imposed shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSPRA v. Bruen. U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuan, appointed to the bench by Barack Obama in 2013, will hear arguments from Maryland Shall Issue and attorneys for Montgomery County starting at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, and while the case doesn’t implicate SB 1 directly, it’s hard to imagine that it would fare any better in the courts if Montgomery County’s sweeping “gun-free zones” are put on hold.

Still, don’t expect anti-gun zealots like Waldstreicher and Ferguson to be dissuaded from their attempt to disarm law-abiding citizens, even if the court puts the kibosh on Montgomery County’s infringements. The MSI lawsuit taking on those local infringements is likely to be just the opening round in a much bigger fight over the right to bear arms in Maryland, and one that will likely continue until the Supreme Court weighs in on the absurdly broad “sensitive places” proposed by anti-gun Democrats across the country.

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