Maryland gun control effort shifts

Maryland gun control effort shifts
concealed carry holster

Maryland is one of the more anti-gun states in the nation. It’s passed numerous laws seeking to restrain gun ownership in a supposed effort to curb violent crime in cities like Baltimore.

Clearly, none of them have worked.

Yet, as per usual with gun control advocates, they simply believe they didn’t wish hard enough pass enough laws yet.

So, they’re trying to pass still more, and that’s going to lead to a fight. In fact, that fight seems to be starting now.

Darlene Rainey sat outside an Annapolis hearing room on Tuesday, wondering if this would be the time that politicians would listen to her story and take action to cut down on the number of powerful guns in the community.

“We’re losing too many. There’s so many guns on the streets,” Rainey said. “At what point are you going to say no?”

Rainey’s son, Lamont W. Adair Jr., was murdered in Prince George’s County in 2018. Ever since, she’s been an advocate for justice not only for her son’s life, but also for laws that she hopes will keep guns out of the hands of those who would harm others.

She’s been to press conferences and rallies, and on Tuesday she was at the Maryland Senate, where the Judicial Proceedings Committee considered several bills to restrict how people can obtain and use guns.

Rainey joined dozens of others who wore matching red T-shirts representing Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, two groups that favor laws they believe will prevent gun violence. Also milling about were opponents of the bills clutching bright orange tote bags bearing the logo of the National Rifle Association.

That’s how the article starts, so of course you can tell this will be an unbiased report over the effort, right?

I mean, it starts with the sad story of a mother who lost her son and is just trying to prevent such a fate befalling anyone else. What’s wrong with that?

I’m sure the fact that it’s seemingly designed to prejudice the reader against pro-Second Amendment efforts.

Yet this is where we are.

Interestingly, though, it looks like the opposition has already made changes to the proposed bill. Maryland’s initial proposal would have basically banned concealed carry almost everywhere in the state by banning the lawful carry of a firearm within 100 feet of any “public accomodation,” which included retail stores, hotels, restaurants, and pretty much anything else open to the public.

Democrats want this bill to pass so much that they’ve toned it down quite a bit.

But the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, said Tuesday that he’s revamped the bill, which has been given the designation of Senate Bill 1, an indicator of its importance to Democratic leaders.

Instead of the broad ban on carrying guns in many public spaces, he offered a revised version that: allows private property owners to decide whether or not to allow guns; prohibits concealed guns in “highly sensitive” spaces such as preschools, courthouses, hospitals, libraries and stadiums; and prohibits the state from issuing concealed carry permits to people who have a “propensity for violence,” substance use disorder or mental illness.

“For me personally as a lawmaker and as a father, it’s less of a statement and more of a question: What kind of world do I want to live in? What kind of state do I want to raise my children in?” Waldstreicher said. “A state awash in guns, armed to the teeth and drowning in concealed carry permits? … That’s not a world I want to live in. That’s not a state I want to raise my children in. I won’t.”

In theory, this is a much better bill.

That’s not to say this is remotely acceptable in any meaningful way.

For one thing, we still have yet to see how property owners will be asked to act. Will guns be permitted anywhere except for where owners have opted out, as in most states, or will it be like New York were property owners must actively approve of the lawful carry of a firearm?

That’s the question for Maryland on that one, but it’s far from the only issue.

Another one–one of many, I might add–is the prohibition against certain people getting permits. Barring permits from being issued to “people who have a ‘propensity for violence,’ substance use disorder or mental illness” sounds good on paper, but what do those terms mean?

An assault charge could be a sign of a violent personality or a sign that someone had a single mental lapse. “Substance abuse disorder” is pretty nebulous, too. Will a couple of DUIs be sufficient evidence of that?

Then there’s the whole “mental illness” thing.

I’m frankly sick of this. If someone isn’t mentally ill enough to be declared “mentally defective” as federal law states it, then they’re not mentally ill enough to be barred from carrying a firearm. The term “mental illness” covers everything from mild depress and anxiety to schitzophrenia. There’s a lot of land between those hedges. Where is Maryland going to draw the line?

Frankly, my hope is that despite the softer bill, it still dies a horrible, feiry death in the legislature. Unfortunately, this is Maryland, so I’m not holding out a lot of hope.