The state of Maryland isn’t a bad place, so long as you exclude Baltimore from any crime statistics. Add that city in and things look very different.
The fact that the city also has an oversized impact on the politics of the state as a whole has made it a pretty anti-gun state.
And now, they’re treading the path set by New York in the wake of the Bruen decision. The Senate there passed a very similar concealed-carry measure.
The Maryland Senate passed the controversial Gun Safety Act of 2023, which limits the circumstances where someone can carry a weapon even with a concealed carry permit, on Monday evening following a spirited debate.
Initially sponsored by Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery and then-Sen. Susan Lee, D-Montgomery, now secretary of state, SB 1 would tighten state gun laws in an effort to combat gun violence and in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that rendered some Maryland gun laws unconstitutional. Following friendly amendments on the Senate floor, the bill now has 24 sponsors.
If enacted, the bill would make the licensing process for wear and carry permits stricter, prohibit an individual from knowingly wearing, carrying or transporting a firearm on private property without consent, and prohibit guns “under certain circumstances” and in “certain locations,” including courthouses, hospitals, schools and areas where alcohol is served.
Waldstreicher said this bill was drafted in direct response to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, the case in June that decided that law abiding citizens do not need a “good and substantial” reason to be permitted to carry a concealed firearm and that any “proper cause to carry” requirement, used in several states, including Maryland, was unconstitutional according to the 14th Amendment.
SB 1 was initially written to prohibit individuals, including those with a wear and carry permit, from bringing a firearm within 100 feet of certain public places, including restaurants, stadiums, hotels or retailers, according to the original bill.
Now, it should be noted that the 100-foot rule has been removed. Instead, it’s been replaced with some specific locations such as preschools, hospitals, and courthouses.
Those three places, at least, are far less contentious than being unable to carry a firearm within 100 feet of pretty much anything.
That doesn’t make this a good bill, though. It just makes it a smidge less sucky.
The bill now goes to the House, where it’s unlikely to meet significant resistance unless someone thinks it doesn’t go far enough or something. From there, it will likely become law.
At that point, things get interesting.
It’s obvious that the law will be challenged in federal court. The 100-foot rule would make overturning it obvious, but even as things currently stand, there’s a decent chance the courts will see the law as a huge problem post-Bruen.
I know that lawmakers say this was a response to Bruen, but it’s really not. What they did was look at what Bruen seemed to say rather than what it actually said. I think they’re going to find that they went way beyond what Bruen ruled was permissible.
Take the rule prohibiting the carry of a firearm on private property with express permission, as an example.
In no other way do we accept the idea that one needs permission to exercise their rights on private property. Property owners arguably have a right to restrict your actions on their property–they can ask you to leave if you say something they don’t like, for example–but there’s not really a blanket prohibition without explicit permission.
And I suspect that’s going to be the undoing of this measure.