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OPINION

Maryland Goes Against the Tide on Concealed Carry

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Despite last year’s landmark Supreme Court ruling overturning may-issue gun laws, Maryland lawmakers essentially banned concealed carry. 

Newly-sworn in Governor Wes Moore (D-MD) recently signed the so-called Gun Safety Act of 2023 (or Senate Bill 1) into law prohibiting concealed carry throughout much of the Old Line State. 

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"Gun violence is tearing apart the fabric of our communities, not just through mass shootings but through shootings that are happening in each of our communities far too often," Moore said at a bill-signing ceremony. "In Maryland, we refuse to say these problems are too big or too tough." 

Moore added, "We will act, and that's exactly what today represents."

This move undermines gains made after last June’s New York State Rifle & Pistol Association vs. Bruen ruling, which determined Americans have a Second Amendment right to conceal carry outside their homes. Since 2021, requests for Maryland concealed carry applications have significantly increased. As of May 2023, over 125,000 Marylanders have applied for carry permits for the first time. This trend should be welcomed, not discouraged. 

Among the new law’s egregious stipulations is permit holders will be prohibited “from wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm onto certain property unless the owner or owner's agent has given certain permission.”

Will SB1 pass legal muster? The courts will likely disagree. As The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski observes: “The new law and legal brouhaha it has spawned come in the wake of similar Bruen-response bills in New York and New Jersey. Those restrictions, which almost entirely eliminate the ability of residents who have obtained permits actually to carry a gun for self-defense, have fared poorly in court thus far. Multiple federal judges have ruled they are unconstitutional, and at least two Supreme Court justices have indicated they likely agree. A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that most of the new “gun-free zones” New Jersey created in response to Bruen violate the Second Amendment under the standard the Supreme Court set in that case.” 

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This law will, again, require Marylanders to overcome obstacles to exercise their Second Amendment rights–especially as crime surges in cities like Baltimore and the counties bordering Washington, D.C.

The new law is expected to go into effect on October 1st, 2023. 

Gun control advocates shouldn’t pop the champagne just yet. There are various legal challenges currently underway. 

Maryland Shall Issue, in conjunction with Firearms Policy Center and Second Amendment Foundation, signed onto the Novotny v. Moore complaint. The group contends SB1 bans firearms in public spaces, including stores and shops, restaurants, museums, and healthcare facilities, and “public transit owned or controlled by the State Mass Transit Administration and in the tens of thousands of acres of woodlands in State parks, State forests, and State Chesapeake forest lands.” 

“SB1 was enacted for the avowed purpose of responding to the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle Pistol Association v. Bruen, 142 S.Ct. 2111 (2022), by restricting the locations that persons with Maryland wear and carry permits may legally exercise their constitutional right to wear, carry, or transport firearms,” reads the complaint. “It does so in ways that are fundamentally inconsistent with the Second Amendment as clearly articulated in the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen.”

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What’s the point of concealed carry if you have to divulge you’re doing it? That defeats its very stated purpose. Marylanders shouldn't encounter more obstacles when exercising their rights.

Sadly, Governor Wes Moore and his party harbor more disdain for their law-abiding constituents than actual perpetrators of crimes. How telling. It’s no surprise they’re creating a problem where none exists by criminalizing law-abiding folks instead of going after actual wrongdoers.

In the Crime Research Prevention Center’s most recent concealed carry study, permit holders were deemed very law-abiding–especially when contrasted with police officers.

“It is very rare for permit holders to violate the law,” the 2022 study observed. “In order to appreciate how incredibly rare these violations are, one needs to remember that there are over 22.0 million permit holders in the US. Indeed, it is impossible to think of any other group in the US that is anywhere near as law-abiding.”

It continued, “To get an idea of just how law-abiding concealed handgun permit holders are, we need only compare them to police. According to a study in Police Quarterly, police committed an average of 703 crimes per year from 2005 to 2007.33, 113 of these involved firearms violations. This is likely to be an underestimate since not all police crimes receive media coverage. The authors of the study may also have missed some media reports.”

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The Rand Corporation even concluded that shall-issue concealed carry laws don’t increase crime.

Maryland is going against the tide on concealed carry.

Shame on Annapolis for punishing 125,000 (and counting) residents like this. Not a good look for the new Moore administration. Let’s hope SB1 is blocked.

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