A new bill passed in Montgomery County, Maryland makes it illegal to possess a firearm in or near public places, including schools, parks, libraries, healthcare facilities and places of worship. The bill affects those with Maryland State Police-issued wear and carry permits.
The Montgomery County City Council unanimously passed Bill 21-22E on Nov. 15 to remove the exemption for Wear & Carry permit holders from the county’s ban on firearms in or within 100 years of a place of public assembly, according to the NRA. The bill was signed into law Monday.
The NRA noted that citizens with a Wear & Carry permit have undergone gun training, have submitted their fingerprints to state police and passed thorough background checks. But, members of the county council claim that taking away gun rights from these individuals will increase public safety (via NRA-ILA):
Council members claim that these carry restrictions are needed for public safety due to recent instances of criminals misusing firearms, but they do not cite a single instance of a W&C permit holder being a perpetrator. Violent criminals already violate existing laws by illegally possessing and carrying firearms and can already be prosecuted if caught. The Council has provided no explanation as to how their proclamation disarming W&C permit holders will disarm these criminals.
Maryland Shall Issue, a Second Amendment rights group based in Annapolis, plans to sue Montgomery County for passing the bill, according to Bethesda Magazine. Mark Pennak, president of the organization, said the legal challenge should come “as no surprise.”
Pennak told Bethesda Magazine that he is “confident” that his organization will win in court after the Supreme Court’s decision in June striking down an unconstitutional New York gun law, which Townhall covered. The New York law would have required citizens seeking a permit to show “proper cause” to carry a weapon.
In the ruling for the case, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, Justice Clarence Thomas penned the 6-3 majority opinion. Thomas wrote that the Second Amendment should not be treated differently than other rights outlined in the Bill of Rights.
The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for self defense. New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment in that it prevents law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
“They’re [Montgomery County] not going to get away with it, because the Supreme Court’s decision with Bruen makes sure there’s a right to carry with a [wear and carry] permit,” Pennak said. “And this bill basically eviscerates that right.”