Maryland Joins Nationwide Gun Rights Trend after Electing More Republicans

By S.A. Miller, The Washington Times

Pro-gun rights lawmakers in Maryland are pushing back against some of the strictest firearms laws in the county with legislation that would expand concealed carry permits, declaring momentum from Republican gains in last year’s elections — including a GOP governor — in the deep-blue state and a national trend for making it easier for citizens to bear arms.

A bill working its way through the General Assembly would make self-defense adequate justification for obtaining a concealed carry permit. Under current law, applicants qualify only if a Maryland State Police investigation finds a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun, including a determination that the permit is “necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.”

Gun rights advocates argue that the criteria are overly subjective and have been used to prevent most Marylanders from qualifying for a permit.

“The only way basically to get a gun permit is to say that you carry large amounts of money,” said state Sen. Wayne Norman, the bill’s author. “It seems like a charade to me.”

If the measure is enacted, applicants still would have to meet other requirements, including passing a criminal background check and a screening for a history of addiction, alcoholism and violence.

State Police last year denied 189 concealed carry applications for failure to show good reason, compared with 16 for mental conditions, 14 for convicted felons, six for convicted drug criminals and one for propensity for violence, state records.

The legislation, designated Senate Bill 100, is scheduled for a hearing next month before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.

Another bill being debated would create reciprocity agreements for permit holders from other states to carry guns in Maryland.

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