Gov. Moore announces plan to sign gun-control bills

MARYLAND – Governor Wes Moore says he is planning to sign gun-control measures approved by lawmakers in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year.

The high court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen ended a requirement similar to a Maryland law for people to demonstrate a particular need to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public. One of the measure removes the “good and substantial reason” language from Maryland law that the court found unconstitutional in the Bruen case, however, the Maryland General Assembly, controlled by Democrats, tightened gun laws in other respects. Lawmakers passed a bill that would prevent someone from carrying a concealed handgun in certain areas. This bill would generally prohibit a person from wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun in an “area for children or vulnerable individuals” or in a “special purpose area”. A person could not carry a handgun in a preschool or prekindergarten facility, on their grounds, in a primary or secondary school, or in a healthcare facility.

Officials define a special purpose area as a location licensed to sell or dispense alcohol or cannabis, a stadium, museum, racetrack, or casino. The bill also prohibits a person from wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm in a government or public infrastructure area if the area displays a clear sign at the main entrance, indicating that it is not allowed.

Moore says that more needs to be done “to address the issue of violence in our society”.

“And we have to address the ease in which people are able to get firearms because we know how much that is impacting the basic freedoms of every single Marylander, and that is something that is not going to stand as long as I’m the governor,” Moore said.

A person would also not be allowed to bring a firearm onto someone else’s property unless the owner has either posted a clear sign that it is permissible or given the person express permission. The provision would not apply to law enforcement officers, correctional officers, or military members. Opponents say the legislation violates the Second Amendment and they have pledged to challenge the legislation in court. Mark Pennak. president of Maryland Shall Issue, says he planned a swift challenge to the measure that spells out particular areas where handguns would be banned.

Pennak says the legislation infringes on Second Amendment rights of permit holders by violating a general right to carry a handgun for self-defense in public outside of the home.

“The court could not have been clearer, and what they have respectively done with the enactment of SB1 is truncate that right far beyond what the Supreme Court had permitted in Bruen,” Pennak said.

Pennak is also criticizing disqualifying factors for handgun permits in the bill, saying the bill creates a disqualifier for getting a handgun permit for misdemeanors that potentially do not include jail time.

The measure also increases the fee for an initial application for a handgun permit from $75 to $125. The fee for renewal or subsequent application for a handgun permit will increase from $50 to $75, and a fee for a duplicate or modified handgun permit would go from $10 to $20.

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