Updated Jan. 11–Attorney General Doug Gansler has so far succeeded in delaying enforcement of a 2010 decision that struck down a provision in Maryland’s handgun law, which requires a “good and substantial reason” to obtain a Permit to Carry. The Federal District Court in Maryland ruled in 2010 that the state requirement was a violation of Second Amendment Rights.
Del. Mike Smigiel, R-Cecil, wants to make the ongoing court battle moot with a bill that removes the restriction and establishes competency requirements to carry a handgun.
“HB38 seeks to establish a need of certification for those wishing to obtain permits to carry,” Smigiel told the Spy on Thursday. “The bill would also repeal the unconstitutional requirement that qualified Maryland applicants establish an additional “good and substantial reason” to be issued a Permit to Carry.”
Last July, U.S. District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg lifted a stay he granted the Maryland Attorney General in March that delayed enforcement of the 2010 ruling–until a challenge could be heard in 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond.
The 4th Circuit granted another stay in August and heard the case in late October. The court has yet to rule.
A similar case was heard around the same time in the 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals in New York that challenged that state’s “good or substantial reason” provision, which is nearly identical to Maryland’s restrictive carry law. The 2nd Circuit upheld New York’s handgun statute on Nov.27.
“We have filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation. The SAF is the co-plaintiff in the Maryland and New York cases.
“The decision is a temporary situation and we have confidence that the Supreme Court will rule in our favor, and the “good cause” statute in Maryland will no longer be in effect,” Gottlieb told the Spy in a phone interview on Thursday.
Smigiel’s bill would require a permit applicant to show competence with a handgun using 10 criteria.
1. Participation in an organized shooting competition approved by the department of state police
2. Current membership in or an honorable discharge from the armed forces of the united states or the national guard;
3. Current employment with or retirement from a local, state, or federal law enforcement agency;
4. Completion of a hunter safety course recognized by any state;
5. Completion of a firearms safety training course approved by the Maryland Police Training Commission or a similar agency of another state;
6. Completion of a firearms safety training course approved by a nationally recognized training organization;
7. Completion of a firearms safety training course offered by a law enforcement agency, higher education institution, or public or private institution that uses instructors certified by the national rifle association to teach the course
8. Possession of a valid out–of–state permit to carry a concealed handgun for which the applicant had to complete a firearms safety training course;
9. Current or former possession of a permit to carry, wear, or transport a handgun issued under this subtitle, unless the permit was revoked
10. Possession of a state qualified handgun instructor certification issued by the department of state police.
An applicant cannot have exhibited a propensity for violence in the past and must be free of criminal convictions that carry a sentence of more than one year. The applicant must have no criminal drug convictions and must not be addicted to drugs or alcohol.
In the video below, Smigiel, a former Marine, demonstrates his marksmanship.
But with more restrictive gun bills sponsored by Democrats this session, the “Democratic majority is in no mood to loosen any guns restrictions currently in force” in the wake of the recent school shootings in Connecticut, said a Democratic lawmaker who asked to be anonymous. “[Smigiel’s] bill has no chance.”
Sen. Brian Frosh, D-Montgomery, who recently announced a run for Attorney General, will offer a bill that restricts the capacity of a magazine clip to 10 bullets. He said he wanted to reduce the number even more but said he’s looking for a number that can pass the legislature.
“I’d go for six if we could get it, but I’d like something less than 20, which is the current Maryland law,” Frosh told the Spy on Thursday. “I’d like something that could pass that would be a reasonable limit [and] I think we have an opportunity this year that we may not have again for many more.”
“We need to get something done to protect public safety, and I’m for anything reasonable that will protect the public,” Frosh said.
A correction to this story: Yesterday it was reported that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld Maryland’s handgun statute, but is was actually the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York that had upheld New York’s restrictive carry law, while a ruling in the Maryland case has yet to be decided. Both cases are being challenged by the Second Amendment Foundation’s attorney, Alan Gura. The Spy regrets the error.
Letters to Editor
Joe Diamond says
“Mort, we gotta cancel the bank robery.”
“No gun permit…no gun…no robbery.”
“Oh, ok. If that is the law then so be it. No bank robbery. I guess we will have to just beat on helpless victims since we can’t have guns to shoot them.”
“Maybe we could just go somewhere where dangerous criminals can have guns.”
“Ok, lets do it!”
Thomas E. Taylor says
In the early 50’s I was a certified NRA instructor while I was still attending Rock Hall High School. With the encouragement and help of the town, county and state law folks and game wardens we started a rifle team. There were both boys and girls (a couple were better rifle shots than we boys) involved. While there was no live fire training in/on school property, there was safety, range procedure and recommended weapon handling in the gym. If any of those members committed any robberies, or worse crimes using firearms, I never heard (I left for the Navy in 55 and returned in 83). Is there no one certified in these agencies who is trained to teach a safety course that would be available to anyone, regardless of age in addition to the hunter safety courses currently available?? If no one in these offices is available, would the same agencies aid a civilian (if that is the right term) who would teach safety courses?? Every one does not want to hunt, but I believe everyone should know how to handle weapons safely whether they are a gun enthusiast or not. Note that I am not jockying for a teaching job, as I am too long in the tooth. Tom
Gren Whitman says
Weapons Control Check List:
Reinstate ban on assault weapons (check);
Set up national database (check);
Tighten background checks of gun buyers (check);
Regulate so-called gun shows (check);
Ban high-capacity magazines (check);
Put Jim Brady and Gabby Giffords in charge of enforcement (check).
David Eaton says
And the question of the day is: How does any of this ‘protect’ the citizens of our fair State? To be sure, if this ever came about all of the LAW-ABIDING citizens would comply but, sadly, the criminal element (who by definition do not obey any laws but their own) will not comply. One question that MUST be asked with regard to any restrictive gun law: Does it apply to the Law Enforcement Community? If the answer is “NO” then the logical follow-up would be: Why not? After all, if your Socialist dreams ever come about (the taking of all firearms) then of what use would the Law Enforcement Community have for guns?
Gren Whitman says
Here’s an inconvenient fact: The “law enforcement community” enthusiastically supports reasonable and sensible gun controls.
Robert Sweetman says
Maybe in the “Higher Echelons” or the “Politically Expedient” levels you will read or hear that….
I’d have to say however that just about every Law Enforcement officer I’ve spoken with doesn’t
agree with your “inconvenient fact”….
Gren Whitman says
Allow me to suggest that “every law enforcement officer I’ve spoken with” is not a credible citation.
“Every” means you might have spoken with two officers.
Robert Sweetman says
Dee Hodges says
Growing up, I learned to shoot at the rifle range in the woods in back of my school. It was a private school. My father was teacher and coach. I was 7 years old. I shot in many NRA matches and won some of them. In high school, we used to go on Friday nights to Montgomery Blair HS in Silver Spring to practice. They had a beautiful ten point indoor smallbore rifle range. in the 70s, in the wake of the Vietnam War, ranges were closed and teams disbanded in many high schools in MD, including City College in Baltimore City. Some, it was said, had poor ventilation. Mostly, it was the political correctness of the time.
But the point is that during that time, there were guns, with appropriate adult access to them. Schools were not an open invitation to mayhem for the mentally ill. With the laws today, they are virtually “free fire zones.” No guns, no protection. In this case, one might ask just who the deranged are: the shooter who plans his attack where he expects no opposition or the legislators who have created this ridiculous situation.
Joe Diamond says
The wake of Vietnam was actually a short period where the piles of bodies had been counted and an assessment of national progress was being made. The military industrial complex had been going full tilt for ten years and the country ended up with another memorial on the mall in Washington. Thousands and thousands of returning soldiers needed help. They were largely ignored and even blamed for the carnage committed in our name. Amertica learned about free fire zones on the evening news and were ashamed.
Over time the Veterans Administration largely ignored that wake of Vietnam. More to the point the federal government stopped returning money to the states to operate mental health facilities. People who possibly could have been controlled in a mental facility were released or never admitted. Surprise, surprise; they committed crimes that either got them shot by cops or incarcerated for long periods. Street drugs took their toll.
I’d like to hear more about the appropriate adult access to guns during the period. I’m sure Geroge Wallace, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and John Lennon would agree with you that guns were just too hard for deranged shooters to acquire.
Stop listening to the evening news. It’s gettin’ to ya.
Joe Diamond says
Forgot Martin Luther King and Harvey Milk.
David Eaton says
Del. Smigiel’s bill (HB 38) leaves much to be desired. For example:
1. The State Police could be very subjective in its approval ; e. g., it could not approve any NRA or SASS competitions while at the same time approve only competitions that are held by State Police organizations.
2. Not everyone is in or has been in the military.
3. Not everyone is in or has been in a local, state or federal law enforcement agency.
4. Not every is a hunter.
5. As with #1 above, the MPTC could disapprove any but their own courses and limit their courses to law enforcement personnel only.
6. Who will judge what constitutes a “nationally recognized training organization”?
9. This depends on reason for revocation.
10. As with #1 above, the state police could restrict their handgun instructor certification to members of the State police only (or they could include local law enforcement agencies).
It would be very difficult for anyone to get permit if s/he had to ‘pass’ all ten of the bill’s requirements let alone just some of them.
Joe Diamond says
There is a problem with gun legislation. This law, your thoughtful critique and all other legislation on the subject is just paper. Whatever is produced by the legislature will be obeyed by the law abiding, honest citizens. The gun lobby uses the Constitution to continue to demand access to guns for self defense. While all this rhetoric is interesting I think the real issue is what can the police enforce? Extending from that is the question…if they successfully enforce the law will it make anyone safer?
I think the theme of this bill is more like the Australian process. There they pretty much disarmed the population and disallow self protection as a reason for carrying a gun. Thery report good success working on limiting access to guns. With a combination of buy backs and voluntary turn ins they removed the guns.
Part of their thinking is that past performance is not a predictor of future actions. The obvious menaces are often snatched up in existing procedures but we still have the real murderous offender with a clean background and no predictors of violent behavior until the violent event takes place. The thought there is no gun…no massacre.
I agree….that legislation is not ready for prime time.
Robert Sweetman says
From an article in the Wall Street Journal:
Six weeks after the Dunblane massacre in 1996, Martin Bryant, an Australian with a lifelong history of violence, attacked tourists at a Port Arthur prison site in Tasmania with two semiautomatic rifles. He killed 35 people and wounded 21 others.
At the time, Australia’s guns laws were stricter than the United Kingdom’s. In lieu of the requirement in Britain that an applicant for permission to purchase a gun have a “good reason,” Australia required a “genuine reason.” Hunting and protecting crops from feral animals were genuine reasons—personal protection wasn’t.
With new Prime Minister John Howard in the lead, Australia passed the National Firearms Agreement, banning all semiautomatic rifles and semiautomatic and pump-action shotguns and imposing a more restrictive licensing system on other firearms. The government also launched a forced buyback scheme to remove thousands of firearms from private hands. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and Sept. 30, 1997, the government purchased and destroyed more than 631,000 of the banned guns at a cost of $500 million.
To what end? While there has been much controversy over the result of the law and buyback, Peter Reuter and Jenny Mouzos, in a 2003 study published by the Brookings Institution, found homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.
According to their study, the use of handguns rather than long guns (rifles and shotguns) went up sharply, but only one out of 117 gun homicides in the two years following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement used a registered gun. Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up. They reported “a modest reduction in the severity” of massacres (four or more indiscriminate homicides) in the five years since the government weapons buyback. These involved knives, gas and arson rather than firearms.
In 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology reported a decrease of 9% in homicides and a one-third decrease in armed robbery since the 1990s, but an increase of over 40% in assaults and 20% in sexual assaults.
What to conclude? Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres. The two major countries held up as models for the U.S. don’t provide much evidence that strict gun laws will solve our problems.
Ms. Malcolm, a professor of law at George Mason University Law School, is the author of several books including “Guns and Violence: The English Experience,” (Harvard, 2002).
Joe Diamond says
Great minds go around in the same circles again. Your post is what I have been watching. There are many conclusions or summaries of the results. The Christian Science Monitor covered the story with the conclusion that Australia has not had a mass shooting since taking the guns away…..so it must have been a good thing. Elsewhere……..it wasn’t much of a problem anyway.
Worth taking a look,
Bill Briner says
I think the intent of that list of criteria is that you have to meet ONE of the requirements, not every requirement. That would make much more sense because it permits people of different handgun skills/knowledge an opportunity to either prove their ability or take adequate training to get to that point. For example, ex-military should have already received proper firearm safety training while an average citizen may not have any formal training other than in the back yard. Since it’s undocumented for some people they require some form of formal training to meet one of the criteria.
I’m all for it. I believe strongly in the right to carry and having some measure people must meet to be considered “safe” is ok with me. I am former military so I have already received safety training with weapons, but it would be nice to know the non-military citizens have at least had some skilled, trained and knoweldgeable trainer providing a curriculum of basic weapon safety before those people set out to the same locations my family may be at before they’re allowed to carry a loaded weapon.
Michael Hildebrand says
Maryland is surrounded by “shall issue” states and there seems to be no out brake in violence. There is no reason why Maryland should not go that route. I guess the people that are afraid of law abiding citizens carrying are the criminals and since they all work in Annapolis, it will never pass.
Joel Brandes says
It seems, to me, that we should be more concerned with making it hazzardous for the criminal to commit a crime rather than making it difficult for the honest citizen to defend themselves. Would trained law abiding citizens be considered “A WELL REGULATED MILITIA”? The Sherrif of each county might establish a group of volunteers and train them to assist in protecting the citizenry. God save us from politicans claiming to protect us.
Teck Jenkins says
All this rules still make an average non military non law enforcement civilian unable to defend themselves. So its still no help. People need to know that if the gun laws pass they will become a victim without any choice.