2023 Maryland Legislative Session’s Effects on the 2A Community

_The following article was submitted by Delegates Ryan Nawrocki & Kathy Szeliga (District 7A) and Lauren Arikan (District 7B)-

Anti-Second Amendment advocates in Annapolis were busy again this year. They have made a determined and concentrated attempt to pass unconstitutional legislation after the Supreme Court’s NYSRPA v. Bruen ruling abolished the State’s restrictions on wear and carry permits, otherwise known as concealed carry permits.

The Maryland General Assembly passed two bills of interest detailed below.

House Bill 824: Public Safety – Regulated Firearms – Possession and Permits to Carry, Wear, and Transport a Handgun. This is a $49.5 million tax on people with wear and carry permits. HB824 increases the fees to get a handgun wear and carry permit from $75 to $125, a renewal from $50 to $75, and a duplicate from $10 to $20. It also unnecessarily increases the training costs and requirements for permit holders. HB 824 includes lengthy reporting of permit holder data to the governor and general assembly by the State Police.

Senate Bill 1 – Criminal Law – Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting Firearms – Restrictions. This bill is a de facto firearm ban. It violates the 2nd Amendment by creating gun-free zones across much of the state of Maryland. SB1 prohibits firearms in most places, including non-public schools, hospitals, government buildings, and “special purpose areas” such as amusement parks, stadiums, racetracks, museums, and anywhere that serves alcohol, including restaurants. Permit holders know they cannot drink alcohol while carrying a firearm. SB1 also prohibits having or transporting legal firearms on private property without the owner’s express consent. Penalties for violations are severe even when no crime has occurred.

We voted against these bills because they violate the Constitution and restrict the rights of law- abiding citizens. These laws do nothing to reduce crimes committed by someone illegally possessing a gun. None of the Republican Caucus bills passed out of their House Committees including the No Bail for Violent Criminals Act of 2023 which would have prohibited bail for an individual charged with a crime of violence if the individual has pending charges for a previous crime of violence.

The bill also prohibits bail for an individual charged with a crime of violence if they have had a prior conviction for a crime of violence and the individual completed their period of parole and probation within years of the subsequent charges.

We repeatedly hear from frustrated citizens that no meaningful legislation gets passed to stop crime. Instead, bills taking away the 2nd amendment rights of law-abiding citizens are always the focus in Annapolis. We are heartbroken to watch crime continue to fester in our state.

Until recently, Maryland laws were so restrictive that less than .19 percent of residents were approved for a permit to carry each year. After the Supreme Court affirmed that the individual right to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense is protected under the Second Amendment, Maryland deceitfully responded by amending its laws and concocting a scheme where law-abiding
Marylanders cannot legally carry anywhere in the state.

On behalf of its members and in partnership with the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition, Maryland Shall Issue and three individual plaintiffs are challenging unconstitutional aspects of SB 1, the so-called “Gun Safety Act of 2023” in the US District Court for the District of Maryland. SB 1 effectively nullifies the general right to carry in public; for carry permit holders confirmed by the Supreme Court’s decision NYSRPA v. Bruen. It does so by banning firearms in a whole host of locations otherwise open to the public, including places like stores and shops, restaurants, museums, and healthcare facilities. The suit also challenges the general ban on possession of firearms on public transit owned or controlled by the Maryland Transit Administration and in the tens of thousands of acres of woodlands in state parks, state forests, and state Chesapeake forest lands.

Maryland Shall Issue (MSI) and the NRA separately have challenged SB1 in court. SB1 may or may not get an emergency halt or be preliminarily enjoined as it makes it through the courts. SB1 takes effect October 1, 2023.

We believe that self-defense is an inalienable right, handed down by God, and the natural right of every living being. For women, a firearm can offer them protection from a much stronger physical attacker. We want to thank Susannah Kipke and Katherine Novotny for stepping up and courageously being the lead plaintiffs in the NRA and MSI lawsuits against Governor Wes Moore.

We know that they will be great spokeswomen for the cause and staunch supporters of our constitutional rights!

Benjamin Joseph

Benjamin Joesph has covered news in Eastern Baltimore County since 2006. He started as a reporter with the original East County Times in 2006. He started East Baltco News and later Eastcountytimes.com in 2022.