Maryland – -(AmmoLand.com)- In July, the Montgomery County Council proposed a truly draconian piece of legislation: Bill 21-22. That Bill sought to defy the US Supreme Court’s opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen by effectively banning the possession, transport, sale, and transfer of firearms in any place (public or private) in the County where people “may assemble.”
As proposed, the Bill was specifically designed to include in its bans wear and carry permit holders by repealing the existing exemption for such permit holders currently found in the County Code. On July 26th, a hearing was held on the Bill and the County Council heard a great deal of testimony against it from MSI, NAAGA, and other well-spoken Marylanders, all of whom warned the Council to abandon this misguided and unconstitutional Bill. After a hiatus of several months, the Bill has reemerged. It is now scheduled to be reviewed by the Council’s Public Safety Committee at 9:30 am on Monday (10/31) morning. This Monday session is not a hearing where testimony can be accepted, but it will be streamed via YouTube HERE.
The Committee’s senior legislative attorney created a report outlining suggested amendments to the Bill. Interestingly, the report acknowledges many of the problems MSI had pointed out in its written and oral testimony. However, while the amendments would eliminate the bans in all places where people “may assemble,” the amendments would still criminalize the mere possession of a firearm, with or without a carry permit, in or within 100 yards of any publicly or privately owned:
- place of worship
- recreational facility
- community health center, including any health care facility or community-based program licensed by the Maryland Department of Health
- long-term facility, including any licensed nursing home, group home, or care home
- multipurpose exhibition facility, such as a fairgrounds or conference center
- childcare facility
- It’d also criminalize firearms possession by any person (including permit holders) in:
- government building, including any place owned by or under the control of the County
- polling place
- legislative assembly, and
- a gathering of individuals to collectively express their constitutional right to protest or assemble
The report also suggests amendments to the County’s ordinance concerning privately made firearms, in an (unsuccessful) attempt to make the County’s existing ban on such firearms consistent with state and federal law with respect to privately made firearms (which the County insists on mischaracterizing as “ghost guns”). Even with the proposed amendments, the legislation would still violate the Second Amendment in multiple ways under the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen. And it would remain in conflict with State and federal laws governing privately owned firearms. We hope the County comes to its senses.
Other Legal News: MSI has had an extremely busy and successful summer on the legal front:
Call v. Jones III (May-Issue Carry Permits)
With the US Supreme Court’s opinion in NYSRPA v. Bruen finding subjective ‘proper cause’ requirements for licenses to carry handguns in public unconstitutional, the Court singled out Maryland Public Safety Art. § 5-306(a)(6)(ii) as unlawful. Since Governor Hogan’s July 5th announcement that the “good and substantial reason” requirement will no longer be enforced, every otherwise qualified person became eligible for unrestricted permits, leaving nothing at issue in the case. The parties jointly requested the 4th Circuit to dismiss the case as moot, which it did a few weeks ago. The State quite literally folded and as many of you know, permits are being issued to the public at large without needing to demonstrate any sort of need.
Special thanks go to the Second Amendment Foundation, and the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, who led the fight in this case.
Maryland Shall Issue v. Anne Arundel County (Dealer storage requirements) – A WIN for Marylanders!
Anne Arundel County had passed an ordinance earlier this year that would have threatened County firearms and ammunition dealers with onerous and vague security requirements as a condition of doing business within the County. The ordinance also would have levied harsh fines and other penalties against firearms dealers not in compliance. Citizens have a Second Amendment right to acquire arms and dealers have the ancillary Second Amendment right to sell them. MSI and four dealers brought suit against the County under State preemption law and the County Council responded by giving up. Specifically, the County amended the ordinance to provide that the security requirements would only be enforced if the State-wide law, HB 1091, passed by the General Assembly in 2022, were enjoined or repealed. At that point, the case became moot and the court dismissed the suit on that basis. MSI’s efforts forced the County to back off. Kudos to Cindy’s Hot Shots, Worth-A-Shot, Field Traders, and Pasadena Arms for standing up as named plaintiffs.
Maryland Shall Issue v. Anne Arundel County (First Amendment)
Not to be outdone with its first attempt at punishing lawful commerce, Anne Arundel County also passed a measure that compels dealers to display and distribute County literature asserting that there is a causal link between firearms access and suicide. MSI and the four dealers filed suit in federal district court alleging that the County requirements imposed “compelled speech” in violation of the First Amendment. In response to a motion for a temporary restraining order and motion for a preliminary injunction, the County suspended its requirements. Apparently feeling overwhelmed by the First Amendment issues, the County sought the help of Everytown lawyers from New York City, who are now taking the lead in the case. Discovery was completed earlier this month and motions for summary judgment have been filed by both parties. Briefing will be completed by mid-November. We think the court will act promptly so we may have a decision relatively soon. Stay tuned.
Maryland Shall Issue v. Montgomery County (Bill 4-21)
MSI brought suit against Montgomery County in State Court on State preemption grounds back in late May of 2021 challenging the enactment of Bill 4-21. That Bill banned privately made firearms and banned as well the mere possession, transfer, sale or transport of firearms in any place (public or private) where people “may assemble” (which is pretty much everywhere). After the County unsuccessfully tried to remove the case to federal court, the State court held a hearing on cross motions for summary judgment in July 2022. However, by that time Bruen had been decided by the Supreme Court, thus enabling MSI to file an amended complaint alleging that the ordinance also violated the Second Amendment, as construed in Bruen. The County once again removed that amended complaint and the case is currently pending in federal district court where the County is seeking to hold the Second Amendment claim in indefinite abeyance pending adjudication of the State law claims. MSI has vigorously opposed that approach and has argued that the federal court is obligated to consider the Second Amendment claim first. That issue remains before the court, but we expect a decision soon on that issue. Stay tuned!
Hulbert v. Pope (Wrongful Arrest, First, Fourth Amendment Violations)
This case is fully briefed before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and it is a matter of time before the Court takes action. The case was briefly touched on in a video by Audit the Audit as the case will likely set precedent for other cases within the Fourth Circuit. Briefing is complete and we are awaiting either a decision by the court of appeals or for the court of appeals to set an argument date.
Maryland Shall Issue v. Hogan (Handgun Qualification License Requirement)
MSI’s longest-running case has heated up. In this case, MSI and plaintiffs have challenged the constitutionality of the HQL requirement under the Second Amendment. Plaintiffs initially lost the case on standing grounds in district court, but the Fourth Circuit reversed that ruling and remanded for a determination of the merits. On remand, the district court sustained the statute under intermediate scrutiny. By that time, Bruen was pending in the Supreme Court and the Fourth Circuit, over the State’s objection, agreed to hold the appeal in abeyance pending a decision in Bruen. Bruen was decided in June of 2022 and held that the courts may not apply intermediate scrutiny in Second Amendment cases. The appeal was immediately reactivated and the parties have almost completed briefing, with plaintiffs’ reply brief due in mid-November. The case is tentatively scheduled to be argued the first week of December.
There’s no shortage of post-Bruen cases going on elsewhere. You can follow along at the case tracking page HERE.
New Guides on Carry Permits and Maryland’s Weapons Laws
You may have noticed already, but we’ve prepared two guides, one on Maryland Wear and Carry Permits and another on the State’s firearms laws. These guides are full of the hard-to-find information and are a “must-read” for every permit holder or applicant for a wear and carry permit. Be sure to check them out.
About Maryland Shall Issue
Maryland Shall Issue is an all-volunteer, non-partisan effort dedicated to the preservation and advancement of all gunowners’ rights in Maryland, with a primary goal of CCW reform to allow all law-abiding citizens the right to carry a concealed weapon; and to the education of the community to the awareness that ‘shall issue’ laws have, in all cases, resulting in decreased rates of violent crime.