New Maryland Gun Laws Now in Effect with Some Changes

Two Maryland guns laws are now in effect as of Sunday with a court ordering minor changes as the case continues.

A WBAL report highlighted a number of laws that went into effect yesterday across Maryland. Two of the eight laws highlighted are concerning gun rights and are currently being challenged in federal court. Both laws affect an individual’s ability to, “wear, carry, or transport a gun.”

But on Friday a Judge granted a preliminary injunction that affected the scope of one of these bills, SB 1, while HB 824 at present is unaffected. As outlined in the original bill, SB 1 restricts an individual from carrying a gun in specified locations, hundreds of which are county run facilities. Locations outlined in the bill are:

  • “Area for children and vulnerable individuals”
  • “Government or public infrastructure area”
  • “Special purpose area”

The order from Judge George L. Russell, III kept most of the enumerated list of restricted areas in SB 1 intact, but temporarily will allow the carrying of a firearm in some businesses that sell alcohol, private buildings, and near public demonstrations. The meaning of “firearm,” in the bill is as defined in existing statute i.e. a handgun, rifle, shotgun, short-barreled rifle, or short-barreled shotgun, or any other firearm.

The second bill that has the potential to be affected by the lawsuit is HB 824, and has a less direct impact on counties with its broader application to individuals. As it exists now, the language raises the age for qualifying for a handgun permit from 18 to 21. It also prohibits a permit for someone who is on supervised probation for a crime punishable by up to one year or more in prison, a person convicted of driving while impaired or under the influence, and people who violate a protective order. Additionally, people with a mental illness who have a history of violent behavior also would be prohibited from carrying a gun, as well as people who have been involuntarily admitted for more than 30 days to a mental health facility.

With the case ongoing, the fate of both SB 1 and HB 824 are still in question. Two lawsuits were filed when the original legislation was signed into law but Judge Russell had since consolidated them. A Maryland Matters article highlighted the process of consolidating the cases. The memorandum to counsel from Judge Russell regarding the consolidation of Kipke, et al., v. Wes Moore, et al. and Novotny, et al., v. Wes Moore, et al. explained the reasoning for merging the two cases.

…consolidation would serve the interest of judicial convenience and economy and promote a speedy resolution.

The order on Friday requires a joint status report on the case by the State and the plaintiffs within two weeks.

Track all the filings for the consolidated case.

Read the most recent opinion from Judge Russell.