Maryland is widely known as having some of the strictest gun laws in the entire country. Few states have provisions that even come close to the highly controversial law, which requires citizens to prove a good and substantial reason to possess a carry permit. Maryland also requires mandatory background checks for all gun purchases, regardless of whether the seller is a licensed dealer or a private party. There is also a mandatory seven-day waiting period in order to buy a gun. And now after the close of this years legislative session in Annapolis, the strict are bound get stricter after The General Assembly passed new firearms regulations. The bill, which has generated national attention, is awaiting Governor O'Malley's signature before it becomes law. All prior indications from the Governor's office have signaled that signing on the dotted line is a foregone conclusion. The new law will have a sweeping impact on all aspects of firearms regulation including purchasing, possessing, and selling.
Recently in Gun Crimes Category
A little over a year ago, Federal District Court Judge Benson Everett Legg ruled that the "good and substantial" provision of the Maryland concealed carry gun law was unconstitutional. This provision required citizens to prove to the state Handgun Permit Unit that they had a good and substantial reason before being granted a concealed carry permit. When a Baltimore County man was denied one such permit, he filed suit in federal court, and the Second Amendment Foundation, which advocates for the preservation of the right to carry, joined in the lawsuit. Despite the Attorney General's best efforts, Judge Legg concluded that the law was too broad to satisfy the state's compelling interest to protect its citizens and prevent crime. According to the Judge the good and substantial provision did not safeguard the public from every handgun related hazard, and therefore did not do enough to justify a significant limitation on the constitutional right to bear arms. But just last week, a three-judge panel sitting for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit unanimously disagreed with Judge Legg, and reversed his decision.
The Baltimore Police Department and the Mayor's office has released it annual crime report, and the statistics are mixed as to whether 2012 was another step in the right direction. The city's homicide rate rose for the first time in a few years, and this is a cause for concern from the police and the mayor's office. In 2011 the city reported 197 murders, which is still a relatively high number considering the overall population. But last year this number actually rose ten percent to 217 murders, thus assuring that Baltimore will still be talked about with the likes of Detroit, Oakland, and St. Louis as one of the most violent cities in America. Although homicides were up it still may not be fair to lump our city in with the usual suspects of violent places. In fact, 2012 crime statistics of other violent crimes and certain property crimes show just the opposite.
Police Chief Batts and Mayor Rawlings-Blake were quick to point out that in spite of the homicide spike, the total violent crime rate dropped five percent. Total violent crime includes homicide, as well as other criminal offenses such as robbery, aggravated assault, and rape. Overall there were 400 less of these incidents in 2012 as opposed to 2011. Burglary, arson, and theft numbers were also down by about five percent, and there were a total of 1,800 fewer type I crime victims this past year. Type I crime includes all of the above crimes. Gun crime also increased significantly according to the police statistics. 2012 marked the lowest number of non-fatal shootings in the city since statistics records of these incidents began in the year 2000. There was also a six percent decrease in the combined amount of shootings, carjackings, and armed robberies from 2011 to 2012. Gun arrests and gun seizures did not experience a significant change, as police arrested around 1,100 people for gun crimes and seized over 1,800 illegal firearms.
Maryland lawmakers are set to begin the 2013 legislative session next week in Annapolis, and gun control is one topic on the minds of many representatives. State legislatures from all over the country will undoubtedly take a deep look into their respective gun laws following the Newtown, Connecticut tragedy, and Maryland is no exception. At least one representative, a democrat from Baltimore County, has already publically proposed a bill that would require active duty police officers to be deployed full time in all state public schools. There are currently school resources officers in many middle and high schools and a few elementary schools, but deploying these officers in public schools is not mandatory. School resource officers are sworn policemen and women that have arrest powers, and carry standard issue police firearms. The bill was submitted as emergency legislation, which means that if it passes it could go into effect as soon as February. It is obviously too early to tell if the bill will receive any opposition, but it seems as if the financial burden on local police jurisdictions would be the only obstacle to the bill's passage.
If the bill is passed in the next few weeks, it could cost Maryland's city and county police departments between 50 and 70 million dollars per year. This money would likely come from gambling revenue that is already earmarked for the state's schools. It seems logical that this bill will pass easily and the required funds will be made available. Many had been questioning why this type of law was not implicated pre Newtown, and now after the latest school tragedy the legislature is unlikely to go through the next 3 months without putting a gun control law on the books. Requiring police in every public school is not the only bill that will be proposed in the upcoming session. Many representatives have also come out in support of a state ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. This bill may meet slightly more opposition than the school officer bill due to the constitutional issues that it may present. There may also be a bill introduced in Annapolis that attempts to keep all guns away from anyone with a dangerous mental illness, but this bill may have the same constitutional issues in addition to being difficult to implement.
A Maryland man was arrested for multiple drug charges after police used a search warrant to raid his Ann Arundel County home. Ann Arundel police executed the search warrant and discovered approximately 46 marijuana plants, which ranged from 5 to 6 feet tall. Police did not release the exact details of what led them to the 53 year old man's home, but police did say that residents of the neighborhood had voiced to concerns to cops about possible drug activity going on in the house. According to police, the Maryland man was arrested for 9 drug charges including manufacturing marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of marijuana. Manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute are both felonies, while possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor. Police did not indicate whether they had any concrete evidence that the Maryland homeowner was actually dealing drugs, or if the marijuana grow operation was simply for personal use. According to police, the marijuana would eventually have a street value of over 50 thousand dollars once the marijuana was harvested.
Police also found over 20 firearms inside the home upon execution of their search warrant. The firearms, which included handguns, shotguns, and rifles were being kept by Ann Arundel police as evidence, although there is no indication that the guns were illegally owned or possessed. Police did say that the ATF was going to be called in to further investigate the collection of firearms. At the time of this article, the man has not been charged with any firearm, gun, or weapons crimes, and it appears that further criminal charges for weapons possession is unlikely. The guns were legally located within the Maryland man's home, and did not appear to be stolen. Police commented that the number of guns in the home was alarming, although there is no evidence that the man ever brought the guns outside of his home, or used any of the firearms in connection with any sort of crime.
The last of five suspects involved a string of Baltimore area armed robberies was recently sentenced to prison. Maryland federal district judge Benson E. Legg handed down the 10 and a half year sentence, which also included a 3 year term of probation when the prison term expires. Judge Legg is the same federal district judge who just last month declared a controversial Maryland gun law unconstitutional (MARYLAND GUN LAW FOUND UNCONSTITUTIONAL).
The robberies occurred during the summer of 2010 in various Maryland locations including Baltimore, Loch Raven, and Chambersburg. According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release the suspects conspired to commit the robberies in order to obtain money and prescription drugs. While it is unknown exactly how many robberies the five suspects were involved in planning or carrying out, the U.S. Attorney secured guilty pleas for the suspects in two separate robberies. The first robbery occurred at a Chambersberg, Maryland bank in July of 2010. Only two of the five suspects actually took part in this first robbery. One of the suspects was arrested on the scene while the other fled and escaped. The other three suspects were alleged to have taken part in the planning of this robbery.
The second robbery took place in September of 2010 at a Baltimore area pharmacy. Three of the suspects took part in this robbery; two entered the pharmacy armed with guns but were not successful in stealing anything of value, while the other suspect waited outside in the getaway car. One of the suspects actually fired his gun during the attempted pharmacy robbery. Of the three suspects involved in the botched armed robbery, two were able to escape while the other was arrested on scene by Baltimore police.
Recently a controversial Maryland gun law was declared unconstitutional in federal court. The decision left gun supporters and opponents alike arguing over the possible impacts on violent crime such as robbery, burglary, and even murder. The law required all Maryland residents to prove a "good and substantial reason" to be able to legally carry a handgun outside of the home in order to be granted a gun permit. The lawsuit began when a Baltimore man sued the state of Maryland in federal civil court after his application to renew his handgun carry permit was denied. The Baltimore man was joined in the lawsuit as plaintiff by the Second Amendment Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the right to bear arms. The plaintiffs prevailed, and provided the case is not successfully appealed, the Maryland legislature must modify this gun law.
Federal district judge Benson E. Legg's ruling will most likely be upheld, which will undoubtedly force Maryland to issue more handgun carry permits. The question up for debate is whether a change in Maryland gun law will actually effect the number of gun crimes and other violent crimes in the state. Both sides of this heated issued will be presented, but only time will tell if gun law modification will have any effect on crime and arrest levels in Maryland.
Gun advocates applauded the federal court ruling as a major victory not only for citizens of Maryland, but for citizens of all states. If upheld, the ruling sets a major precedent that states may not unduly burden a law abiding citizen's right to bear arms outside of the home, unless the state can show a substantial interest in doing so. Supporters of the recent ruling argue that Maryland has far more restrictive gun laws than the majority of the states, and changing these laws would simply put Maryland in line with the rest of the country.
A federal judge has found a controversial Maryland gun law unconstitutional pursuant to a recent ruling. The key issue of the handgun law is the section that requires Maryland residents to show a "good and substantial reason" to carry a gun outside of their home in order to receive a permit from the state. A civil lawsuit challenging the firearm law was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, and judge Benson Everett Legg presided over the case. The plaintiffs consisted of multiple parties including the Second Amendment Foundation, a non-profit organization which promotes gun possession and ownership rights, and a Baltimore County resident.
This Maryland gun law in question prohibits the carrying of a handgun outside of the home whether the handgun is carried out in the open, or concealed. In fact, the only way to legally carry a handgun outside of the home is to receive a permit from the Secretary of the State Police. An applicant must meet a variety of strict requirements in order to be granted such a permit from the Maryland police secretary's office.
An applicant for a hand gun permit in Maryland must not be a convicted felon, not have been convicted of a misdemeanor for which the term of imprisonment is greater than one year, and must not have been convicted of any drug crime. The Maryland law also prohibits drug addicts, alcoholics, and anyone who has shown a propensity for violence or instability from obtaining a handgun permit. The controversial section of the law though, and the section that lead to the lawsuit being filed is the ambiguous "good and substantial reason" requirement.