Regulating handguns an issue in Maryland’s legislative crossfire


ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — The issue of regulating handguns is in the legislative crossfire when the General Assembly gathers in Annapolis next week for its 2020 session.

Lawmakers are again deciding eligibility for a handgun permit and the definition of “concealed carry.”

Governor Larry Hogan vetoed a bill that would repeal the Handgun Permit Review Board. Four out of five state police appeals on permits issued are overturned by the board.

“I certainly never had a problem with law abiding citizens defending themselves and carrying a concealed weapon,” says Wivell, noting the recent church shooting in Texas, where lives were saved from an attacking gunman, is a case in point.

But the definition of concealed carry in Maryland may mean something different in other states. West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, for example, is one of 21 state attorneys general asking the U.S. Supreme Court to liberalize Maryland’s narrow interpretation which limits permits to one’s home.

Tim Hafer owns a gun shop west of Hagerstown which, for twenty years, has done a thriving business. He applauds West Virginia’s broader application of the “concealed carry” law.

“If you look a the way West Virginia has done it, it’s Constitutional,” Hafer says. “Any law abiding citizen is able to carry a firearm. The crime rate there is significantly lower than this state where everybody is restricted with firearms.”

According to an aggregation of statistics from the FBI’s 2016 Uniform Crime Reports, Maryland’s violent crime rate is “27.5 percent higher than the national median.”

Maryland’s standard for granting a concealed carry permit is “a good and substantial reason.” Deciding what that is will likely keep the legislature and courts busy for a good while.

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