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Maryland General Assembly – 2017 Session Report

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on April 10, 2017. Barring any special requests from the members of the legislature, they will reconvene on January 10, 2018.

This year there were a total of 75 bills related to firearms or hunting presented for consideration. Of those, 23 were passed through both houses of the Assembly, with 13 of those having been signed by Governor Hogan as of this report.

Notable Anti-gun Bills & Status

House Bill 159 / Senate Bill 946:      Titled “Weapon-Free Higher Education Zones”, these bills were signature attempts by our opponents to codify the public universities in the state as gun-free zones. Introduced by Delegate Ben Barnes (Democrat, District 21) in the House of Delegates and Senator Will Smith (Democrat, District 20), these bills passed their respective houses in significantly different forms. The House version would have made possession of a firearm on “property owned or operated by” a public university a criminal offense, with a penalty that establishes a lifetime prohibition on Second Amendment-protected rights. The Senate version, as amended by the Judicial Proceedings Committee, would have made it a civil offense with a mandatory court appearance. The bills were presented to a “conference committee”, but failed to reach a compromise decision prior to the clock running out on Sine Die. As a signature bill for our opponents, we can reasonably expect to see this bill come back for a third bite at the apple next year.

House Bill 1448 / Senate Bill 948:    Titled “Public Safety – Rifles & Shotguns – Transactions” in the House and “Public Safety – Rifles & Shotguns – Secondary Transfers” in the Senate, these bills are the second of the signature attempts from our opponents for this year. These bills would have required the use of a Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealer to perform a sale or transfer of a long gun between private citizens in the state. Our opponents want to force all sales, private or otherwise, to be subject to background check requirements. As written, these bills created a non-enforceable and non-funded background check mandate that could not be performed legally by dealers in Maryland, as it would require an unauthorized usage of the National Instant Background Check System (NICS), in violation of their Federal Firearms Licensee agreements. Again, we can expect to see this one come back for another round next session.

Senate Bill 1180:       Senator Richard Madaleno (Democrat, District 18), in conjunction with our opponents, has taken significant issue with the fact that the Handgun Permit Review Board has been actually doing their job and providing citizen oversight of the Wear & Carry Permit process. While W&C permits are incredibly rare in the state, our opponents are alarmed by the fact that a citizen oversight board would dare to question the subjective application of law by the Maryland State Police Licensing Division. Instead of a citizen oversight board appointed by the Governor, this bill would have made the appeals process subject to the Office of Hearings and Appeals, heard in front of an Administrative Law Judge and possibly subject to additional onerous fees for the application appeal process. This bill was introduced after the bill introduction deadline and never made it out of the Senate Rules Committee. With Senator Madaleno indicating a possible run for Governor and being close friends with our opponents, we can expect that this bill may come back for another round next session.

Notable Pro-gun Bills & Status

House Bill 294 / Senate Bill 224:      A technical bill in nature, these bills remove the requirement for Maryland firearms dealers to make a photocopy of the Handgun Qualification License during the purchase of handguns. These bills are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature.

House Bill 1036:        Delegate Deb Rey (Republican, District 29B) entered a bill to move the training requirement for Wear & Carry permits until after the permit application process. Under the bill, following an initial determination by the Maryland State Police that an applicant had met the requirements for issuance of a permit, the applicant would have 120 days to complete the required training course before receiving a permit. This common sense bill would have potentially reduced costs for Maryland citizens, and was subject to some political manuevers in the Senate. Due to these moves, late in the day on Sine Die, the bill did pass both houses, but was not acted upon in time to meet the Sine Die deadline. We will be working with Delegate Rey prior to session to try to get a Senate sponsor for next session.

House Bill 1427:        Delegate Herb McMillan (Republican, District 30A) picked up a bill that former Delegate Tony O’Donnell entered for consideration last year. This bill provides for an Apprentice Hunting License, to allow a new hunter to participate in the sport, under the direct tutelage of an experienced hunter, prior to completing the complete hunter safety course. This allows more people to experience hunting and will hopefully add more hunters to the sport. We were present when this bill was signed into law by Governor Hogan on May 4, 2017.

Thank your for all of your support throughout the General Assembly session. Citizen participation in the process is essential, and making your voices heard helps to defeat bad bills and promote favorable ones.

Very respectfully,

Michael J. Doherty

2nd Vice President – Legislative Affairs

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