Maryland lawmakers debate 19 new gun laws

Posted at 8:04 AM, Feb 25, 2019

BALTIMORE — Possible changes to gun laws in Maryland will be up for debate in Annapolis on Monday.

The bills focus on more regulation requirements for background checks and minimum sentencing for crimes involving firearms. As members of the house begin hearing these bills, members of the group 'Mom's Demand Action' plan to be there as well.

'Mom's Demand Action' plans to pack the hearing to support bills on background checks on the private sales of long guns and the regulation of ghost guns. Ghost guns are essentially gun kits purchased separately, legally the individual parts don't require a serial number. Once assembled the parts can be turned into a fully functional and untraceable weapon.

Other gun laws being discussed include a bill proposing longer mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders using firearms in violent crimes, and changing Maryland gun storage laws to include unloaded firearms. Another hot gun topic is House Bill 13-73, dealing with Baltimore City schools. The city school board will reconsider a different version of the bill that would allow school resource officers to be armed.

RELATED: Bill to arm Baltimore City school resource officers proposed again

Here is a breakdown of the 19 proposed gun laws.

HB 92 - Handgun Permits - Payment of Fees
Sponsor: Del. Kathleen Dumais (D/District 15)

This bill would allow applicants to use any method of payment approved by the Secretary of State Police. Prior to this bill, permit fees are only payable by personal check, business check, certified check, or money order.

HB 96 - Regulated Firearms - Transfer
Sponsor: Del. Kathleen Dumais (D/District 15)

This bill focuses on what the definition of a transfer is as it relates to regulated firearms. Currently, when you are transferring a regulation handgun, it only encompasses permanent exchanges of guns, so if you temporarily transfer a gun you are not violating the statue. This bill would make it so to prove a gun transfer you need to show the firearm was given permanently and not lent temporarily.

HB 236 - The Repeat Firearms Offender Act of 2019
Sponsored by the Speaker

This bill makes the following changes if you are found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence or felony

  • Reclassifies the offense from a misdemeanor to a felony
  • First offenders would have the same penalties
  • Establishes that a major offense is punishable by prison for at least 10 years and not exceeding 20 years
  • Prohibits a court from giving a sentence of less than 10 years for a second or subsequent offense
  • Clarifies that a person sentenced under the Crime Law Article is not eligible for parole in less than the mandatory minimum sentence
  • First offenders as well as major violations will have a consecutive sentence rather than a concurrent sentence for the underlying crime of violence or felony,

HB 342 - Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport a Handgun - Qualifications
Sponsor: Del. Teresa E. Reilly (R/District 35B)

This bill would include personal protection or self-defense as a substantial reason to carry, wear, or transport a handgun. The bill also states the General Assembly would like the Governor to include in the annual budget bill the increase in general fund revenues from the increased number of permits to carry, wear, or transport a handgun. This money would then be allocated to fund mental health programs administered by the Maryland Department of Health.

HB 468 - Access to Firearms - Storage Requirements
Sponsor: Del. Dana Stein (D/District 11)

This bill puts more restrictions on the storage of firearms so that they cannot be accessed by children. Under this bill, the firearm needs to be locked by an external safety lock or integrated mechanical safety device or it has to be in a safe storage depository. It also modifies the penalties of the misdemeanor charge if a child gets access to a gun. It would add a maximum prison term of two years in addition to or instead of the current $1,000 penalty. Lastly, the bill would alter the definition of a child to mean any minor under the age of 18.

HB 541 - Permit to Carry, Wear, or Transport a Handgun - Qualifications
Sponsor: Del. Daniel L. Cox (R/District 4)

This bill would include personal protection or self-defense as a substantial reason to carry, wear, or transport a handgun.

HB 612 - Regulated Firearms - Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR Rifle
Sponsor: Del. Julian Ivey (D/District 47A)

This bill would define a Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR rifle as a regulated firearm and define it as an “assault long gun”. By doing this, it would prohibit its possession if purchased after October 1, 2013.

HB 722 - Theft of a Firearm
Sponsor: Del. Wendell R. Beitzel (R/District 1A)

This bill would classify the theft of a firearm as a separate felony offense instead of a general theft. It would also establish its own penalties for the theft of a firearm. Under the bill a first conviction would lead to a five year prison sentence with a nonsuspendable mandatory minimum sentence of two years and/or a $1,000 maximum fine. A second or major conviction would lead to a 10 year sentence with a nonsuspendable mandatory minimum sentence of five years and/or a $2,500 maximum fine.

HB 740 - 3–D Printed Firearms and Ghost Guns
Sponsor: Del. Kathleen Dumais (D/District 15)

This bill bans a person from manufacturing a firearm after 1968, or using a computer-aided fabrication device (3D printer) to create a firearm without a federally licensed serial number. It has specified exemptions, but it would not allow a person to posses, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive a firearm under the previous restrictions unless it has that serial number. Lastly, the bill also established crime penalties for violators.

HB 749 - Right to Purchase, Own, Possess, and Carry Because of Medical Cannabis (Patients' Rights Act)
Sponsor: Del. Robin L. Grammer, Jr. (R/District 6)

This bill says that a person cannot be denied the right to purchase, own, possess, or carry a firearm solely on the basis they are qualified to use medical cannabis. It also says that State agencies would not be able to access or use information from a database of qualifying medical cannabis patients to reject their right to own a gun. State agencies will also not be able to ask a patient about their status as a qualifying patient. If agencies do ask about the use of medical cannabis, it must say the patient is allowed to refrain from reporting their use.

HB 95 - Firearms Disqualifications - Antique Firearm (Shade’s Law)
Sponsor: Del. Kathleen Dumais (D/District 15)

Currently, Maryland residents prohibited from owning or possessing a rifle or shotgun if they meet certain disqualifying criteria can still own an “antique firearm.” This bill would remove that exception, barring gun ownership of any kind, including antiques, if a person is otherwise deemed disqualified from owning a firearm.

HB 774 - Crime Firearms - Study
Sponsor: Del. J. Sandy Bartlet (D/District 32)

The bill mandates the study of “crime firearms” – guns used in the commission of a crime or recovered by law enforcement in connection to illegal possession, transport or sale of a firearm. Specifically, the Department of State Police would have to track certain statistics and data in relation to crimes committed with such weapons, and report that information to the Office of the Attorney General, who would have to pass along those findings to the Governor and the General Assembly.

HB 781 - Parishioner Protection Act of 2019
Sponsor: Del. Kathy Szeliga (R/District 7)

Currently only Marylanders who have obtained handgun permits may carry such weapons publicly. The bill makes an exception for a person to obtain the written consent of the governing board of a “bona fide church or religious organization” to carry a handgun on the church or religious organization’s property for the purpose of self-protection and the protection of others. The written consent would then allow the firearm holder to carry the weapon to and from services or church gatherings, and on the religious organization’s property, regardless of if the firearm owner has a state-issued handgun permit.

HB 769 - Harford County Parishioner Protection Pilot Program
Sponsor: Harford County Delegation

The bill is nearly identical to the proposed HB 0781 Public Safety bill proposed by Del. Szeliga, but it applies specifically to Harford County, taking effect July 1, 2019 and expiring June 30, 2021.

HB 786 - Rifles and Shotguns - Transactions
Sponsor: Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary (D/District 13)

To address legal caveats like the “gun show loop hole,” in which private buyers and sellers of firearms can transact such weapons outside of the current legal scrutiny of gun sales, the bill would require the buyer and seller, or transferor and transferee, to use a licensed firearm dealer to facilitate the transaction. That dealer would have processes the sale or transfer through the dealer’s inventory, subjecting it to the same federal and state background screenings as would be required in a typical gun sale. The dealer could charge a “reasonable fee” for facilitating the transaction.

HB 834 - Legally Owned Firearms Replacement Act
Sponsors: Del. Seth Howard (R/District 30B)

Previous state legislation prohibited the sale, possession, transfer, transport, or purchase of assault weapons, including a grandfather clause ensuring residents and gun dealers who had handled such weapons prior to dates established in the bill to do so lawfully. This new bill would allow those residents already protected by the grandfather clause to replace their lost or broken assault weapons.

HB 927 - Maryland Police Training and Standards Commission - Training Requirements - Firearms
Sponsor: Del. Keith Haynes (D/District 44A)

The bill tries to standardize all entry-level and in-service police firearms training for all officers who may be issued a service weapon, to meet the same requirements as firearms instruction, training, and qualification established by the FBI.

HB 1146 - Forfeiture of Firearms - Sale to Dealer
Sponsors: Del. Wendel Beitzel (R/District 1A)

The bill allows law enforcement agencies that take possession of a gun that had to be forfeited due to a violation of state or federal gun laws, to sell, exchange, or transfer that gun to a federally licensed firearms dealer, potentially generating a small amount of revenue for the law enforcement entity. The bill would only apply to such forfeitures in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington counties.

HB 1247 - No Fear in Education Act – Student Protection in School (Meadow Pollack’s Law)
Sponsors: Del. Daniel Cox (R/District 4)

The bill requires all Maryland schools, public and private, to have either two staff members who have been trained and are licensed to carry a handgun be armed, or to have two armed school resources officers. Schools would also be required to add structural barriers and other physical safety measures, requiring the state to provide grants to pay for such construction or renovation. Schools would also have to drill these new safety procedures, and it would eliminate all existing restrictions on having armed SROs at public schools.