BALTIMORE — The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled the state of New York violated the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the constitution when it began requiring residents to show a specific need when applying for a concealed carry permit.
Writing for the 6-3 conservative majority, justice Clarence Thomas said "the constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees."
The decision has the potential to impact existing right-to-carry laws in Maryland.
Similar to New York, to obtain a Wear and Carry Permit here in Maryland applicants must show "a good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against danger."
Thomas in his decision appeared to push back on that notion.
"The Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation."
According to the the Maryland State Police Licensing division, applicants must also not exhibit "a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or others."
In his opinion Thomas seemed to agree, noting that states still have the authority in some cases to limit who has access to weapons.
"Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms," Thomas wrote.
That however did not stop some of Maryland's lead lawmakers and law enforcement officials from criticizing the Supreme Court's ruling.
Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott chimed in saying the "decision puts lives at risk and makes removing guns from our streets even more difficult."
So far in 2022 there have been 171 murders recorded in the city.
"I’ve asked the law department to study the opinion to let me know all of its implications," added Scott.
Attorney General Brian Frosh called Maryland's current gun laws "common sense," claiming that "they have been proven to reduce gun violence."
“Today’s decision means more deaths and more pain in a country already awash in gun violence. If the norm is that people can carry firearms, our neighborhoods, our streets and other public places will become more dangerous. It will make the lives of law enforcement more difficult and more perilous. The epidemic of gun violence sweeping our nation demonstrates daily the folly of introducing more guns into this boiling cauldron."
In a joint statement, Senate President Bill Ferguson and Speaker Adrienne Jones all but echoed those remarks.
"More guns in public means more violence, and more violence means more death and heartache everywhere. This is the wrong answer. The Second Amendment permits reasonable restrictions on the right to carry a firearm."
The two added that they would review the Supreme Court decision and potentially look to pass legislation that "complies with this brand-new precedent."
This ruling by the nation's high court is the biggest regarding gun rights in nearly a decade.
It also comes on the heels of several recent high profile deadly mass shootings across the nation, one of which happened at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.
On Thursday evening, hours after the ruling came down the U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation that offers states federal grants for enacting what are commonly known as "red flag" laws, which have been in effect in Maryland since 2018.
The law allows family members, medical professionals, and law enforcement to petition a court to issue an order forcing someone who is a danger to themselves or others, to temporarily surrender their firearms.
The U.S. House passed the bill Friday afternoon, sending it to the President's desk to become law.