In the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, Maryland lawmakers gave their stamp of approval to a pair of bills that would overhaul the state’s gun-carry laws.
On Monday, the Maryland General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 824. Together the bills would increase the application fees for new “wear and carry” permits, expand the requirements for training that applicants must meet, and significantly expand the list of “sensitive places” throughout the state where licensed carry would be a crime to include most publicly-accessible private property like stores or restaurants.
The bills now head to Governor Wes Moore’s (D.) desk. He is expected to sign the bills into law. Moore’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Once signed, the bills stand to make Maryland the third state to institute broad new restrictions on gun carry in direct response to the United States Supreme Court and its decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. Following that decision—which ruled restrictive “may-issue” permitting laws like the one Maryland used to have to be unconstitutional—many of the state’s residents were able to apply for and actually receive gun-carry permits for the first time. Once the new bills are signed into law, the value of those permits will be greatly diminished.
Gun-rights advocates in the state denounced the two bills and promised to challenge them in court.
“With the passage of SB 1 and HB 824, the Maryland General Assembly has chosen to defy the United States Supreme Court and the Constitution by undermining Marylanders’ civil right to protect themselves in public,” Mark Pennak, President of Maryland Shall Issue, said in a statement. “The Supreme Court was clear in its landmark decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that there is a general right to publicly carry for all law-abiding, responsible Americans.”
Gun-control advocates meanwhile said the bills were a win for public safety.
“The General Assembly has prioritized the safety of our communities by ensuring kids can’t gain access to firearms, making sure people who are licensed to carry firearms in public are responsible and properly trained, and keeping guns out of places where they don’t belong,” Melissa Ladd, a member of the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action, said.
House Bill 824 would increase permit fees for first-time applicants to $125, up from $75. It would also mandate a minimum of 16 hours of in-person training to receive a permit. Live-fire shooting would be required as well. Renewal applicants would also be subject to an 8-hour training requirement and a $75 fee.
Senate Bill 1 seeks to ban carry in most publicly-accessible buildings by default unless that building’s owner expressly grants permission to carry inside. It also makes a host of places, including all schools, health care facilities, government buildings, power plant facilities, locations where alcohol or cannabis are sold, stadiums, museums, amusement parks, racetracks, and casinos entirely off-limits for carry regardless of what the property owner says.
Penalties for carrying in one of the sensitive places would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
Similar broad location-based restrictions on licensed gun carry have been passed in other former “may-issue” states like New York and New Jersey. But those laws are currently embroiled in court battles. Federal judges have issued at least five separate injunctions against many sensitive place restrictions enacted in those two states.
Once signed, Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 824 would take effect on October 1 of this year.