Supreme Court

Supreme Court Ruling Could Impact Maryland Gun Law

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The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the New York law that regulated who is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public casts doubt on similar laws in several other states -- including Maryland -- which provide local officials with more discretion to deny requests for permits.

Currently, Maryland’s law says gun owners have to prove the need for concealed carry. Proper cause has been interpreted as meaning their life has to be in danger.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh released a statement saying the decision means “neighborhoods, our streets and other public places will become more dangerous. It will make the lives of law enforcement more difficult and more perilous.”

In an interview before the decision, Frosh talked about what is now the future of Maryland’s gun law.

“Ours, which has been upheld repeatedly but is now in the Fourth Circuit, will be viewed in an unfavorable light,” he said.

Frosh is already looking at what’s next. “We’ll have to carefully study that opinion and try to tailor Maryland’s laws and regs so that we can be protective of our residents and still fit within their interpretations of the Second Amendment,” he said.

The Supreme Court's decision to strike down the New York law that regulated who is allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public is seen as an extension of the Court’s landmark 2008 ruling in another Second Amendment case. News4’s Jackie Bensen spoke to a former prosecutor involved in that case and the head of a Maryland group that strongly supports the decision.

The Supreme Court ruling comes almost 14 years after its landmark decision in favor of D.C. resident Joseph Heller, who claimed the District’s law that denied him a permit to keep a handgun in his home was unconstitutional.

“The court in this case applied Heller’s reasoning quite reasonably,” said Mark Pennak, president of Maryland Shall Issue, a group that believes Maryland’s requirement to show a special need for a handgun permit makes it overly and unconstitutionally difficult for citizens to get a license.

“In Maryland, there are roughly, in the population, about 6 million people,” Pennak said. “There are roughly 27,000 permits. Neighboring Pennsylvania has over a million permits. Virginia, over 600,000 permits.”

Former Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in the Heller case, worries Thursday’s Supreme Court decision could worsen the situation in areas of Maryland struggling with an increase in gun crime.

“Extending the opportunity or the ability to have concealed carry in jurisdictions where the police are saying they don’t want it, the government officials say they don’t want it, communities don’t want it, it’s really kind of hard to understand,” he said.

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