Gov. Larry Hogan tells Maryland State Police to suspend standard for handgun permits

Published on: July 05, 2022 at 4:04 pm EDT

Updated on: July 05, 2022 at 4:18 pm EDT

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, speaks at a bill-signing event in the Governor's Reception Room at the State House in Annapolis on March 18, 2022.

Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday directed the Maryland State Police to no longer adhere to the state’s “good and substantial reason” requirement when issuing permits to carry a handgun.

Previously under state law, a gun owner needed to prove that they had “good and substantial reason” to carry a concealed weapon, known as a “wear and carry” permit. As of today, Hogan said that requirement is no longer in effect. The announcement follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision last month that struck down a New York requirement similar to Maryland’s.

“It would be unconstitutional to continue enforcing this provision in state law,” Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement. “There is no impact on other permitting requirements and protocols.”

“Today’s action is in line with actions taken in other states in response to the recent ruling.”

According to the Maryland State Police, the agency is in the process of updating the online licensing portal to align with the court ruling.

Until the system updates are complete, applicants submitting a wear and carry permit application are directed to select “Personal Protection/Category Not Listed Above” as their “Handgun Permit Category.” The agency said no other requirements for the permit will change, including required training, fingerprinting and, if requested, military service and other records necessary for a background check. The agency currently has 39,797 active applications for permits as of July 1.

The state’s leading gun rights group, Maryland Shall Issue, supported Hogan’s decision.

“For the first time in decades, ordinary, law-abiding citizens in Maryland will have their Second Amendment right for self-defense outside the home respected,” the group’s president, Mark Pennak, said in a statement. Pennak noted that permit holders commit crimes at rates below commissioned police officers.

State Senate President Bill Ferguson and Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, both Democrats, spoke at a news conference Tuesday morning pledging to keep constituents safe following the suspension of the law

“We knew that there was likely going to be a challenge to the law and we are going to comply, that is what we do here in Maryland ... but we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure people feel safe,” said Ferguson.

Gun safety advocates said Hogan was reacting too quickly in response to the Supreme Court ruling and should have waited on advice from Attorney General Brian Frosh, a Democrat.

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“Governor Hogan’s hasty reaction ... without waiting for the Attorney General’s analysis to be complete will result in increased gun violence,” wrote Karen Herren, the Legislative Director at Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, to The Baltimore Banner.

“Maryland State Police must continue in their efforts to keep Marylanders safe by ensuring that only people who are qualified and appropriate to carry firearms in public are legally allowed to do so,” she added.

Following the ruling, gun violence prevention advocates will now push Maryland legislators to raise standards of proficiency and more extensive background checks for applicants.

In a special session following the Supreme Court ruling, New York lawmakers and Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, banned the possession of guns in schools, places of worship and events attended by a certain number of people. The new law also bars guns in public settings such as subways and buses, parks, hospitals, stadiums and day care facilities.

Looking ahead, Maryland — and other states like California, Massachusetts and Hawaii — could potentially model measures after New York. But legislative leaders did not say Tuesday that they had plans for a special session.

“Between now and January the Maryland House of Delegates will look at every option to curb the proliferation of guns on the street,” House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones wrote in a tweet, referencing the scheduled start of the next 90-day legislative session, before the Baltimore County Democrat followed up with: “We will pass meaningful and reasonable limitations to ensure the safety of our families and children.”

Likewise, Ferguson indicated any action would wait until next year.

“Next Session, the Maryland General Assembly will pass legislation that adheres to the new precedent set by this Supreme Court while ensuring reasonable restrictions to keep our families and communities safe,” Ferguson wrote.

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