In case you missed it, Florida enacted a new gun law this week. Championed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill allows “permitless carry” of concealed firearms. Under the new law, qualifying Floridians can carry a concealed firearm without getting a permit or undergoing training on how to handle a gun. Anyone who is a citizen over 21 and does not have certain felony charges or certain misdemeanor domestic violence charges can purchase a gun and “start packing.”
There’s more to the new law, but “permitless carry” is the provision getting the most attention. Florida joins several other states, including Alaska, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio, and a handful of other mostly Republican leaning states in allowing permitless carry.
Maryland does not have “permitless carry” and that makes me feel safer. I don’t want untrained gunslingers bringing guns into churches, schools, grocery stores, concert halls, and even my home without my knowing about it. (I tried to think of a less politically charged way to reference the people who will choose to start carrying concealed loaded guns without first being trained in how to use them but could not think of anything else.)
Dare I say it? The concept that concealed weapons make the world safer is nonsense. For every shooting prevented (usually by someone shooting the shooter dead), there are more than an offsetting number of accidental shootings and deaths. The number of such “accidents” increases dramatically among people not trained in the use of firearms.
Curiously, just as Florida continues to expand “gun rights,” Maryland is considering a new law that goes in the opposite direction. The legislation, Senate Bill 1, adds new restrictions to the process of getting a carry permit and, most importantly, would prohibit anyone from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm on private property without the consent of the owner. The bill also prohibits guns “under certain circumstances” in areas such as courthouses, hospitals, schools and “areas where alcohol is served.”
The bill is now pending before the House of Delegates. It is sponsored by Senator Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery County), who indicates that the legislation was drafted in response to the Supreme Court decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen, a decision that found that “law abiding citizens” do not need a “good and substantial” reason to be permitted to carry a concealed weapon.
I am hopeful that Senate Bill 1 will be enacted into law. Absent any break in the impasse on new national gun safety legislation, we need Annapolis to pass the bill. Unfortunately, that may not happen.
Although Maryland is a progressive state with a clear need for stronger gun safety laws, Senate Bill 1 faces strong opposition. Among the groups opposing the bill is the National Rifle Association (NRA), which tells us: “Senate Bill 1 expands gun-free zones where law-abiding citizens will not be able to carry for self-defense. This patchwork of so-called “sensitive areas” does nothing more than create confusion for law-abiding citizens, while being ignored by criminals. Proponents fail to explain how disarming law-abiding, trained, and licensed individuals will accomplish safety from criminals who do not obey the law. They present no plan to disarm violent criminals, who already ignore existing laws.”
I will spare you a rebuttal of the NRA’s claims except to suggest that fewer guns on the street and fewer people carrying guns, concealed or otherwise, makes for a safer Maryland.
How many more mass shootings, accidental gun deaths caused by children gaining access to improperly stored loaded weapons, and suicides will it take before America accepts that the Second Amendment was never intended to make buying and using a gun dramatically simpler than buying and driving a car?
And what about those of us who hunt or feel the need to have a gun in our home for self-defense? There is nothing in Senate Bill 1 that will impinge on your rights. Hunters and law-abiding citizens should support Senator Waldstreicher’s bill.
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.