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Maryland governor signs gun-control bills tightening requirements

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Maryland governor signs gun-control bills tightening requirements on tuesday, May 16 2023

Into law on Tuesday, after lawmakers passed measures this year in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The high court’s ruling in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen last year ended a requirement similar to a Maryland law for people to demonstrate a particular need to get a license to carry a concealed gun in public.

One of the measures Moore signed Tuesday removes the “good and substantial reason” language from Maryland law that the court found unconstitutional in the Bruen case. But the Maryland General Assembly which is controlled by Democrats is also tightened gun laws to prevent someone from carrying a concealed handgun in specific areas.

“Gun violence is tearing apart the fabric of our communities, not just through mass shootings but through shootings that are happening in each of our communities far too often,” Moore, a Democrat, said at a bill-signing ceremony.

Moore said the measures he signed into law demonstrate that the state won’t back down from the challenges of addressing gun violence plaguing the nation.

“In Maryland, we refuse to say these problems are too big or too tough,” Moore said. “We will act, and that’s exactly what today represents.”

One of the bills signed by the governor generally prohibits a person from wearing, carrying or transporting a gun in an “area for children or vulnerable adults,” like a school or health care facility. The new law will start from October 1, also prohibits a person from carrying a firearm in a “government or public infrastructure area,” or a “special purpose area,” which is defined as a place licensed to sell alcohol, cannabis, a stadium, museum, racetrack or casino.

The law also not allow a person carrying a firearm from entering someone’s home or property, unless the owner has the given permission. This Law does not apply on enforcement, security guards and members of the military.

Gun-rights activists already are planning to challenge the legislation in court.

Mark Pennak, president of Maryland Shall Issue, said Tuesday a lawsuit is drafted and “ready to go.”

“It goes way too far,” Pennak said of the legislation.

A separate measure signed by the governor changes and expand requirements and procedures that relate to the issuance and renewal of a permit to wear, carry or transport a handgun.

While it repeals the “good and substantial reason” requirement struck down by the Supreme Court, it raises the age for qualifying for a handgun permit from 18 to 21, which has come under court challenge in other parts of the country.

People who violated an order of security, have been found guilty of driving while drunk or unconscious or who are currently on conditional release under observation for an offense that involves a penalty of up to one year or longer in jail are also not eligible for a permit.

A gun carrying restriction would also apply to those who have a history of violent behavior due to a mental disorder and those who have been forcefully restricted for more than 30 days to an inpatient mental health organization.

The new law also makes changes to requirements for a firearms training course.

For example, it specifies that 16 hours of in-person instruction for initial applications include laws relating to self-defense, safe storage and circumstances under which a person becomes prohibited from possessing a firearm.

By laws, the first application charge for a handgun license has been increased to $125 rather than $75. A duplicate or modified handgun license would cost $20 rather than $10, and a handgun permit extension or additional application would cost $75 instead of $50.

Another bill to improve storage laws for guns was also signed into law by the governor. It is unlawful by the law to keep a loaded weapon in a place where any under age kid can pick up a gun while unsupervised.

It’s known as Jaelynn’s Law. Jaelynn Willey, 16, was murdered in 2018 at Great Mills High School by a 17-year-old student who carried a weapon with a gun owned by his dad rifle. The statue is named in her memory.

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