2017 MGA Legislative Wrap-Up
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence entered the 2017 legislative session with new leadership under President Jen Pauliukonis and Executive Director Elizabeth Banach. Under this new leadership, we significantly grew our grassroots participation and changed the landscape and culture of gun related legislation in Annapolis. Gun violence prevention advocates outnumbered the gun extremists on ‘Gun Day” bill hearings.
MPGV made great progress in getting life-saving legislation passed and prevented any bill passage and executive appointments that would weaken our state’s gun laws and standards. We laid important groundwork for future legislation. We also encouraged and identified legislators who are emerging as leaders on the gun violence prevention issue.
Domestic Violence Bill
We worked with a broad-based coalition led by The House of Ruth to pass a bill disqualifying individuals given a probation-before-judgment for domestic abuse (Lee/Dumais). Throughout the year, we participated in a work group with the Governor’s Family Violence Council with representatives from different state agencies, domestic violence advocacy groups, and gun violence prevention advocacy groups to address preventing abusers from possessing firearms. MPGV was honored to fight with them to pass this life-saving piece of legislation.
Following last year’s appointment and confirmation of members to the Handgun Permit Review Board, MPGV spent the year monitoring the board hearings. The HPRB rules on appeals if an individual is denied a Wear and Carry Permit from the Maryland State Police.
All five of the members appointed by Governor Hogan are gun rights supporters and more and more denials by MSP are being overturned, weakening our state’s high standards for concealed carry issuance. MPGV prevented any members to the HPRB from being confirmed this session. We worked hard to educate legislators on the issue and applaud the leadership of Senator Bill Ferguson and Senator Rich Madaleno in fighting for more oversight of the Board and their hearings.
SUCCESSFULLY OPPOSED BILLS
There were over 20 gun bills introduced that would have weakened Maryland’s strong laws. MPGV prevented all of them from passing. MPGV focused on fighting laws that would weaken state standards for concealed carry permits. We defeated bills that would have validated concealed carry permits from border states with much weaker laws and standards and weakened our concealed carry permit standards allow self-defense to become a ‘good and substantial reason’ for issuing a permit.
Currently, a person would need to show documentation of a specific threat against him or herself. This expansion of the definition would weaken the high wear and carry permit standards significantly and allow just about anyone to carry a firearm in Maryland.
MPGV also defeated a bill that would have authorized a person to replace a lost or broken assault weapon. It is at best negligent to allow someone irresponsible enough to lose or break their assault weapon to be allowed to replace the item. HB 59 never made it out of the House Judiciary committee.
After a bill to reduce the requirement of 16 hours for a wear and carry class to 6 hours passed out of House Judiciary, MPGV lobbied diligently to get the House to oppose the bill. We prevented the bill from receiving a vote on the floor and it died before the Crossover deadline. Carrying a firearm is an immense responsibility. Maryland’s wear and carry courses teach the permit holder gun safety, increasing competency and efficiency for defensive gun use, marksmanship skills, assessment of risk, reasons why using a firearm should be your last choice, and an overview of Maryland’s gun laws. Six hours is not sufficient time to give each of these important safety issues.
Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence will continue to fight any ‘bad gun bills’ that threaten the public health and safety of the residents of our state.
Gun violence prevention bills are still seen by too many legislators as controversial and partisan. A culture of fear remains pervasive in Annapolis when dealing with gun violence prevention legislation. We applaud those individuals in Annapolis who have the courage to stand up and demand that we keep our communities, families, schools and workplaces safe. We cannot afford to dismiss the significance of these loses and the complacency of many legislators who deem themselves progressive in the failure of their passage.
Our efforts to keep guns off public college campuses and to create a way for convicted individuals to safely and securely transfer their firearms failed after the State Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee gutted each bill. A last-minute compromise was in a conference committee to restore much of the Weapons-Free Higher Education bill but there was not enough time for a floor vote before the stroke of midnight on Sine Die.
These loses were disappointing but only serve to strengthen our resolve and remind us that Maryland still has work to do.
Thank you for your support,
P.S. If you are interested in being more active in supporting gun violence prevention legislation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.