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Legislative Priorities

Handgun Permit Review Board – Veto Override

In 2019, after several years educating lawmakers about how the Handgun Permit Review Board was undermining Maryland’s conceal carry law, MPGV led the successful effort to pass legislation abolishing the Board. Now, in 2020, MPGV is back to fight for an override of Governor’s Hogan’s veto of the 2019 bill.

If the veto override is successful, and the 2019 legislation goes into effect, it will remove the Handgun Permit Review Board (HPRB) and replace it with a neutral administrative judicial review process. The HPRB is a five-person panel of citizens appointed by the governor to rule on appeals of Wear and Carry permits after an individual is denied a permit by the Maryland State Police. It is the only situation where a citizen body has the authority to overrule a departmental Secretary and has proven to be a way to circumvent Maryland’s important firearms safety laws.

Child Access Prevention and Safe Storage (SB 441 & HB 468)

This bill sponsored by State Senator Will Smith and Delegate Dana Stein will strengthen safe storage requirements for gun owners for the purpose of reducing child access to firearms. Unsecured firearms increase the risk of unintentional shootings, homicide, and suicide. In addition to requiring that guns are securely stored and unloaded if a minor could gain access, the bill changes the definition of a minor from under 16 to under 18 years of age. It also provides for a graduated system of penalties commensurate with the harm caused by a failure to securely store a weapon. In short, this bill will strengthen gun owners’ accountability and responsibility for the safe storage of firearms.

Strengthening Maryland’s Assault Weapons Ban

While Maryland is one of a few states to have an assault weapons ban, the legislation passed in 2013, the Maryland Firearm Safety Act is not as stringent as other states and has a number of dangerous loopholes. One such loophole was highlighted after the August 4, 2019 shooting in Dayton Ohio where a shooter killed nine people and injured over two dozen with an Anderson Manufacturing .223-caliber AM-15 gun. This gun, described by many as an AR-15 style pistol is legal to own and purchase in Maryland. MPGV will advocate for a stronger assault weapons ban during the 2020 session including working to ban dangerous assault pistols.

Firearm Dealer Best Practices

This bill introduced by State Senator Jeff Waldstreicher and Delegate Marc Korman will establish best practices for gun dealers to ensure all dealers are properly securing their inventory and maintaining sales records. This bill will codify life-saving measures that gun dealers and distributors in Maryland must follow and holds business owners responsible should they violate these standards. It will require gun dealers to:

– Lock up all inventory, including using trigger locks on display items;
– Maintain and back up electronic records to track purchases and inventory;
– Install surveillance and alarm systems to prevent theft;
– Conduct background checks on all employees; and
– Obtain business and liability insurance coverage.

Data Aggregation and Collection

Over the last seven years, MPGV has advocated for data collection that can help us better understand gun violence in the state of Maryland including data related to firearm crimes such as illegal firearms, crime guns, and gun trafficking; as well as data reporting related to the public health aspects of gun violence. Through this work, MPGV was able to discover that the Maryland Department of Health stopped reporting data on injuries and fatalities in 2016, and this report is for 2013 data. MPGV will work with the legislative and executive branch to restore this data reporting and will advocate for more granular level data to be reported in future years. These statistics are essential tools for developing a better understanding of gun violence in Maryland and will allow researchers, policy makers, and health care providers to advance more informed policies and recommendations on how to prevent firearm injuries and deaths.

Education Policies

MPGV recognizes the important role that education policies, our schools, and educators play in both preventing gun violence and responding to gun violence. MPGV will advocate for education policies that seek to address equity, education funding, school construction funding, school security, and improved education and economic opportunities for students, particularly those who live in communities disproportionately affected by daily gun violence.

HB1/SB1 The Build to Learn Act will implement the recommendations of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education (the Kirwan Commission) and will overhaul the state education system to make significant investments in education funding and major changes to education policy in Maryland to ensure that all students have the opportunity to learn and are college or career ready upon graduation. Reducing violence in Baltimore is a complex issue requiring a multi-faceted approach. While we must address the number of accessible weapons, and violence within Baltimore, we must simultaneously provide ways of lifting affected communities to provide them with the tools they need to thrive. One of the most critical tools is access to quality education. Improving economic opportunities for young people and providing them with career training and college preparation is a long term investment in gun violence prevention.

Delegate Wilkins and Senator Washington are sponsoring a bill to implement guidelines for school to provide trauma informed care to students so that schools, administrators, and educators know how to recognize and appropriately respond to trauma. This legislation is both important for responding to gun violence and helping end the cycle of violence.