ANNAPOLIS – Legislators must know that their bill is in trouble when they are the only ones testifying either for or against it.
Such was the case Tuesday for Del. Glen Glass, R-Harford, who testified before the House Judiciary Committee on a measure that would expressly prohibit police from pulling over drivers solely because they are permitted to carry a handgun.
Glass, a member of the House committee, said police are using license-plate reader technology to identify whether the owner of the vehicle is also a gun owner and, if so, to conduct a traffic stop.
“This illegal profiling in Maryland needs to stop,” Glass told the House panel, which voted down a similar measure last year.
Nobody, however, joined Glass in supporting the bill or bothered to testify against it, including the police.
His largely ignored legislation, House Bill 1345, would provide that “it is not a legitimate law enforcement purpose to use captured plate data that indicates the owner of the vehicle has been issued a permit … to carry, wear, or transport a handgun as the sole basis to stop and question the vehicle’s driver.”
Police who violate the provision could be sentenced to up to a year in jail and fined up $10,000.
Under current law, police may use license plate reader technology for a “legitimate law enforcement purpose,” including the investigation, detection or analysis of a crime, a violation of traffic law or to search for a missing or endangered person.
Glass, in his testimony, cited a December 2014 Washington Times article in which Florida resident John Filippidis said he was pulled over on Interstate 95 by Maryland Transportation Authority police who had discovered, by license-plate reader, that he had a handgun carry permit from his home state. The officers searched the car for the gun but Filippidis said it was locked in a safe at his Florida home, according to the article.
The officers issued Filippidis a warning, for speeding, the article stated.
Calling tourism “a powerful economic engine for Maryland,” Glass said such stops, if permitted to continue, would discourage lawful gun owners from visiting the state.
His testimony was greeted by silence from the committee.