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General Assembly needs to strengthen gun laws, Frosh says

General Assembly needs to strengthen gun laws, Frosh says

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Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, speaking during a Greater Baltimore Committee forum on guns, said the state legislature needs to act quickly to strengthen gun laws since the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision in a New York case. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

Maryland’s outgoing attorney general said the state legislature needs to act quickly to strengthen gun laws.

Attorney General Brian Frosh said lawmakers will need to beef up state law to adapt to a United States Supreme Court decision he and others believe will substantially increase the number of people licensed to carry guns in Maryland.

“I think we need to do the best that we can to adapt to the Bruen decision by the Supreme Court,” Frosh said. “That means there are policies that the general assembly can strengthen and adopt to cure that.”

The Supreme Court in June struck down a New York wear and carry law in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. The New York law was substantially similar to Maryland’s “good and substantial reason” rule that clamped down on the number of permits issued in the state.

“I think the Supreme Court just poured gasoline on the fire. We’ve got a public health epidemic in terms of gun violence,” said Frosh during a Tuesday event on guns sponsored by the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Included in the measures Frosh said the legislature should consider are restrictions similar to those passed by the New York legislature earlier this month.

“We have restrictions in place in Maryland but the problem is they’re not as extensive as they should be,” he said.

Those include limits on where guns can be carried including a ban on carrying on private property without the permission of the property owner.

“I hope that when the General Assembly adopts a constellation of restrictions like those, it will help us to adapt to a world in which more people are going to be carrying weapons as they go about their daily lives,” said Frosh.

Top Democratic lawmakers have already started meeting to look at ways state laws might be changed in response to the high court ruling.

Since the ruling, Frosh’s office has advised the Maryland State Police that it cannot continue to enforce the “good and substantial reason requirement.” A state appeals court raised similar concerns.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan also ordered the agency to stop enforcing the law.

“I think the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen is a radical departure from the kind of jurisprudence that we’ve seen on Constitutional interpretation and specifically on the 2nd Amendment,” said Frosh. 

“They have blood on their hands, in my view,” said Frosh.

Pro 2nd Amendment groups hailed the decision and predicted a tidal wave of carry applications.

One Maryland State Police official participating in the Greater Baltimore Committee event said the agency has seen an increase but couldn’t quantify it.

Frosh and others expressed concerns about an increase in violence related to expanded wear and carry laws.

Daniel Webster, a professor and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said data is incomplete but an upcoming study found not all states “have significant increases in gun violence” when concealed carry laws are relaxed.

Increased training requirements and strict limits on who would be ineligible to get a permit help, he said.

“The higher the bar in essence in order to qualify to get a concealed carry license…you have less, you minimize or even eliminate your elevated risk for gun violence,” said Webster.

“That’s something I think Maryland policymakers really need to concentrate on right now,” he said.

One concerning trend is the increase in violence related to guns stolen from licensed carriers who leave weapons in vehicles and other places.

Webster said lawmakers should be “thinking about storage regulations and public information to encourage safe storage is really important.”

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