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The Gun Safe

The Second Amendment In Under Attack in One ‘Blue’ State

Since Wes Moore replaced Larry Hogan as Governor of Maryland, the state has, perhaps not unsurprisingly, started reverting to its bad old ways when it comes to the Second Amendment.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Smith & Wesson Model 500.

Maryland’s “one brief shining moment” (to use both an Arthurian and JFK-ish analogy) as a state that respected the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in general and armed citizens’ concealed carry rights, in particular, was nice while it lasted. Since Wes Moore replaced Larry Hogan as Governor of Maryland, the state has, perhaps not unsurprisingly, started reverting to its bad old ways.

But equally unsurprisingly, gun rights groups are fighting back and refusing to take the anti-gun politician’s actions sitting down. Let’s take a look at the recent history and status of this legal fight.

Initial Good News: the SCOTUS’ Bruen Decision and Initial Aftermath

On or about June 23, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) rendered its decision on the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen case. In a 6-3 ruling with the majority opinion authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court ruled that New York’s long-lingering concealed carry law violated the 2nd Amendment. 

As noted by SCOTUS Reporter Kaelan Deese of The Washington Examiner, the ruling “was quickly rebuked by [New York] Gov. Kathy Hochul and fellow Democrats … The six Republican-appointed justices on the high court broke along ideological lines from the three Democratic-appointed justices, who joined a dissent authored by Justice Stephen Breyer … ’The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees,’” 

Thomas wrote in the opinion joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett. “Thomas added that there is ‘no other constitutional right’ that requires a person to demonstrate some sort of special need to government officers in order to obtain a concealed carry permit.”

Unlike the aforementioned Gov. Hochul, then-Gov. of Maryland Hogan chose to abide by and respect the majority ruling Bruen decision. Thusly, as noted by the U.S. Concealed Carry Association (USCCA), “Maryland is now a shall-issue state since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the NYSRPA v Bruen case on June 23rd, 2022. Concealed weapons permits are issued at the state level by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police (Secretary).”

Indeed as a Maryland resident, I applied for the Maryland Wear and Carry Permit and was pleasantly surprised to receive it within roughly 90 days, which was on a par with my wait time for my Virginia and District of Columbia carry permits. (Yes, that’s right, I have the DC CCW; contrary to popular misconception, it’s no longer the combination of the Holy Grail and Unobtanium rolled into one.)

Recent Bad News: Wes Moore, et al Flout the Constitution

Fast-forward to May 2023, and new Gov. Moore has demonstrated himself to be cut from the same cloth as Kathy Hochul, i.e. that whole bit about the Constitution being “the supreme Law of the Land” being conveniently ignored. Mr. Moore signed legislation that bans firearms in public spaces like schools, bars, restaurants, performance venues, polling places, and more. The new laws will require some establishments to display a sign indicating whether concealed carry is allowed in that building. In addition, the new dictates will increase the fee for an initial application for a handgun permit from $75 to $125; the fee for renewal or subsequent application for a handgun permit increases from $50 to $75, and the expenses incurred for a duplicate or modified handgun permit double down from $10 to $20.

Moore’s rationalization? One of his spokespersons wrote, “Governor Moore is committed to signing legislation to help curb the gun violence epidemic.”

Gun Rights Groups Fight Back

Well, as I indicated in the second paragraph of this article. Pro-2nd Amendment groups are refusing to meekly roll over and submit to these new draconian laws. Political analyst José Niño – who is based in Austin, Texas – wrote an article for Gunpowder Magazine a week ago titled “Pro-Gun Organizations File Brief in Lawsuit Against Maryland’s Strict Firearms Carry Regulation.” To wit:

“The response brief in question was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. Maryland Shall Issue, the Firearms Policy Coalition and three private individuals joined the SAF in this case…According to Guns & Ammo magazine’s best states fur gun owners rankings, Maryland is in an awful 44th place … To their credit, pro-gun forces have been hitting the pavement on the litigation front by challenging these anti-gun measures in the courts. That’s one of the very few ways that gun owners in blue states can push back against gun grabs, since legislative options are generally out of the question due to Gun Control Inc.’s monolithic control of state legislatures.”

Where to From Here?

Hard to say for certain. As encouraging as the Bruen decision was for gun rights advocates on the one hand, on the other hand, the SCOTUS rendered a 5-4 decision in the past week that upholds the Biden Administration’s regulations on so-called “ghost guns;” Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, for reasons unexplained, broke ranks with their fellow conservatives and voted with the three members of the Court’s left-wing faction. But then again, this is only a temporary ruling, without the same weight of finality as, say, the District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago decisions. Rather, as AP reporter Mark Sherman states, “The regulation will be in effect while the administration appeals the ruling to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans – and potentially [back to] the Supreme Court.”

Playing devil’s advocate, the Moore edicts are much farther-reaching than the ghost gun legislation and therefore less likely to pass Constitutional scrutiny. To quote Mr. Niño one more time, “Ultimately, that’s how we’ll restore gun rights in America.” Time will tell. 

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

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Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).