The Maryland Senate passed the Gun Safety Act of 2023 on Monday, March 13, which has raised controversy in the state. The legislation is aimed at tightening the state’s gun laws and limiting the circumstances under which someone can carry a weapon even with a concealed carry permit.
The bill, SB 1, was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery, and now-Secretary of State Susan Lee, D-Montgomery. The legislation is intended to combat gun violence and follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision that found some Maryland gun laws unconstitutional.
If enacted, the legislation would make the licensing process for wear and carry permits more strict. It would also prohibit an individual from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting a firearm on private property without consent. In addition, the bill would prohibit guns “under certain circumstances” and in “certain locations,” including courthouses, hospitals, schools, and areas where alcohol is served.
Waldstreicher said the bill was drafted in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in NYSRPA v. Bruen. The case in June decided that law-abiding citizens do not need a “good and substantial” reason to be permitted to carry a concealed firearm, and that any “proper cause to carry” requirement, used in several states, including Maryland, was unconstitutional according to the 14th Amendment.
The bill originally proposed to prohibit individuals, including those with a wear and carry permit, from bringing a firearm within 100 feet of certain public places. However, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee revised the bill over concerns it would not survive constitutional scrutiny.
The 100-foot requirement was removed, and specific places where guns are prohibited, such as preschools, hospitals, and courthouses, were added.
Republican lawmakers remain skeptical that the bill is constitutional under the Second Amendment.
The bill passed the Senate 31-16, and now will be taken up by the House Judiciary Committee.