Council Enacts Legislation Prohibiting Guns in Areas of Public Assembly in Montgomery County

by Patrick Herron

From the Office of Council President Albornoz: Today the Montgomery County Council unanimously voted to approved Bill 21-22, Weapons – Firearms In or Near Places of Public Assembly, sponsored by Council President Gabe Albornoz. This bill is cosponsored by the full Council. 

The new law prohibits the possession of firearms in or near places of public assembly, with certain exemptions, and removes an exemption that allows individuals with certain handgun permits to possess handguns within 100 yards of a place of public assembly.  

“I continue to believe that guns create immeasurably more problems, often with tragic outcomes, than they attempt to solve,” said Council President Albornoz. “This legislation will help to ensure that we do everything possible to minimize the number of guns in our public space. I have confidence that the Maryland General Assembly will take action but given the urgency of gun violence in our community, I felt strongly that we could not wait at the local level.” 

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 23 ruling that the proper cause requirement under the state of New York’s concealed carry law was unconstitutional, many similar concealed carry state laws across the nation have been impacted. In Maryland on July 5, Gov. Larry Hogan directed the Maryland State Police to suspend the state’s existing “good and substantial reason” standard when reviewing applications for Wear and Carry Permits, which substantially lowered the barrier for gun licenses of this nature. 

Montgomery County is facing an epidemic of gun violence, which, in line with national trends, has been exacerbated following the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, the County has seen 11 homicides linked to firearms. Montgomery County Police have recovered 1,053 guns, of which 165 are Privately Manufactured Firearms (PMFs), also known as ghost guns. These numbers show a significant increase over last year’s data. In all of 2021, the Police Department recovered a total of 1,192 guns, of which 72 were PMFs.  

The new Montgomery County law does not apply to a law enforcement officer, or a security guard licensed to carry the firearm, nor would it apply to the possession of a firearm or ammunition, other than a ghost gun or an undetectable gun, in the person’s own home or a business where the owner or designated employee has a permit to carry a firearm. 

In 2021, the Council unanimously passed legislation spearheaded by Councilmember Albornoz that would restrict the sale and transfer of ghost guns to minors. This legislation was followed by the Maryland legislature’s passage of Senate Bill 387 in March 2022, which closes a dangerous loophole that makes it difficult for law enforcement to protect the public, by banning ghost guns statewide. 

The Council staff report for Bill 21-22 can be found here. 

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6 comments

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Economist November 15, 2022 - 1:39 pm

This entire premise of expanding the definition of “sensitive” areas to areas which are manifestly not sensitive (no security whatsoever) is destined to fail and waste a ton of taxpayer money on inevitable lawsuits and put residents in legal jeopardy who pose no danger whatsoever to anyone else. People who have the accidental misfortune of living down the street from a licensed home daycare can now literally not leave their property without committing a crime. In fact, they may _accidentally_ commit a crime if they didn’t know it was there in the first place… or if they were walking down the street, minding their own business, and accidentally passed one a block away.

Seriously, this is terrible legislation, and it’s not something we should be applauding.

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Michael Putman November 16, 2022 - 11:30 am

Just another unconstitutional “feel good” law by the “progressive” party. Now I can rest assured knowing that only criminals are carrying guns around me, not any law abiding citizens who have passed a background check, legally own a gun, gone through another unconstitutional requirement for 16 hours of vague training.
As a taxpayer in Montgomery County, I am furious that my tax dollars have been wasted writing and passing a law that will be struck down (hopefully quickly) and, inevitably, my tax dollars will be further wasted when these clowns appeal the ruling and drag this out.

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Deano November 16, 2022 - 4:10 pm

Is it normal for the financial impact analysis to omit the costs of certain litigation that will quickly follow?

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Mario V November 29, 2022 - 9:59 am

Citizens licensed by the STATE POLICE to carry a handgun for PERSONAL PROTECTION have gone through firearm training, have submitted fingerprints to the state police, and have passed state police background checks. The proposed ordinance exempts law enforcement officers and security guards, but it does not exempt these other law-abiding, trained, and vetted citizens who just wish to defend themselves and their loved ones.
Council members claim that these carry restrictions are needed for public safety due to recent instances of criminals misusing firearms, but they DO NOT CITE A SINGLE INSTANCE of a Wear & Carry permit holder being a perpetrator. Violent CRIMINALS already violate existing laws by illegally possessing and carrying firearms and can already be prosecuted if caught. The Council has provided no explanation as to how their proclamation disarming Wear & Carry permit holders will disarm these criminals.

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Ed C November 29, 2022 - 6:06 pm

All this proves is that these laws are not about safety. All the boxes that the gun grabbers have been screaming about have been check and yet they are still restricting 2A rights in the county. This is about CONTROL, plain and simple.

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Barry Rindner December 20, 2022 - 3:52 pm

I am confused with how Montgomery county can pass an ordinance that CLEARLY violates the Supreme Court decision on firearm possession. The second amendment defines a persons right to own a firearm to protect one’s self. The court has, on a number of times spelled out what this right entails. It seems to me that Montgomery county’s argument is not with the people in this county but with the Supreme court itself. It is clear that the county wishes to redefine what is public space. The court has adjudicated what they consider public space. Any challenge to that should be a court case brought before the court to challenge that ruling. Creating an ordinance in defiance of the court ruling to me is so way out of line. Why isn’t a citizen’s defense against such prosecution simply that the ordinance is unconstitutional? I liken this sort of behavior to a county legislating against any other freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. What if the county would install an ordinance making it a crime to criticize any decisions made by the county commission? Obviously unconstitutional but does an individual or organization have to sue in Federal Court to get something like that overturned? As far as I am concerned the county’s behavior goes far beyond an overreach of jurisdiction. This sort of behavior to me sets a dangerous precedence for any governing body to do what they please and wait to see if anybody complains. I thought the way it works is that the Supreme talks and we listen, period.

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