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.