Council Passes Law Prohibiting Guns in Places of Public Assembly

County councilmembers unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that prohibits possessing firearms in or near places of public assembly.

The bill was sponsored by Council President Gabe Albornoz and cosponsored by all other councilmembers.

The new law removes an exemption that had allowed those with certain handgun permits to have handguns within 100 yards of places of public assembly.

“I continue to believe that guns create immeasurably more problems, often with tragic outcomes, than they attempt to solve,” said 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.” 

Albornoz said his bill was necessary following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this summer that declared unconstitutional New York’s concealed carry law’s proper cause requirement. Following that ruling, Maryland’s Governor Larry Hogan directed the state police to suspend its existing “good and substantial reason” standard when reviewing applications for wear and carry permits.

Albornoz said suspending that standard reduces the barrier for obtaining gun licenses.

So far this year, there have been 11 homicides linked to firearms. County police have recovered 1,053 guns, of which 165 were ghost guns.

In all of 2021, the police recovered 1,192 guns, of which 72 were ghost guns.

The new law doesn’t apply to law enforcement officers or security guards who are licensed to carry firearms. It also doesn’t apply to the possession of a firearm or ammunition, unless it is an undetectable gun, in someone’s home or business where the owner has a permit for the firearm.

The county received numerous letters and testimony concerning this legislation, most of which was in opposition.

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