A federal judge on Friday effectively blocked the portion of Maryland’s Gun Safety Act of 2023 that would restrict the carrying of firearms in locations selling alcohol, private buildings or property without the owner’s consent and within 1,000 feet of a public demonstration.
The opinion and order, both written by U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III, granted in part motions for preliminary judgment on behalf of individuals and organizations claiming that the Gun Safety Act of 2023 and Maryland law infringe on their Second Amendment rights and prevent them from carrying firearms in certain locations.
The Gun Safety Act of 2023, also known as Senate Bill 1, went into effect on Sunday. Still in place are measures limiting the ability to carry guns at public places such as museums, school grounds, parks, mass transit facilities, government buildings and stadiums, to name several.
The ruling is being considered a partial win for plaintiffs and the state of Maryland, with both sides vowing to continue their respective defenses and challenges to the constitutionality of SB 1.
Jennifer Donelan, spokesperson for the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, said the office “will continue to vigorously defend all provisions of SB 1.”
“We are pleased that the court upheld many of SB 1’s common-sense provisions aimed at keeping Marylanders safe from the scourge of gun violence,” Donelan said.
Randy Kozuch, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), said the NRA, a party to one of two consolidated lawsuits against Maryland over SB 1, is pleased with the partial win.
“While the NRA is pleased with the partial win, we will be continuing our challenges to the other so-called sensitive places that the court declined to enjoin,” Kozuch said.
The Maryland District Court relied on the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision of New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen when affirming that certain places, such as schools and health care facilities are “sensitive places” and the regulation of firearms, at least in the context of health care facilities, “is similar to historical analogues that prohibited firearms in places where people assembled for scientific purposes.”
In making its ruling, the Maryland District Court looked to historical statutes and regulations of gun laws.
Sen. Stephen Hershey, Jr., Senate Minority Leader, said this injunctive relief makes Maryland a safer state “because people now have the constitutional right to protect themselves.”
Hershey noted that SB 1 is “very different” than what was originally introduced, and said that through the deliberative process, his party helped bring clarity to what specific public areas individuals with permits could carry a firearm.
“It’s important to note why some areas are okay for this judge and other areas are not,” Hershey said. “I think that will be the question that remains to be answered as this process moves forward.”