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“May Issue” Versus “Shall Issue” Concealed Carry Guns Laws

In 2013, the Maryland Supreme Court refused to take up a case that challenged the current restrictions on concealed carry handgun permits. A District Court judge had ruled that these restrictions were unconstitutional because they violated the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but the decision of the higher court rendered this ruling moot. Maryland requires concealed carry applicants to prove that they have a “good and substantial reason” for requesting the permit and allows local authorities the option of issuing the permit — or not. This is known as a “may issue” policy, as opposed to the “shall issue” policy adopted by states with less restrictive gun laws.

In fact, “shall issue” carry laws, which grant permits to all qualified applicants who want one, are now the norm for two-thirds of the U.S. population. Four percent of the population — those who live in Alaska, Arizona, Vermont and Wyoming — do not need a permit to carry a concealed firearm. Less than 20 percent of the population lives in states with “may issue” laws. Besides Maryland, this includes Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Only 30 years ago, these numbers were very different when a third of the population lived in states that prohibited any citizen from carrying a concealed weapon.

Under the Maryland Firearm Safety Act, anyone applying for a concealed handgun permit must demonstrate the following to the Department of State Police (DSP):

  • No felony or misdemeanor convictions
  • No drug charge convictions
  • No current alcohol or drug addiction
  • No propensity toward violence
  • Competence with a handgun
  • Good and substantial reason for requesting permit

Nearly six percent of concealed carry permits are denied each year because the DSP does not think the applicant has a valid reason for needing the protection of a handgun. 

Maryland gun laws are strict, as are the penalties for violating these laws. Speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney about your legal rights if you are arrested on a firearms charge.

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