In blue states, the Supreme Court’s rulings are virtually ignored. What good are gun rights when you can’t use them?
The Supreme Court may have guaranteed the right to bear arms in last year’s Bruen decision, but Democratic lawmakers in Maryland and elsewhere are doing their best to bypass the ruling altogether with phony “common sense” measures—trampling the Constitution making communities less safe in the process.
New Laws, New Lawsuits
In June 2022, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second American grants every American the right to carry a firearm outside of their home in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen. The ruling blocked New York’s “special need” requirement that made residents provide a specific reason to get a concealed carry permit and established a need for “historical tradition” in court rulings for Second Amendment cases.
Many states including New York, New Jersey, and Maryland were forced to update their gun laws. Each state decided to move away from blocking residents from purchasing firearms based on need and opted to restrict the areas where residents are permitted to carry. Despite this work around, the states are still in violation of the constitution, as they are blocking law-abiding Americans from carrying outside of their homes, Second Amendment advocates say.
Maryland is the poster child for gun control activists. The state has spent the past century restricting gun rights–often beating the federal government to the punch—implementing background checks, strict permitting of concealed carry licenses, red flag laws, an “assault” weapon and “high-capacity” magazine ban, regulations on “ghost guns” (firearms built at home from various parts), and waiting periods and training qualifications to purchase a gun.
No wonder the anti-gun group Everytown for Gun Safety ranks Maryland the state with the eighth “strongest” gun control laws in the nation.
Before the Bruen decision, fewer than 0.19 percent of Maryland residents were approved for a permit to carry each year. Bruen threatened to change that—so Maryland Democrats responded to the ruling by passing S.B. 1, the Gun Safety Act of 2023, which Democratic Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed into law in May in hopes of sneakily circumventing the decision.
“The gun safety measures I signed into law today will help keep our communities safe from gun crimes, support the Maryland State Police Gun Center to track & trace firearms used in crimes, and help get guns off our streets. We are taking action to build a safer, brighter future for Maryland,” Moore tweeted.
In reality, S.B. 1 bars residents from carrying a firearm in almost any public area and a few private ones as well. Responsible firearm owners are no longer allowed to carry a firearm in public buildings. Most states block individuals from drinking alcohol while carrying a concealed gun; Maryland apparently fears second-hand drinking, since the law prohibits them from even entering a restaurant that sells alcohol.
The law provides a blanket ban on carrying guns on private property (without permission), state parks and forests, highway rest stops, transit facilities, public schools, public demonstrations, health care facilities, and the nebulously defined “public infrastructure.” Does that mean gun owners are barred from using sidewalks and bridges?
In short, the Supreme Court may have guaranteed Marylanders the right to carry a gun, but Maryland Democrats are bent on stopping them from carrying it anywhere at all.
Nothing New to See Here
After the law was signed, the National Rifle Association filed a lawsuit against the state arguing that the law is unconstitutional and makes self-defense virtually impossible for law-abiding citizens.
“It is vital for law-abiding Marylanders to have an effective means of defending themselves and their loved ones. Our laws should burden criminals and aid good, lawful people. It is evident that those in power in Maryland care more for criminals and less for the law-abiding,” NRA-ILA Executive Director Randy Kozuch said in a press release.
Maryland’s S.B. 1 is not the first law that blocks residents from practicing their Second Amendment Rights in public. In fact, Maryland took a page out of the New York-New Jersey gun control manual.
Both states have entered extensive legal battles over the constitutionality of their post-Bruen gun laws. Various judges have placed temporary injunctions on the grounds that the laws violate the Constitution, yet Maryland decided to follow suit and give it a try.
In January, U.S. District Judge Reneé Marie Bumb placed two temporary restraining orders on the “sensitive places” portion of New Jersey’s post-Bruen updated gun law.
Like S.B. 1, the law bars residents from carrying firearms for self-defense in “sensitive places” such as casinos, public libraries, museums, bars and restaurants where alcohol is served, entertainment facilities, and private property and private vehicles, unless indicated otherwise by the owners.
“This is another example of the important precedent found in language in the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling last June,” Second Amendment Foundation founder and executive vice president Alan M. Gottlieb said in a January press release. “Clearly, New Jersey lawmakers have gone too far in crafting a law to get around the high court’s decision.”
Bumb declared that “neither the State nor the public has an interest in enforcing unconstitutional laws,” according to the ruling in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey Camden Vicinage. “The deprivation of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment rights, as the holders of valid permits from the State to conceal carry handguns, constitutes irreparable injury,” Bumb continued.
New Jersey Senate Republican Leader Steven Oroho told reporters that the law was rushed through the Legislature and is an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court. “We look forward to the offending provisions of the law being permanently struck down,” he said.
New Jersey’s “updated” gun laws parrot New York’s own post-Bruen gun laws. New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act prohibits concealed carry at schools, public parks, courthouses, bars and private property, unless specific permission is granted by the owner.
The legislation also added language that barred weapons in churches, but multiple preliminary injunctions were levied against the law.
Judge John Sinatra of the Western District of New York ruled that the state’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act is unconstitutional, as it violates worshipers’ gun rights and hinders the free exercise of religious beliefs, according to one preliminary injunction.
The case, Spencer v. Nigrelli, was the third ruling that found the law to be unconstitutional and follows rulings in the Hardaway and the Antonyuk cases.
The Bruen decision was a tremendous blow to the Left because it rendered numerous gun laws unconstitutional across the country. In scrambling to respond, Democratic lawmakers have turned to the tried-and-true tactics: Alleging racism.
Left-wing attorneys point to laws from the 18th and 19th centuries that were used to restrict slaves, free black people, Native Americans, and Roman Catholics from owning firearms. New York first referenced outdated, racist laws after the Bruen decision to defend its updated concealed carry law, according to court filings.
Ironically, it may have the opposite effect.
“The reason that anti-gun rights Democrat attorneys are using old discredited racist gun laws from the past to provide historical tradition for current gun laws in light of the Bruen decision is because they have no valid arguments to make,” Alan Gottlieb explained to reporters. “This is a losing argument that makes them look like they support racist laws staying on the books.”
In California, attorneys have referenced racist gun laws to support ammunition background checks and magazine capacity limits.
In Rhode v. Bonta, attorneys referenced a 1619 Virginia law that restricted colonists from giving Native Americans firearms; a 1633 Massachusetts law that prohibited Native Americans from possessing, trading, seeking or repairing firearms; a 1740 South Carolina act that “prohibited any negro or slave” from possessing or using a firearm without their master’s consent; and a 1756 Virginia law that prohibited Catholics from owning firearms and required that they swear oaths of allegiance in front of justices of the peace.
“The California Department of Justice should be ashamed of itself for citing so many discriminatory laws of the past as its purported historical analogues. But even setting aside the government’s shamelessness, the argument they make is still unpersuasive,” Michel & Associates Attorney Konstadinos Moros told reporters.
Nothing Changes Overnight
Are Maryland’s own gun laws part of that racist tradition of restricting gun ownership?
In 1886, the Maryland legislature voted to block all residents from carrying a firearm unless they were a public official who was required to have a firearm as official equipment.
In 1933, Maryland passed a reactionary bill that banned the possession and use of machine guns. In 1934, the federal government followed suit, as Congress passed the National Firearms Act that taxed certain weapons.
In 1966, Maryland once again beat the federal government, as the state implemented a seven-day waiting period for gun purchases and established background checks through the Maryland state police. The federal government did not pass a similar requirement until 1994, when Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
In 1972, Maryland restructured its requirements for concealed carry permits. Only someone with “good and substantial reason” could concealed carry In public, the legislature decided, and violators were subject to jail time. (Bruen specifically struck this down as there is no historic legal tradition requiring residents to demonstrate a “need” to carry firearms.)
In 1989, the seven-day waiting period was expanded and AK-47s were added to the list of firearms that require a background check.
Gun control only escalateed in Maryland in the 1990s and continues to this day. In 1994, Maryland banned detachable magazines of more than 10 rounds. In 1996, the Maryland Gun Violence Act banned straw purchases and limited any regulated firearm purchase to one per month.
The Maryland Gun Violence Act also opened Pandora’s box for search and seizure, as it was permitted in any domestic violence incidents and further allowed judges to order the surrender of firearms during protective orders.
In 2000, lawmakers passed the Responsible Gun Safety Act, which required any firearm made before 2003 be equipped with external safety devices. The act also instituted a safety course for purchase of a handgun and required ballistic fingerprinting for a firearm purchase.
When “Common Sense” Violates the Constitution
Democratic lawmakers are gutting the Second Amendment at every turn by pushing “progressive” gun control agendas that leave Americans unarmed. Criminals will continue to use illegal firearms despite the laws, leaving the law-abiding citizens as the ones who are unable to defend themselves.
The Bruen decision updated gun laws in America and redefined what could be considered a constitutional gun law, but Democratic lawmakers are doing everything in their power, including citing racist gun laws as precedent, to keep intrusive, unconstitutional gun laws on the books.
As the gun debate continues, it has become clear that the Left does not value the Second Amendment, and given a chance, would likely strike it down. Americans must become aware of the legislative overreach forced on them by Democrats and work to constantly fight back.