MARYLAND, USA — Second Amendment supporters in Maryland predict a Supreme Court ruling striking down state restrictions on permits to carry guns will result in a flood of new applications for permits.
Mark Pennak is president of a Second Amendment advocacy group Maryland Shall Issue. The organization is currently suing Maryland over its requirement that only citizens with "good and substantial reasons" can be issued permits to carry handguns outside an owner's home. Maryland is one of six states with such restrictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar New York law Thursday, making such restrictions unconstitutional. In a 6-3 ruling, the court found that the New York law requiring applicants to demonstrate “proper cause” to receive a concealed carry permit violated the Second and Fourteenth amendments by prohibiting Americans from practicing “ordinary self-defense needs.” The Constitution protects “an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas.
"Right now there are about 27,000 permits in all of Maryland, and I'm thinking that will more than quadruple," Pennak predicted.
Many Democrats in Maryland say more people carrying guns will mean more bloodshed.
“I don’t think more guns makes Prince George’s County, or Maryland, or the United States any safer,” said former Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn Ivey, who is now running for Congress. "Flashpoints become extra dangerous when everybody's got a firearm."
Ivey cited road rage incidents, and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs as examples.
Maryland’s Attorney General Brian Frosh criticized the courts' ruling.
“Today’s decision means more deaths and more pain in a country already awash in gun violence," Frosh said in a written statement.
But Pennak argues that Marylanders will be safer because criminals will be less likely to prey on citizens if they might be legally armed.
“Permit holders are among the most law-abiding people on the face of the earth," Pennak said.
According to policies overseen by Maryland's State Police, applicants for permits to carry guns must have proof of the need. Business owners who carry money, people who have received protective orders after threats, judges and legislators are among those who have been able to receive permits to carry guns in Maryland.
The Supreme Court ruling means states can no longer require such special reasons and that permits to carry a gun must be granted to anyone who qualifies.
Qualifications in Maryland include passing an enhanced background check, including a mental health history review, and completing a 60-hour training course.