Late last week, the Maryland General Assembly (MD GA) voted to override Governor Hogan’s Veto of SB 208. As a result, SB 208 will become law and go into effect on March 13, 2021. As any of our Maryland readers are surely aware, the Maryland General Assembly is no friend to the Second Amendment. Senate Bill 208 and House Bill 4 were introduced in January 2020 early in the legislative session. By mid-March, they had each passed their respective legislative bodies and were on the way to Governor Hogan, who issued a veto in May 2020. Then, last week on February 12, 2021, the MD GA voted to override the veto.
What is SB 208 and why is this significant? For those not aware, MD law contains different requirements for the transfer of certain different types of firearms. Previously, and until SB 208 becomes effective on March 13th, rifles and shotguns, that did not fall into the category of assault weapons or regulated firearms, could be transferred between non-prohibited private parties without the need to conduct a background check or involve an FFL. Starting March 13th, the sale, rental, or transfer of these firearms must be facilitated by an FFL, and a NICS check conducted, and for which FFL’s are permitted to charge a “reasonable fee.” There are some exceptions to the new requirements that will be found under the new statutory citation Md. Public Safety § 5-204.1 and § 5-207 including:
- transfers involving a licensee or FFL (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(I));
- transfers between immediate family members (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(II));
- transfers involving law enforcement or military personnel in the scope of their official duties (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(III));
- transfers of a curio or relic between C&R licensees (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(IV));
- transfers of an serviceable rifle or shotgun transferred as a curio or museum piece (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(V));
- transfers of rifles or shotguns modified to be permanently inoperative (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(VI));
- transfers in which the transferee has a demonstrable religious belief against taking a portrait photograph AND does not possess any kind of license or ID with a photograph (§ 5-204.1(A)(1)(VII));
- transfers occurring by operation of law on the death of a person for whom the transferee is an executor, administrator, trustee, or personal representative of an estate or trust created in a will (§ 5-204.1(A)(2)); or
- IMPORTANT NOTE: This exception does not include transfers by operation of law to the ultimate heirs or beneficiaries
- the temporary gratuitous exchange of a rifle or shotgun (SB 208 Section 2(2)).
The veto override is additionally significant because it demonstrates not only that the MD GA has the will to attempt to enact laws furthering restrictions on firearms, but also that they have the political strength to override the Governor’s vetoes of those bills. Whether that will remain the case in the future, remains to be seen. It is more important now than ever, that you be involved in the defense of your rights. Exercise your right to vote, be an advocate to your friends, family, neighbors, and most importantly, your legislators. Make sure your voice is heard, because it can always get worse.
If you or someone you know would like to speak with an attorney regarding your legal rights and responsibilities relating to firearms law in Maryland or Pennsylvania, contact us today!