February 7th, 2023
Chair Smith, Vice Chair Waldstreicher, members of the Judicial Proceedings Committee:
The Montgomery County Young Democrats (MCYD) urge your support for SB 1, also known as the Gun Safety Act of 2023. This bill, which bans guns from being carried into or near places of public accommodation, will promote gun safety, help stop gun violence, and reduce threats of intimidation directed against Maryland residents.
SB 1 prohibits people from knowingly wearing, carrying, or transporting guns onto someone else’s property unless that person has expressly given permission to them or to the public. It also prohibits people from wearing, carrying, or transporting guns within 100 feet of a public accommodation. A public accommodation is defined as 1) an inn, hotel, or motel, 2) a restaurant, cafeteria, or other eating or drinking establishment, 3) a theater, sports arena (i.e. gym), concert hall, or other entertainment, transportation, or recreation venue.
Guns are dangerous weapons that kill tens of thousands of Americans every year. Over one million Americans have been shot in the past decade. In 2021, gun deaths reached their highest level in at least 40 years, with 48,830 deaths that year alone. The United States accounts for just 4% of the world’s population but for 35% of global gun suicides. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed in a gun homicide than people in other high-income countries. And this year there have already been over 41 mass shootings.
These weapons have no place in our restaurants, theaters, hotels, and other public areas. When people carry guns in these locations it often results in individuals getting hurt or killed, whether in unintentional shootings, escalating fights, or massacres. People should feel safe in public places and carrying guns creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. When people can carry guns into public accommodations, it makes it easier for mass shooters to carry out their attacks.
Additionally certain extremist groups have started wearing and carrying guns because they want to intimidate people. In Montgomery County, far-right radical groups such as the Proud Boys have gathered outside Drag Queen Story Hours and other events carrying guns in attempts to frighten readers and attendees–and these people often resort to violence if they don’t get their way. Similar examples have occurred in other parts of the country where extremist organizations with guns stand outside or inside accommodations, trying to terrorize people or shut down events. In certain cases these groups have even stood outside polling places in blatant efforts to menace people and deter them from voting. SB 1, by banning the wearing and carrying of guns near these places, will help combat these intimidation efforts.
Until recently Maryland required people to have a “good and substantial” reason to be allowed to carry concealed guns. However the Supreme Court, in one of its recent harmful decisions, declared this requirement unconstitutional. Their decision left a big gap in Maryland’s laws, allowing almost anyone to get a gun and bring it anywhere. SB 1 will fix that gap and help protect Marylanders.
When guns are everywhere, people are less safe and there is a greater risk that any dispute will turn violent–and potentially lethal. Keeping guns out of sensitive places like bars, like stadiums, like courthouses, like polling places, will help keep people safe and reduce a whole number of potential threats, not just mass shootings.
The Montgomery County Young Democrats urge the Judicial Proceedings Committee to support and favorably report SB 1. Please contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
The Montgomery County Young Democrats