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Senate Votes to Eliminate Handgun Permit Review Board

The Maryland Senate gave final approval on Monday evening to a measure that would abolish the state’s handgun permit review board.

The panel, to which citizens can appeal concealed carry applications that have been modified or denied by the state police, has come under fire for the number of times it has overturned the decisions of law enforcement personnel.

Sen. Justin Ready (R-Carroll County) said the Democrats who control the legislature have been “in a rush” to abolish the panel because they are generally uncomfortable with guns. The handgun board members are appointed by Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

As amended, Senate Bill 1000 would send appeals of Maryland State Police concealed carry permit decisions to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

“The only check that [citizens] really have — other than the courts — is a citizen-board, appointed by the governor, approved by the state Senate,” Ready said during floor debate.

“There should always be strong civilian oversight over our police and our military.”

The measure’s primary sponsor, Sen. Pamela G. Beidle (D-Anne Arundel), said the handgun permit review board is “the only civilian oversight board that overrides a secretary’s decisions. It’s the only one in the state of Maryland, according the attorney general.”

“Last year our state police issued 4,393 handgun permits for concealed carry and renewed 5,383 renewals,” she continued. “… Our state police are not just simply refusing permits.”

The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 30-16.

In a remark, after the vote, that appeared directed at Ready, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), said, “Three years from now, when it’s a different governor, you’re going to be glad you have that bill passed.”

A House version of Beidle’s bill — HB 1343 — has not been voted on. The legislative session is scheduled to end in two weeks.

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Senate Votes to Eliminate Handgun Permit Review Board