Handgun Board Without Members After General Assembly Session

    Maryland’s Handgun Permit Review Board is set to go dormant — at least temporarily.

    The General Assembly this year passed legislation to abolish the board, while simultaneously voting down three gubernatorial appointees to the five-member panel. Those appointments expired with the end of the legislative session on Monday.

    The board has one active member remaining and one vacancy.

    Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) is expected to make a decision on both whether to make new appointments and whether to allow the bill’s enactment, but has not done so yet, a spokesman said.

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

    If allowed to pass into law, Senate Bill 1000 would send appeals of state police decisions directly to the Office of Administrative Hearings. An emergency piece of legislation, it would take effect immediately upon enactment.

    The board has come under scrutiny during the Hogan administration, when gun control advocates say the board’s appointees started a trend of reversing or loosening state police recommendations on permits for concealed carry permits.

    Last year, the board reversed or modified the decisions of the Maryland State Police 222 times and sustained the agency’s decision 37 times, according to an annual report recently delivered to the General Assembly.

    Of the Maryland State Police decisions changed by the board, 77 decisions were reversed, while 145 were modified in some way.

    Supporters say civilian oversight of police is important, and the removal of permit restrictions is always for people who were granted permits by the state police.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.