From Del. Kathy Szeliga:
Hello and welcome to another Szeliga Weekly Update! This is our last full week in Annapolis and it has been busy with a lot of debate around gun control legislation and driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. In this edition, I will address the 2013 firearms bill, and the so called 2013 Highway Safety Act.
Gun Bill of 2013 – summary
The controversial 2013 Firearms Safety Act passed the House of Delegates this week on a vote of 78-61. This bill restricts our 2nd Amendment rights. Here are some highlights from the bill that passed.
The bill is prospective and not retroactive. Owners of assault weapons can keep their guns. After October 1 they can only sell them to a federal firearms dealer. These firearms may also be passed on as an inheritance when the owner dies.
Copycat weapons are also banned. A copy cat weapon is defined as a centerfire, semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine that has two or more of the following features:
1. folding stock
2. grenade or flare launcher
3. flash suppressor
The copycat also includes;
1. a semi-automatic centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with a capacity of more than 10 rounds.
2. semi-automatic pistol with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds
3. semi-automatic shotgun that has a folding stock
4. a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
Exceptions to the ban include manufacturers, dealers, importers, active law enforcement officers or military folks, testing facilities etc.
Magazine Capacity Reduction – Magazine size for all firearms is restricted to 10 rounds or less. The bill is not retroactive. Any person who possesses a large capacity magazine may continue to do so. The purchase, manufacture, transfer or sale is prohibited. Possession is not a crime. Exceptions include active or retired law enforcement, active military, dealers, manufacturers, importers, etc.
Handgun Qualification License
Any one not exempted from this provision who wishes to purchase a handgun after October 1, 2013 must apply to the Maryland State Police for a handgun qualification license. The initial license will cost $50. The applicant is required to complete 4 hours of hands on firearms training to include classroom and time at a range. The training is a onetime only requirement for the initial issuance of the license. You must also submit fingerprints for a criminal background check. The training and background checks are at the applicant’s expense. The background check is approximately $54.00.
You do not need a license if you currently own a handgun or assault weapon. You only need the license if you are going to purchase a handgun after October 1, 2013. The license is good for 10 years and you are not required to take a second training course or submit fingerprints when you apply to renew the license. A renewal fee of $20 is required. Exceptions to the License: Active and retired military and police are exempt from the license requirement but must show valid credentials to a dealer to purchase.
Exceptions to the training component but must still get the license:
1. someone who completed an MSP approved certified safety course
2. has completed the DNR hunter safety course
3. is currently a qualified handgun instructor
4. is an honorably discharged member of the armed forces or national guard
5. is an employee of an armored car company who has a handgun permit issued by MSP.
6. LAWFULLY OWNS A REGULATED FIREARM – this is a big exception. If you already own a gun you do not have to ever complete the training to apply for the handgun purchase license.
Mental Health Provisions – There are several provisos that prohibit folks from possessing or purchasing firearms; voluntary commitment of more than 30 days, involuntary commitment, or certain orders of guardianship.
A more complete assessment will be available next week. Additionally, I will be sure to keep you up to date on any action on a petition drive to get the bill on the ballot in 2014.
Driver’s Licenses for Illegal immigrants
Another controversial issue this session was to grant driver’s licenses to people who are not legally present in the United States. If an applicant has filed income taxes in Maryland for the last two years (I’ve been assured that these tax returns will be verified with the Comptroller’s office), they can get a Maryland Driver’s license. I voted against this bill. While I am empathetic towards children who have been brought to our country illegally, immigration must be dealt with at the federal level. This is bad public policy to give identification and driving privileges to people who are not here legally and therefore could avoid responsibility for dangerous actions by fleeing our country.
Monday is Sine Die, the last day of the 90 day legislative session. I will provide you will a wrap up of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly legislative session next week.
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please keep them coming my way.
Delegate Kathy Szeliga