Can you imagine having to obtain a state-sanctioned “freedom of religion” license? And then before you actually attend your church, having to submit an application to the state so that it may approve your place of worship?
You can also envision the official rejection letter one would receive, “Your application to attend St. Michael’s, Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, has been denied. St. Michael’s is not on the state’s list of approved places of worship.”
Well, that’s what it’s like for law-abiding Maryland residents who wish to exercise their Constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms, specifically handguns.
Note, I said “law-abiding” for a reason because we all know the gangbangers and drug dealers of Baltimore and other high-crime cities and towns around the state have no problem scoring firearms. It’s only the law-abiding citizens who have to wade through the red tape.
If you’re not familiar with how it works in the Free State (that nickname gets more ironic every day), thanks to a package of misguided gun laws passed in 2013, residents have to obtain a Handgun Qualification License (HQL), submit an application to the state police licensing division and wait 7 days before they are allowed to purchase a “regulated firearm.”
The big change announced this week is that instead of having to submit a handwritten purchase application, prospective purchasers will have the option of using an online portal starting Jan 1., 2017. The hope is that this will help hasten the process.
“It helps everybody in the process, particularly the buyer and the dealer, the firearms dealer, because there’s no paperwork. There’s no problem with maybe, illegible handwriting, and you can submit the application and pay that $10 application fee online,” Elena Russo, with the Maryland State Police, told WBAL.
Prospective gun purchasers will need to set up an account with the state police licensing division.
“We’re really trying to make sure that everybody is, has a complete understanding of how this portal will work, so we’re doing training with dealers, people like you that want to come and see how it will work. We want to show how simple and efficient it will be,” Russo said.
Who is Russo kidding? There’s nothing simple and efficient about Maryland’s gun-buying process. It’s not only burdensome, it’s unconstitutional. The burden is on the state to prove why one cannot purchase a firearm, not on the individual to prove that he can lawfully possess one. Over the years, we’ve allowed states to flip the paradigm because we’ve been sold the lie that “background checks, registration schemes, application paperwork, fingerprint cards, waiting periods, and licensing fees.” save lives and stop bad people from obtaining firearms. Reality check. They don’t.
All that nonsense does is chill the 2A rights of law-abiding citizens. Meanwhile, bad guys can still obtain firearms via theft, straw purchasers or the black market. Of course, that’s assuming that the bad guy has a criminal record. If he doesn’t (most mass killers have no criminal record that would disqualify them from purchasing a firearm), guess what, he’s allowed to buy a gun — from a private seller, at gun show or from a gun dealer the same as your or me.
The reality is that the people of Maryland have been hoodwinked by their government. They aren’t any safer with this elaborate process in place. But they are less free.
A quick side note: The safety of a public has very little to do with the number of laws on the books. Rather, public safety is determined by the number of threats in a given environment relative to the number of armed citizens and public servants aka police officers prepared to confront and/or eliminate those threats. The more armed good guys, the safer the public. The more armed good guys, the harder it is for bad guys to do bad things.