March 6, 2013

Gun Control Bill Passes in Maryland State Senate

As reported by The Washington Post, and published March 1st, 2013, a version of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s gun control bill passed in the Maryland Senate on Thursday, February 28th. The bill, in its final form, had over 40 amendments. In essence, the bill would ban assault rifles, limit the size of magazines, and require licenses for handgun purchases.

A rally in support of the Governor’s bill was held outside the State House, but the rally also attracted those who wanted to voice their opposition. One sign in support of the bill read simply “Newtown,” evoking memories of the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Another read “End the Violence,” and still another read “Common Sense.”

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December 20, 2012

Weekend Gun Buyback in Baltimore Takes in 461 Guns

According to a news report by The Baltimore Sun, a gun buyback event in Baltimore had hundreds of people turning in guns, possibly spurred by the tragic elementary school shooting in Connecticut on December 14. The event, which was funded by Klein's ShopRite supermarkets, had been scheduled as a violence prevention initiative, and the buyback participants traded in their guns for a $100 gift card to the stores. The supermarket group got the buyback idea from one of its partners who had run similar events in Philadelphia.

The company secured the backing of both the Baltimore Police Department and the Baltimore City Council President, which will take the guns away and melt them down.

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A total of 461 were turned into Baltimore Police during the December 15 event. The total number of guns collected compares well with other similar efforts, though many of the weapons turned in midday were shotguns and rifles, which are rarely used to shoot individuals in Baltimore. Police report that they have recovered 2,000 guns during arrests this year.

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October 19, 2012

Police Find Bullets in Middle School Student’s Jeans, Marks Third Gun Incident in Baltimore County Schools

MD Juvenile Weapons ChargeAccording to a report in The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore County police discovered a handful of bullets in the jeans of a Deer Park Middle Magnet student after two 12 year old boys reportedly traded a Bersa .3380-caliber gun for an Xbox 360. The discovery was made after the jeans were left in a school locker room. This dangerous exchange marks the third gun-related incident in Baltimore County Schools since the school year began in late August. A shooting at Perry Hall High School also left one student seriously injured.

The gun in this exchange was legally registered to a man who lives with one of the boys who traded the gun, but presently no charges have been filed against the gun owner. The 12-year-old students were charged as juveniles with various handgun-related violations, and police state that there was no indication that the boys had plans to harm students or staff at Deer Park.

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September 14, 2012

MD Task Force Examining Laws & Policies Regarding Gun Access by Mentally Ill

MD Gun Access LawA state task force comprised of gun rights representatives, mental health advocates, and police is examining current laws and policies governing gun access by the mentally ill and may propose changes to existing guidelines. The Baltimore Sun reports that the 17-member panel will consider several different questions, including whether the criteria for finding someone dangerous should be changed, whether the 30-day state hospital that triggers a prohibition on purchasing firearms should be revised, and also whether there should be a court process for restoring gun ownership rights.

Created by legislators in the spring, the state task force is expected to make recommendations to the governor at the end of the year.

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August 30, 2012

Maryland Officials Seek to Tighten Up Maryland Gun-Buying Laws

MD Gun LawLaw enforcement and court officials in Maryland are looking at ways to enforce the state’s gun-purchasing laws more strictly, after reports of individuals whose records should not have allowed them to buy a gun in Maryland were able to do so nonetheless.

The most recent case to come under scrutiny involves a man in Prince George’s County who, despite a mental health treatment background that should have barred him from gun purchases, was found to have been “passed” through a background check and thus purchased over a dozen firearms.

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August 23, 2012

Understanding Maryland Firearm Laws and Children

Maryland has several laws that apply to firearms, especially when firearms are carried, used, or stored around children. Violating some of these laws, even unintentionally, may result in a criminal charge.

Maryland Weapons Crimes law states that “A person may not carry or possess a firearm, knife, or deadly weapon on public school property.” A person convicted of violating this law may face up to three years in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. Some exceptions exist, however, including exceptions for police officers, security guards hired by the school district, and persons who have written permission from the school to show a weapon as part of a historical or other educational lesson.

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August 8, 2012

Federal Court Delays Loosening of Maryland’s Gun Laws

Maryland Gun Law LegislationIn March 2012, a U.S. District Court judge in Maryland found that the state’s concealed-carry laws, which allowed police units to allow or deny concealed pistol licenses based on their discretion, was an unconstitutional violation of the Second Amendment. As a result of the ruling and a separate directive, new gun laws in Maryland were scheduled to go into effect this summer, however the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has issued a stay, keeping Maryland’s current law in place while the case is appealed.

Currently, Maryland law requires those who apply for concealed-carry permits to pass a background check and to demonstrate that they have a “good and substantial reason” to carry a concealed handgun. Whether the reason is sufficiently “good and substantial” is left up to the police department handling the application.

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June 6, 2012

27-Year-Old Man Arrested for Stabbing in Westminster

A 27-year-old resident of Finksburg was arrested for stabbing a man in the middle of a Westminster street, according to a report by The Baltimore Sun. Police first responded to the 200 block of E. Main Street around 5 p.m. on May 28 after receiving reports of a fight between five or six people, only to find a 37-year-old male stabbed in his left side in front of a pizza restaurant. After conducting an official investigation, police learned that a fight had broken out between the girlfriends of the alleged stabber and the victim, and the men had stepped in to try and break it up before it escalated.

The stabbing victim was transported to Maryland Shock Trauma for treatment and later released. The 27-year-old, who resides in the 1600 block of Deer Park Road in Finksburg, has been charged with concealing a dangerous weapon, possession of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure someone, and first-degree assault. At press time, a police spokesman stated he was unsure whether the arrested man had been processed or received bail at the Carroll County Detention Center.

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March 12, 2012

Federal Judge in MD Rules State’s Handgun Permit Provision Unconstitutional

Maryland Handgun LawAccording to a Washington Post report, a federal judge has ruled that state residents no longer need to show that they have a good reason to carry a handgun outside of their home. This essentially declares a key provision in Maryland’s gun control laws unconstitutional. Maryland residents were required to have a “good and substantial reason” to carry a gun, such as a precaution against apprehended danger, but the U.S. District Judge determined the requirement violated the Second Amendment and was too broad. Under state law, applicants for a carry permit are also required to show that they do not have a history of violence, are not addicted to drugs or alcohol, and have not been convicted of a crime and sentenced to more than a year behind bars; those requirements still stand.

The case centered on a Navy veteran who was denied a handgun permit in 2009. Following a 2002 break-in and attempted robbery in Maryland by the veteran’s son-in-law, who illegally entered into the man’s Baltimore County home high on drugs and searched for the man’s car keys, the man applied for and was granted a permit to carry a handgun. After the son-in-law’s release from prison, he was allowed to renew his permit in 2006, but was denied three years later, prompting the veteran to appeal to Maryland’s Handgun Permit Review Board. The Board ruled that the man did not show a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun as a precaution against apprehended danger and the man sued in the summer of 2010.

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December 13, 2011

Two Felons Arrested Following Routine Traffic Stop in Carroll County

According to the Elderburg Patch, Maryland State Troopers arrested two convicted felons this week for possession of drugs and guns after they were stopped for speeding on Route 97 in Westminster. Just before midnight, state troopers stopped the felons’ Toyota SUV for exceeding the speed limit and the senior trooper conducted a search with his K9 dog due to suspicions that the suspects were in possession of illegal drugs. The dog alerted the troopers to the presence of drugs, and following a search of the vehicle, they found drug paraphernalia and a small amount of marijuana.

Reports indicate that the state troopers found two loaded Springfield semi automatic guns with the serial numbers scratched off. A search of the vehicle also turned up ski masks, stockings, and black jackets, leading them to believe the two men were involved in other criminal activity. According to police, both men are currently being held at the Carroll County Detention Center on $500,000 bond.

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February 10, 2011

Maryland Concealed Weapons Bill Sparks Debate

A new bill introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates would make concealed carry permits issued by Delaware, Pennsylvania, or Virginia valid in Maryland, according to The Carroll County Times. Currently, under Maryland law, if a private citizen wants to carry a concealed handgun they must have a permit to do so. Permits can only be obtained if a person shows evidence of recent threats, robberies, or assaults with official police documentation.

The delegate who introduced the bill wants to make it possible for Maryland residents to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. The bill would allow out-of-state residents to carry a gun in Maryland and will give Maryland residents the chance to receive concealed carry permits from the surrounding states. The bill currently remains in the House Judiciary Committee.

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February 8, 2011

Baltimore Mayor Wants Additional Gun Control Measures

The mayor of Baltimore announced that she supports new gun control measures, according to WBC Radio.

The mayor supports two bills that were recently introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates and the Maryland Senate. The bill that was introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates gives individuals that are convicted of using a gun to commit a felony a 5-to-15-year prison sentence. The bill introduced in the Maryland Senate imposes an 18-month to 10 year sentence on anyone convicted of owning an illegal firearm. The mayor says that those bills target only criminals and not legal gun owners.

If these bills become law, more people will be serving longer sentences in Maryland prisons for Maryland crimes involving weapons. Maryland gun laws can be complex. Most people who are arrested for breaking gun laws in Maryland are either people who want to own a firearm, but their criminal past makes it illegal, or owners of handguns who didn’t realize they were breaking the law.

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January 27, 2011

Prince George's County Police Make 100 Arrests in Two Days

Due to a dramatic jump in homicides in Prince George’s County, more officers are now on the streets in areas that are designated as dangerous. Over a recent two night period, those officers made approximately 100 arrests, according to myfoxdc.com.

In the first 11 days of 2011, there were 13 homicides in Prince George’s County. Because of that shocking burst of crime, the county put 150 extra officers on the streets. The county has received help from the FBI, ATF, DEA, and the Maryland State Police. Also, the police chief moved officers into the Criminal Investigation Division, the narcotics division, and federal task forces.

As a result of the additional officers, not only have 100 arrests taken place in a short period of time, but also many guns and drugs have been recovered. The police are determined to stop the crime wave. In 2007, Prince George’s county also had a similar spike in crime in January, and the police were able to stop it from continuing.

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May 18, 2010

Multiple Baltimore Shootings Now Under Police Investigation

Maryland ABC affiliate WJZ reported recently that a rash of Baltimore shootings is now under police investigation. In one incident on April 16, two men were shot and wounded. Both men were taken to Sinai Hospital, where one, who had been shot in the head, was pronounced dead upon arrival. The other, who suffered injuries to his back, remains in critical condition at Sinai.

Another shooting the same night resulted from a botched home invasion. Two men attempting to enter a home were confronted by the 23-year-old resident, who was shot in the incident. The 23-year-old was taken to Johns Hopkins, where he was pronounced dead. Police have made one arrest in that Maryland violent crime case.

Later that same night, a 30-year-old man was shot during an argument outside a liquor store. The shooter remains at large, while the victim is expected to recover.

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January 26, 2010

Man Accused of Shooting Clerk at Drive-Through Window

A Columbia man was recently arrested and charged with wounding a Dunkin’ Donuts clerk in Anne Arundel County. Police reported that on December 12, 2009 a clerk was shot through a drive-through window after refusing to comply with demands for cash from a man who came to the drive-through window armed with a shotgun. The wounded clerk was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center for treatment of serious injuries. The 21-year-old alleged shooter was captured by the police department’s Special Enforcement Team and has been charged with attempted murder.

An attempted murder charge is a form of assault and since the man was carrying a gun, charges may be increased. Penalties could include extended prison time and large fines. Although it is legal to own a gun in the U.S., most citizens are prohibited from carrying one on their person in public. If law enforcement suspects you of carrying a gun, they can legally search you and your vehicle.

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January 7, 2010

Maryland Pushes for Stricter Gun Laws

The state of Maryland has recently been marked with an increase in gun violence, homicides and police involved shootings, especially in Baltimore City. One solution that many are vying for is stricter gun laws and sentencing for gun offenders as well as no credit for good behavior to shorten prison time. The governor supports harsher legislation for gun violence and better prosecution to put offenders in jail for longer periods of time. However, tougher gun laws have failed in the past few years and leaders are planning to push for stricter legislation in the next year.

The second amendment of the constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. However protection laws can be confusing to legal gun owners. Many people who face firearm charges in Maryland have criminal records; however, there are also many individuals charged who are legal owners of firearms who did not know they were breaking the law. Many prosecutors and leaders in Maryland agree with stricter gun legislation and will continue to push for reform. This means that even small violations can hold a mandatory minimum jail sentence.

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November 18, 2009

NBA Player Faces Maryland Concealed Weapons Charges

After being arrested for speeding on a motorcycle and carrying multiple weapons, an NBA player was indicted recently on additional weapons and traffic charges related to his September arrest. According to an nba.com story, the athlete was riding a motorcycle along the Capital Beltway in Prince George’s County at 10 p.m. while carrying two loaded handguns and a loaded shotgun. A recent addition to the list of concealed weapons being carried by the man included an 8 ½-inch Bowie knife.

The article explains that it is illegal in the State of Maryland to carry concealed weapons and to transport loaded handguns. The misdemeanor charges that this man now faces include:

  • Two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon

  • Two counts of carrying a handgun

  • Two counts of transporting a handgun

  • One count reckless driving

  • One count negligent driving

Each of the weapon counts carries a penalty of up to three years in prison if the athlete is convicted. When the initial charges were filed, the man was facing only two counts of carrying a handgun and with driving in excess of reasonable and prudent speed.

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October 27, 2009

National Pagans Motorcycle Club President is One of 55 Arrested

A man from Myersville, Maryland, considered to be the President of the National Pagans Motorcycle Club, has been accused of leading the supposedly wide-spread outlaw biker gang in extortion, robbery, kidnapping, plotting to commit murder, weapons violations, and drug dealing, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia. Based on a baltimoresun.com report, more than 50 members and associates of the alleged gang are accused of conspiracy to kill and extort rival bikers in order to establish themselves as the top gang of bikers in the area. Those accused are reported to be in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida.

According to the article, within the 44-count, 83-page indictment document against those arrested, it is stated: “The PMC and its existing support clubs unlawfully threatened and intimidated people who wanted to start a motorcycle club in the PMC territory.” The article also mentioned that federal prosecutors are in search of holding the alleged leaders, including the Maryland man, and 20 others, without bail.

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October 22, 2009

Study Shows that Risk of Being Shot and Killed Increases for those Carrying Guns

According to an article from newscientist.com, a group of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a study that has citizens across the U.S. contemplating the risk of carrying a loaded weapon. Apparently, in examining 677 shootings over a period of two and a half years to see if victims were carrying a gun at the time, the study found that individuals who carry guns are 4.5 times as likely to be shot and 4.2 times as likely to be killed compared to an unarmed individual. The research also showed that the chances of a victim being shot were even higher in incidents where he or she had an opportunity to defend themselves with a gun.

Based on the article, this study is considered by its operators to be just the beginning in answering whether possessing a gun is an act that creates protection or welcomes threat. Even though one of the study’s researches said that the results may represent how carrying a gun gives a person a false sense of immortality or empowerment, this study’s intention does not appear to be intended to infringe upon the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.

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August 25, 2009

Maryland Bank Robber Sentenced to 56 Plus Years in Prison

An article published in the Northern Virginia Daily recently discusses the case of a Winchester man convicted of robbing a Maryland bank with his grandson. The 54-year-old must serve more than 56 years in prison for robbing one bank in 2007 and attempting to rob another lending institution a month later. The official sentence handed down by Judge Catherine C. Blake sentences the man to 56 years and eight months according to information provided in a press release issued by the office of U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

When the sentence was announced in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, the accused made no statement. A federal jury found the man guilty of various firearms violations and armed bank robbery in March 2009 stemming from a robbery that occurred on October 22, 2007. According to the press release, the man robbed the M&T Bank in Hagerstown of $33,888. In the course of committing the robbery and fleeing the scene, the man fired a shotgun at a police vehicle, stole a handgun, and held a mother and daughter hostage at gunpoint for several hours while he eluded law enforcement officials.

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August 6, 2009

Police Looking for Three Armed Men in Dry Cleaner Robbery

Law enforcement authorities are looking for three men in connection with an armed robbery that took place on June 20, 2009. An article published in the University of Maryland’s independent daily student newspaper Diamondback Online, claims that three armed men robbed a dry cleaning business on Route 1 as the store was opening for business. According to a University of Maryland crime alert report, three men entered the rear door of the dry cleaner located in the 7200 block of Baltimore Avenue as it opened for business around 6:30 in the morning. The report said that each of the men displayed a handgun during the robbery, allegedly took money from the cash register and personal property from the employees, and then fled in a burgundy Jeep Cherokee with Maryland license plate 545M727.

At the time the article was published, law enforcement officials investigating the robbery had not yet found the Jeep Cherokee and did not know whether or not the Jeep had been stolen for the purpose of committing the robbery. They also did not release how much money had been taken from the dry cleaner’s register or what personal property had been stolen from the store’s employees. The suspects are described as 18-to 25-year-old black men around 5’8” to 5’10” in height wearing dark clothing with medium to dark complexions.

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April 2, 2009

Baltimore Shooting Puts Man in Critical Condition

In the rundown of the Baltimore police blotter for March 10, 2009, the Baltimore Sun notes in an account that a 19-year-old northeastern Baltimore man is in critical condition after being shot in the face during the early morning hours of March 9, 2009. Currently, the Maryland assault with a firearm case is under investigation, and no charges have been filed.

Given the limited amount of information available, should an arrest be made, felony assault with a firearm charges seem likely. Felony assault in Maryland is the attempt to intentionally cause serious harm to another, successful or not. In this case, the victim received injuries severe enough to warrant hospitalization, so the possibility of the state tendering second-degree assault charges is very remote, especially since those injuries were inflicted using a firearm. In Maryland, felony first-degree assault carries a maximum prison sentence of 25 years.

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March 31, 2009

Baltimore Stabbing Death Results in Arrest

Baltimore police have arrested Eddy M. Castillo-Diaz, 21, in connection with a stabbing death that took place February 22, 2009, in East Baltimore. According to a Baltimore Sun story, Mr. Castillo-Diaz is a native of Honduras, and police believe that he is in the United States illegally.

Mr. Castillo-Diaz has been charged with first-degree murder in Maryland, assault and weapons charges. Under Maryland law, first-degree murder can be punished by the death penalty,* life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, or life imprisonment. Should the State choose this as a capital case, the accused must be notified in writing of this intent at least 30 days before the start of the trial.

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March 24, 2009

Woodlawn Roadway Shooting Considered First Degree Assault

A review of the Baltimore Sun’s police blotter report for Saturday, March 7, 2009, reveals that three people were arrested and charged with first-degree assault in Maryland in connection with a roadway-shooting incident that took place during the early morning hours in the Woodlawn area.

According to the blotter record, the three individuals were driving in the Woodlawn area and at approximately 3:30 a.m., one of the individuals allegedly discharged a .32 caliber handgun at the driver of another car. Fortunately the shot missed, and the driver reported the incident to law enforcement officials.

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February 17, 2009

Baltimore County Man Sought in Shooting Death of Middle River Woman

The Baltimore Sun reports that the Baltimore County police are searching for 26-year-old Warren Jerome Yates of Dundalk in connection with a fatal shooting.

Police allege that on January 7, 2009, Yates sold another man $4000 worth of marijuana. The other man passed Yates a roll of bills to pay for the drugs, but only one of the bills was real.

The purchaser fled when Yates discovered the ruse, then Yates drew a gun and fired two shots at the man.

One of the shots struck 58-year-old Shirley Worcester, a Middle River resident who was standing outside of her home. The bullet hit Worcester in the chest, fatally wounding her.

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February 10, 2009

Teen Weapon Charges

It is an unfortunate reality of today’s world that teenagers are more often involved in weapons charges. From the Washington Post, we see the story of 17-year-old Patrick S. Yevsukov, who pleaded guilty on January 9, 2009, to charges stemming from the discovery last summer of firearms and explosives at the home of a friend, Collin McKenzie-Gude of Bethesda.

Given the highly-charged political climate calling for increased criminal penalties, teenagers in weapons cases are often charged as adults. In Yevsukov’s case, he was charged as a juvenile and eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of manufacture or possession of an explosive device, along with unauthorized access to a computer and theft.

McKenzie-Gude’s case is still pending. An earlier Post story details the efforts of the defense attorney for McKenzie-Gude, who asked that he be charged as a juvenile since the events associated with the crime took place while he was seventeen.

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