By Eric Beasley
I have been working on this article for a few days now. I took the time to interview numerous folks and ensure that I could paint the entire picture at once. There are some stories where time is of the essence, however this story deserved a complete thought. Not click-bait politically-motivated analysis.
Last week, the Hagerstown Herald-Mail published an article discussing the status of wear and carry permits in Maryland. The article discussed an alleged a change in Maryland State Police procedures which allow more residents to receive a Permit to Carry Firearms within the State, by allowing individuals conducting “business” in potentially dangerous situations to use said business as justification for “good and substantial reason.”
I heard some minor rumblings about the article. Nothing serious, just the standard stuff.
The outrage came when a click-bait Maryland-based blog decided to write an article, repeating the claims made by the Herald-Mail. Here’s a sampling of the public comments made about the article.
From the President of Maryland Shall Issue:
Jack McCauley, retired MSP Trooper and former head of the Firearm Licensing Division (more from him later):
Paul Brockman, Hogan supporter and not a card-carrying member of the alleged “cults”:
I spoke with 2 people on the record about this article, Maryland carry permits, and 2A issues here in the state. The first was the administrator of the Facebook Page 2A in MD. Over the course of a day, they responded to the following questions which I posed:
- Has there been any changes to the CCW permitting process?
- Are there any public statistics as to how many permits are active within the state today compared to 2 years ago under O’Malley?
- What are the “requirements” for the vacant seat on the Handgun Permit Review Board?
- Are you a cult? (sarcasm intended)
- I’ve heard rumors or a meeting between you and the Governor to discuss 2A issues. Is there anything that you would be willing to let me publish (anonymously or attributed) about that meeting?
- Anything else you would like to add about the Herald-Mail article that was not posted publicly?
According to 2A in MD, the last time any regulations or procedures governing carry permits in Maryland were changes was October 2013, after the “Firearms Safety Act” of 2013 added a training requirement to the permitting process. There is also speculation that some standard operating procedures were changed by the MSP in August 2015, but there are no public copies of previous SOPs to compare to.
When asked about the number of active permits, it seems that such information is currently in public disclosure limbo. These statistics have been PIA’d, but the information has yet to be released. They claim a small increase this year, compared to 2 years ago.
For some background, Governor Hogan tried to appoint Dick Jurgena to the Handgun Permit Review Board. This nomination was quashed in the State Senate. Within this board, I got the sense that the MSP have been exercising extreme influence with this board (more on that later).
According to 2A in MD, the Handgun Permit Review Board under O’Malley was not acting like a legitimate government organization. Everything from failure to comply with the Open Meetings Act, refused to even schedule hearings for folks appealing their permit denial, and no records, minutes, or vote tallies were kept.
I found this most interesting, instead of allowing review cases to make it to the board, the MSP has been actively undermining the civilian oversight provided by this board. Instead of allowing justified cases of “good and substantial reason” to be heard and publicly decided, they are approving permits administratively before a public hearing, which would establish precedent for other Maryland residents.
In response to the cult question, it seems that the 2A in MD admin is just about as snarky as I am. The 2A community was called a cult numerous times, and they made sure to point out that this was right after sponsor plugs, the District 32 Republican Club and the Conservative Club of Maryland. #ISeeWhatYouDidThere
The meeting with Governor Hogan about Second Amendment issues appears to just be a rumor. Sorry guys.
About the Hagerstown Herald-Mail article, 2A in MD stated that the following:
My major problem, is that as an advocate of the 2A, I’m working as hard as i can to change the laws and interpretation of those laws here in MD. If some journalist puts out a front page article based on one guy’s advertisement gimmick, I’d call that irresponsible. My worry was that Hogan would actually be attacked for making a change that he didn’t actually make, hence my comment about putting us in a position of defending the status quo. In addition to blame towards Hogan from our opposition, I don’t want the Governor getting credit for making changes he didn’t make. I guess Mr Kline didn’t understand that, but my comment was directed to the 1000’s of active and knowledgeable 2A believing people that do understand.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Jack McCauley over the phone. Let me start off by saying that Mr. McCauley has a most interesting background. He is retired from the Maryland State Police and used to be in charge of the Licensing Division. He was also involved in various task forces and assignment related to gangs and firearms.
McCauley echoed the sentiment from 2A in MD, stating that there has been no changes at all to the carry permit process in the state. According to him, there have been “changes, but not improvements.”
Concerning the number of permits in the state, he indicated that over the last 2 years the total number of permits has increased from ~12,500 to ~16,500. These changes were not due to policy changes, but due to applicant education. Citizens have learned how to operating within the system better and articulate “good and substantial reason” well enough to be approved.
Regarding the Handgun Permit Review Board, McCauley cited this organization as the only improvement. Under O’Malley, this organization would only rubber stamp the gun-grabbing agenda. At least today, they are slightly more independent in thought, when not being undermined by the MSP. According to McCauley, the unofficial requirement for being appoint to the Handgun Permit Review Board is being black, female, or hispanic. No other qualifications are needed.
When I asked if McCauley was a cult member, his answer was surprising to me and very clear. He does not take part in any 2A groups at all. None. He expressed a sincere desire to actually reduce gun crime and protect individual rights, in accordance with the oath that he swore to.
Concerning the meeting with Hogan, McCauley has asked many times to meet with the Governor. He has not received a response.
In the free question, McCauley reiterated that he does like Governor Hogan. However, he also stated that Hogan has done nothing for the 2A community and that civil liberties are being trampled in this state. He believes that the Governor does not understand 2A issues at all and that he is receive piss-poor advice on how to handle them.
While this subject came up at the beginning of the interview with McCauley, for formatting purposes I have moved it to the end. Now, we all know that Maryland is not the most civil liberties friendly state in the Country. But frankly, I was aghast at a story that I heard from McCauley.
According to him, the MSP have been illegally using the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Hunting List to arrest firearm owners for many years. This activity was happening under O’Malley. I asked if the activity was still happening, and he said that based on some recent arrests, he suspects this tactic is still being used under the Hogan Administration. What exactly do I mean when I say illegal?
Here’s the breakdown of what the MSP is doing.
- An individual applies for and receives a hunting license. The MSP looks to see if anyone on this list has a criminal record.
- When a person successfully kills an animal while hunting, the kill is registered on the harvest list.
- On that harvest list is the type of weapon used.
- If the weapon is a firearm, then the MSP get’s their SWAT team together and kicks down their door at 4 AM.
McCauley recounted a story of a man who was victimized by the MSP in this manner. Sixteen years prior, the man was found guilty of domestic assault. Interestingly, the man was still married to this same person. The man purchased a firearm post-verdict and passed the background check. After he successfully purchased the firearm, Maryland passed a law making him a prohibited person. Then when he went to hunt, the SWAT team kicked down his door in the middle of the night to take his firearms.
You might be thinking, “well, we don’t want domestic abusers to have firearms.” That’s a valid and reasonable opinion to hold. Here’s the problem, MSP took the man’s firearms but did not charge him with a crime. If this man was such a danger to society that a SWAT team had to kick down his door in the middle of the night, why is he still free to live in society? Shouldn’t society be protected from people that are so dangerous?
I’m going to take the opportunity to editorialize here. The Maryland State Police are not interested in preventing gun violence. They are interested in low-hanging fruit to make it appear as if they are doing something to stop the violence.
It’s easy to put on your Soldier-gear and kick down the door of some 50 year old farmer in Carroll County, take a few hunting rifles, and do a victory dance, claiming that you took dangerous weapons out of the hands of a violent criminal.
It’s hard to put on your Soldier-gear and kick down the door of the headquarters for the Sinaloa Cartel and face off against former Mexican military mercenaries with automatic weapons and comparable training.
As a father, husband, and son, I understand the fear. I’ve been there, I’ve done that.
As a soldier, if you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
When you put on that uniform, you are fulfilling a solemn oath. You are the gatekeeper between the barbarian hordes and civilized society. It is your job to go into these dangerous situations, and in fulfilling that duty you might not make it home. If you are too afraid to do whatever necessary, including putting your life on the line, then find a new career.