Md. lawmakers want to eliminate Handgun Permit Review Board

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The same group of Annapolis lawmakers that wants to ban bump stocks wants to eliminate the state’s five-member Handgun Permit Review Board.

At a news conference Thursday, Maryland Sen. Richard Madaleno, D-Montgomery County, said the group of governor-appointed members have reversed the decision of the Maryland State Police at a rate three times that of previous boards.

“We need to have these appeals go to the office of Administrative Hearings where professional judges can make decisions about whether or not someone should have a permit,” Madaleno said.

Citing the decisions by the review board, Del. Vanessa Atterbeary of Howard County told reporters: “We have a governor who’s got a board appointed that thinks they’re on the Oprah Winfrey show; ‘You get a gun! And you get a gun! And you get a gun!’” she said, riffing on the meme based on the talk show host’s car giveaway.

The attempt to do away with the review board wouldn’t deny handgun permit applicants the right to appeal the decision made by Maryland State Police. Instead of going before the five appointees, they would find their cases before administrative judges.

“They’ll still have an opportunity to appeal it — we just won’t have a politically appointed board with their own philosophies on guns overruling the state police,” said Michael Busch, the Speaker of the Maryland House and a supporter of the bill.

Gov. Larry Hogan’s office disputes the assertion that the number of reversals has increased under the board. Deputy Communications Director Amelia Chasse said that the average percentage of cases reversed by the board has decreased.

In 2007, eight of 11 cases were overturned. No figures were available for 2013 and 2014. The figures supplied by Hogan’s office is based on an audit from the Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services. The figures do show that in 2017, nearly half the cases heard by the board were overturned, with 144 cases still pending.

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