Dear District 6:

As many of you know, firearm rights have been a heated topic of debate for some time now. This session, I am co-sponsoring three gun safety bills proposed by the Judicial Proceedings Committee, and I would like to tell you about them.

Senate Bills 156 and 327 authorize corrections and police officers to receive handgun permits without needing to take a State mandated course. Senate Bill 156 proposes giving an exemption from taking a mandated gun safety course in order to obtain a hand gun permit to certain retired or active duty State law enforcement and corrections officer applicants who meet certain qualifications.

Senate Bill 156 passed last year in the Judicial Proceedings Committee and in the Senate. However, it did not make it out of the House. The Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission‘s website states that police officers spend about a month training with various firearms to prepare for realistic situations in the field. They are also required to train for a minimum of 18 hours per year throughout their career.

Senate Bill 327 excuses active and retired police and corrections officers licensed in other jurisdictions from taking a State mandated course to acquire a handgun permit. According to testimony given in Committee, the training required in Maryland is comparable to neighboring states (Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.).

We have to ask why require law enforcement officers to take another course when they already have extensive training on how to use a handgun. A third bill I am co-sponsoring is Senate Bill 198 which clarifies self-defense as a good and substantial reason for a citizen to carry a firearm. Several people came to testify in support of this bill.

One person explained even though he resides Virginia, he was able to carry a handgun in Maryland based solely on the fact that he owns a business in our State. He was advocating that as a father and husband, he should be able to carry a handgun to protect his family.

During Committee testimony, Senator Hough explained under current law, elected officials like myself are believed to be in an “assumed risk” position, and legislators are, therefore, authorized to legally carry a firearm for protection.

Why are mothers who walk with their children in grocery store parking lots, or a person coming home from a graveyard shift, denied the same right our founding fathers deemed so important that it was second only to free speech?

Safety is important to not only the public at large, but also the individual, and we need to protect that right.

I look forward to hopefully seeing these bills pass out of committee and hearing them on the Senate floor in the coming weeks. While we address these issues and many others, as always, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas, please contact my office at

Sincerely, Senator Johnny Ray Salling

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