Firearms are prohibited in areas of public assembly

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Unanimously, the Montgomery County Council, in Maryland, approved Tuesday the 15th legislation that prohibits the possession of firearms in or near places of public assembly, with certain exemptions.

The project was sponsored by the president of the council, Gabe Albornoz, who found the full support of the full councillors.

The new legislation also removes an exemption that allows people with certain firearms permits to carry them within 100 yards of a place of public assembly.

“I still believe that weapons create far more problems, often with tragic results, than they try to solve,” Albornoz said in statements to the press.

“This legislation will help ensure that we do everything possible to minimize the number of guns in our public,” he added.

He also expressed his confidence that the Maryland General Assembly will take action in the same direction, "but given the urgency of armed violence in our community, we could not wait to take action at the local level."

During the debate it was determined that following the June 23 ruling of the United States Supreme Court, which declared the proper cause requirement in New York State's concealed carry law unconstitutional, many similar state laws across the country have been affected.

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan ordered the Maryland State Police on July 5 to suspend the state's existing "good and substantial reason" standard when reviewing applications for use and transportation permits, substantially reducing the barrier to arms licenses of this nature.

Albornoz noted that Montgomery County is facing “an epidemic of gun violence” that, according to national trends, has been exacerbated following the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • In 2022, there were 11 firearm-related homicides in the county.
  • Montgomery Police recovered 1,053 weapons, of which 165 are Privately Manufactured Firearms (PMFs), also known as “ghost weapons.”
  • These numbers show a significant increase over the data recorded last year.
  • In all of 2021, the Police Department recovered a total of 1,192 weapons, of which 72 were PMF.

The new Montgomery County law does not apply to a law enforcement officer or security guard licensed to carry a firearm, nor would it apply to possession of a firearm or ammunition, other than a ghost weapon or an undetectable weapon, on the person's property, their own home, or a business where the owner or designated employee has a permit to carry a firearm.

In 2021, the Council unanimously passed legislation spearheaded by Councilmember Albornoz that would restrict the sale and transfer of ghost guns to minors.

That legislation was followed by the Maryland legislature's passage of a state Senate bill in March 2022, “closing a dangerous loophole that makes it more difficult for law enforcement to protect the public by banning ghost guns in the entire state,” according to Albornoz.

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