Maryland House Democrats introduced a bill last week banning gun owners from carrying without $300,000 of liability insurance.
What are the details?
WBFF-TV reported that Del. Terri Hill introduced the legislation, which reads, “A person may not wear or carry a firearm unless the person has obtained and is covered by liability insurance issued by an insurer authorized to do business in the State under the Insurance Article to cover claims for property damage, bodily injury, or death arising from an accident resulting from the person’s use or storage of a firearm or up to $300,000 for damages arising from the same incident, in addition to interest and costs.”
While the bill’s language exempts members of the military and federal law enforcement officers from the insurance requirement, WBFF noted that the bill does not exempt state and local law enforcement officers.
Largo-based criminal defense attorney Vernon Brownlee told the station that he believes the bill may hold law enforcement officers accountable: “[This] legislation aims to enhance accountability among police officers, particularly addressing the disproportionate impact of their misuse of deadly force on the black community. In essence, the legislation introduces a mechanism whereby repeated violations of the statute could lead insurance carriers to consider an officer a liability, rendering them uninsurable.”
WBFF said it asked Hill why state and local law enforcement officers aren’t exempt from the insurance requirement, and the station said Hill replied that she would be making corrections.
Del. Cheryl Pasteur, a co-sponsor of the bill, told WBFF in a follow-up email after Hill’s phone interview that “the exception is in the bill.”
“[Del. Hill] noted she would go back, however, and make sure it is clear before going to a hearing,” Pasteur added to the station.
Maryland Fraternal Order of Police President Clyde Boatwright told WBFF that state and local law enforcement officers should have the same exemption as federal officers: “We would appreciate if our Maryland law enforcement officers received the same rights as federal officers. If our federal partners are exempt, state and local officers should be afforded that same right.”
Hill told WBFF that the idea for the legislation came from a constituent who told her that gun owners should “bear some liability in cases where there is damage because of guns being used in ways that cause harm.”
Gun advocate Frank Duffy noted to the station that the legislation is yet another effort to “chip away” at the state’s wear and carry laws: “The Supreme Court made a decision that said Maryland and other states could not require a good or substantial reason to get a permit.”
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Duffy, the co-owner and vice president of Maryland-based Spartan Firearms Training Group, said this bill is similar to the state’s handgun qualification licensing (HQL) requirement.
In November, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Maryland’s HQL regulation, siding with gun advocacy groups that said the law placed “undue burden” on citizen’s constitutional rights to obtain, own and possess a firearm.
Since the ruling, Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown’s office successfully requested for the full appeals court to rehear the case.