Citing support for the Second Amendment, a desire for personal protection, and fear that a newly elected governor could curtail gun rights in Maryland, dozens of Carroll County residents have been flocking to sign up for classes required to obtain a “Wear and Carry” permit in the state.
Ever since Gov. Larry Hogan directed the Maryland State Police in early July to suspend the state’s “good and substantial reason” standard for obtaining a permit to carry a concealed handgun, demand for firearms classes in Carroll has soared, according to two local instructors.
In late June, the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that required anyone who wanted to carry a concealed firearm to demonstrate a “proper cause” for doing so; a similar law also existed in Maryland, which required residents to prove they have a “special need” or a “good and substantial reason” to carry a concealed firearm before issuing permits.
After Hogan’s directive, some Democratic Maryland lawmakers expressed concerns.
House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a July tweet that the Maryland House of Delegates would be looking “at every option to curb the proliferation of guns on the street.”
She pointed to recent mass shootings in Illinois and Pennsylvania as evidence that “more guns do not make us safer.
“We will pass meaningful and reasonable limitations to ensure the safety of our families and children,” Jones wrote.
And Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson told the Baltimore Sun in July he is looking to the 2023 legislative session to address compliance with the Supreme Court’s opinion.
“Next session, the Maryland General Assembly will pass legislation that adheres to the new precedent set by this Supreme Court while ensuring reasonable restrictions to keep our families and communities safe,” Ferguson said in a statement. “Now more than ever in history, we must pass laws protecting all Marylanders from potential gun violence.”
Since Hogan’s directive in July, Brandon Farley, owner of Master Class Firearms Training LLC in Mount Airy, said he has seen a 500% uptick in requests for his wear and carry permit classes.
Farley, who lives in Carroll County and works as a police officer elsewhere in Maryland, has offered handgun qualification courses for about two years. He is a Maryland State Police qualified handgun instructor and a Maryland Police Training Commission firearms instructor.
“There is a lot of excitement surrounding this. I used to have four to six people every three months before the law changed. Now I’m getting messages, emails and Facebook [messages] all the time,” Farley said. “The demand is so high for fear [the law] could be reversed by a new governor.”
Richard Kreitzer, owner of Academy Firearms Training LLC, in Union Bridge, also said he has been inundated with calls and text messages from people wanting to take his wear and carry permit class.
“I’m getting calls all week,” said Kreitzer, who is a United States Concealed Carry Association certified instructor. “I’m holding classes at venues big enough for 20 to 25 people a week.”
During a late July class Kreitzer held inside the social hall at the New Market District Volunteer Fire Department in Frederick County, he delved into the basics of handguns and how to obtain a wear and carry permit in Maryland. He also brought up the importance of the Second Amendment.
“I’m tired of our Second Amendment rights being taken away,” Kreitzer told the class. “We can no longer allow that.”
The Second Amendment states that “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Kreitzer also spent time instructing students about the importance of concealing their gun with the right holster.
“When you wear it, conceal it,” he advised. “You’re going to be a threat to that individual, so conceal it. Wear the holster on your belt. You may need bigger pants and longer shirts. It’s all about the holster and how you dress.”
According to the Maryland State Police, the number of wear and carry permits issued in Carroll County is up from the same time last year. As of the end of July, 1,956 Carroll County residents has been issued wear and carry handgun permits by the Maryland State Police, according to Elena Russo of the MSP’s office of media communications.
In Maryland, an individual must be at least 18 years old and meet certain criteria in order to receive a permit to wear and carry a handgun, according to the Maryland State Police. Applicants between 18 and 21 years old can only be issued a permit if it is required for employment. Anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor who served more than a year in prison or who served more than two years in prison for any offense cannot obtain a permit. Alcoholics or anyone with “a propensity for violence or instability” that makes them “a danger to the person or others” are also prohibited from obtaining a permit.
Once granted, a permit is valid for two years. At the end of two years, the license may be renewed with the Maryland State Police by paying a $50 fee and obtaining an additional eight hours of training.
Farley admitted that it does make him “nervous” that so many people are rushing to obtain a wear and carry permit, but he supports the Supreme Court’s decision and Hogan’s move to change Maryland’s regulations, he said.
“An armed society is a polite society,” he said. “Offenders don’t expect victims to be armed. I think offenders will think twice, ‘Is he going to shoot me, if I shoot him?’”
Farley’s wear and carry permit class costs $300 and covers all of the Maryland requirements for obtaining a permit, including the basics of handgun laws, gun anatomy, cleaning, safe storage and handling, marksmanship and the use of deadly force.
The 16-hour training class is divided into two, eight-hour days. The first day is classroom instruction, and the second day is for live gun-firing instruction.
To pass the course a student must achieve at least a 70% score in a 25-round live-fire qualification exercise. After passing, the individual must pay between $50 and $75 to be fingerprinted by the state and then pay an additional $75 for the Maryland State Police-issued permit.
Before taking a wear and carry class, Farley highly recommends that students take a four-hour training course to obtain a Handgun Qualification License, allowing them to purchase a firearm in Maryland. Then the student can learn to use their own gun in the wear and carry course, he said.
Kreitzer charges $325 for two eight-hour days of instruction, including the fundamentals of a firearm, gun safety, home security, self-defense, the wear and carry law and range time. He offered a warning to his students: “Be smart about what type of gun you carry, because people that [don’t know the law] are going to call the police.”
Michael and Amanda Smith of Walkersville attended Kreitzer’s class in late July in order to obtain wear and carry permits.
“I want to find out about the law,” Amanda Smith said. “I don’t have much experience, and I’m just getting into it and learning.”
Michael Smith pointed to the Second Amendment as his reason for wanting to obtain a permit.
“I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment,” he said. “I’ve also been afraid if the next governor comes in, he could change it back.”
The Smiths also said personal protection was a driving force behind their decision.
“It’s one more option you have,” Michael Smith said.
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