ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Gun control laws will take effect in Maryland on Sunday.
The laws were approved as part of state lawmakers’ response to last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended a requirement to demonstrate a particular need for a license to carry a concealed gun in public, but they are facing a federal court challenge brought by gun rights groups. Meanwhile, the state’s statute of limitations for when civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse can be filed against institutions is set to end, clearing the way for victims to seek justice in court decades later.
Here is a look at some of the new laws taking effect in Maryland on Oct. 1:
CONCEALED CARRY-RESTRICTED AREAS
While lawmakers this year removed the "good and substantial reason" language from Maryland law that the Supreme Court found unconstitutional, Maryland is tightening gun laws to prevent someone from carrying a concealed handgun in certain areas. For example, the law will generally prohibit a person from wearing, carrying or transporting a gun in an "area for children or vulnerable adults," like a school or health care facility.
It also prohibits a person from carrying a firearm in a government or public infrastructure area, or a "special purpose area," which is defined as a place licensed to sell alcohol, cannabis, a stadium, museum, racetrack or casino. Gun rights advocates are challenging the law in federal court, but it’s still set to go into effect Oct. 1.
A separate law changes and expands requirements and procedures that relate to the issuance and renewal of a permit to wear, carry or transport a handgun. It is facing a federal court challenge in a combined case with the other concealed carry law.
The statute raises the age for qualifying for a handgun permit from 18 to 21, which has come under court challenge in other parts of the country. It also prohibits a permit for someone who is on supervised probation for a crime punishable by up to one year or more in prison, a person convicted of driving while impaired or under the influence, and people who violate a protective order.
People with a mental illness who have a history of violent behavior also would be prohibited from carrying a gun, as well as people who have been involuntarily admitted for more than 30 days to a mental health facility.
Maryland is requiring greater storage requirements for firearms. Under the law, a person can’t store a loaded firearm in a place where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised minor has access to a gun. It’s known as Jaelynn’s Law and is named after 16-year-old Jaelynn Willey, who was killed in 2018 at Great Mills High School by a 17-year-old student who used his father’s gun.
CHILD SEX ABUSE-LAWSUITS
Maryland will end the state’s statute of limitations for when civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse can be filed against institutions. Victims are already poised to file lawsuits when the law takes effect. Officials with the Archdiocese of Baltimore have been weighing filing for bankruptcy protection. Lawmakers included a provision in the law that would put lawsuits on hold until the Supreme Court of Maryland can decide on the law’s constitutionality, if it’s challenged on legal grounds.
Maryland’s attorney general will have independent authority to bring criminal charges against police officers after investigating deaths when officers are involved. The law is an expansion on a package of police reforms approved two years ago in response to concerns about police accountability after the 2020 murder of George Floyd in Minnesota.
HATE CRIMES-CIVIL REMEDIES
A person who is the victim of an act that would constitute a violation of Maryland’s hate crime laws will be able to bring a civil action against the person or persons who committed the act.
Hospitals will be required to include testing for fentanyl as part of drug screening, if such a screening is conducted to assist in diagnosing a person’s condition.
Maryland will repeal an exemption from prosecution for specified sexual crimes if, at the time of the alleged rape or sexual offense, the person was the victim’s legal spouse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.