Gun control is a hot-button issue for voters in Maryland and they want to know where each of the candidates for governor stand on the issue. A significant increase in mass shootings plus an uptick in gun violence since the pandemic has made the right to bear arms and who should have access to them a contentious topic.
President Biden signed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act into law in late June, calling it "a historic achievement" at the time. It toughens requirements for young people to buy guns, denies firearms to domestic abusers, and helps local authorities temporarily take weapons from people deemed to be dangerous.
Maryland already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. However, Governor Larry Hogan's recent decision to support the Supreme Court's wear and carry gun permit ruling has caused a stir on both sides of the aisle.
Delegate Dan Cox is a staunch supporter of the right to bear arms. His website highlights a few examples of him defending that right, including a 2020 clip of him at a Maryland General Assembly hearing explaining his stance against House Bill 910, which would prohibit Marylanders from manufacturing, possessing, selling, and purchasing certain firearms like ghost guns. Cox said that the founders of America built the guns that were used to win the Revolutionary War, and that serial numbers on guns don't stop criminals from committing crimes.
When the Supreme Court struck down a New York law requiring a person to show "proper cause" before being able to obtain a concealed carry license, Cox posted a message on Facebook praising former President Trump for his conservative Supreme Court picks. "SCOTUS rules that denying carry permits unless ‘proper cause’ shown violates the Second Amendment," he wrote. "I believe Maryland must immediately comply and shall-issue permits and I call on the governor to issue such an order to the Maryland State Police complying with this ruling. I stand for constitutional carry and as governor I will ensure our constitutional rights are enforced."
His website also features abortions and eliminating COVID restrictions as core issues.
While Robin Ficker's website is catered to cutting Maryland's sales tax, the longtime defense attorney has said he supports the Second Amendment. He's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and attended the U.S. Military Academy. During a recent interview with the Maryland State Bar Association, Ficker responded to a question about wear and carry permits by saying he looks at bearing arms like the people in Ukraine do. "I think that there's a right to have a gun, and you have to use it legally," he said. Ficker added that he wouldn't make any changes to Maryland's current gun laws.
Kelly Schulz shares many values as current Governor Larry Hogan. When it comes to gun control, Schulz plans to enforce the laws Maryland currently has on the books. She recently praised Governor Hogan for following the Supreme Court's decision to suspend the "good and substantial reason" standard for residents applying for wear and carry permits in the state.
"Repeat violent offenders who commit crimes with illegal guns are the problem, not law-abiding citizens," Schulz said in a press release. "The governor directing the Maryland State Police to process these permits is the right call, and I stand with him in support."
The main issues on Schulz's campaign website focus on keeping communities safe by supporting police, improving schools and cutting taxes.
After switching parties, Joe Werner's stance on gun control aligns more with the right. He believes in the Second Amendment. And Werner has publicly said that he would make it easier for law-abiding citizens to buy and carry weapons if he's elected governor. He told the Maryland State Bar Association that his former party doesn't believe in the right to carry anymore and that the state needs more mental health facilities. Werner said that he would put more resources into making sure Maryland can prove a person shouldn't carry a gun, opposed to people having to explain why they should be allowed to.
Werner's campaign website focuses on cutting down crime and allowing school choice.
Jon Baron used his campaign website to explicitly outline how, if elected governor, he would work with the Maryland General Assembly to protect residents from gun violence. In addition to encouraging further federal action, Baron said he would push for a safe gun storage law that requires gun owners to stone and lock all firearms when not in use. He would also launch a $100 million prize competition to make guns safer in the state by rewarding "smart gun" technology.
"Maryland currently has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but because guns frequently cross state lines, we need similar laws at the federal level to help protect Marylanders from gun violence," Baron's website reads.
The campaign website also lists education, healthcare, and abortion rights as key issues.
Peter Franchot considers himself to be one of Maryland's most progressive legislators during his decade-long career in public service. On June 3, National Gun Violence Awareness Day, Franchot took to Twitter to reaffirm his commitment to fighting for increased gun safety. "For decades, I’ve been an ardent supporter of common sense gun safety legislation," he tweeted. "As a State Delegate, I fought to make Maryland the first state in the nation to ban the sale and manufacture of cheap handguns. And following the 2021 mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, I called on Congress to pass legislation holding manufacturers responsible."
As governor, Franchot said that residents can count on him to stand up to the NRA and the gun lobby in Maryland. "The suggestion that more guns keep our communities safe is nonsense – we don’t need to look far to find the tragic examples that tell us otherwise," he tweeted.
His campaign website lists pledges on more than a dozen other issues including creating jobs, transit and education.
Former Attorney General Doug Gansler has spoken extensively about the need for tougher enforcement of gun laws. Gansler's campaign website states that if elected governor, he would prioritize solving gun crimes and go after gun traffickers in order to remove illegal firearms and violent offenders off the streets.
"Convicted felons who commit a crime of violence with a firearm need to be removed from our streets," Gansler's website reads. "Violent crimes committed with a firearm should be removed to the United States Attorney’s Office. We must also go after gun traffickers who bring in guns from out of state and undermine our gun control laws. We will pursue illegal and ghost guns and those who flood our streets with them."
Gansler also issued a statement in response to Governor Hogan’s recent decision to drop the requirement that applicants present a "good and substantial" reason for a wear and carry permit:
"The number one job of government is to keep people safe, and Governor Hogan has failed at that job," Gansler said. "Governor Hogan dropped this requirement without suggesting any alternative, lesser standard that would ensure we are keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. There is no other candidate in the field who has received an ‘F’ from the NRA, personally put hundreds of gun-carrying violent criminals behind bars and spearheaded legislation to get guns out of the hands of criminals. If we want to keep Marylanders safe from gun violence, we must nominate a pro-business, pro-law enforcement, moderate Democrat who can win the general election in November."
His campaign website also addresses making Maryland accessible, green and safe.
Ralph Jaffe is a teacher, not a politician, according to his campaign website. The "Leader of the movement to stop corruption in government" doesn't clearly outline his stance on gun control on his site.
His commitments to voters include not increasing taxes, and efforts to abolish the Public Service Commission, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Maryland Stadium Authority, the Maryland Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program and stopping nursing home rip-offs.
Ashwani Jain believes in the right to bear arms, but also wants regulations put in place that will ensure those who are armed do not disrupt public safety. The former Obama Administration official clearly states his stances on gun control issues on his campaign website. Jain wants to ban certain military-grade firearms and require people get a permit to own firearms. He believes the solution to gun violence involves reforming the criminal justice system by banning ghost guns; supporting red flag laws; and closing the loophole to ensure all gun owners (even those with rifles/shotguns) get a permit, according to his website.
In 2018, Jain hosted a student-run gun safety workshop after the Parkland shooting to support SB707 which would ban rapid-trigger devices in Maryland and keep guns away from domestic abusers. The bill later became law. As governor, Jain would like to reduce the risks of a non-law abiding resident obtaining a weapon, while ensuring "greater safety" around firearms.
Other key issues featured on his website include climate change, disability rights, education, and housing.
John King is passionate about gun control. On his campaign website, King said that he lost students to gun violence when he worked as a teacher and principal. His website said that he is committed to making Maryland a "safer, more thriving place for everyone." If elected governor, King said he will enforce Maryland's new ban on ghost guns and other existing gun laws, like the assault weapons ban and red flag law. He also wants to pass strong Child Access Prevention laws, like Jaelynn's Law, and stronger safe storage laws. King's website states that he wants police to focus on stopping the flow of illegal guns and investigating violent crimes. He's also an advocate for behavioral intervention programs for people with a history of gun offenses.
In April, King was named a Moms Demand Action 2022 Gun Sense Candidate. "Banning ghost guns was a great start in Maryland, and we'll do more to protect our communities when I'm governor," he tweeted at the time.
His website also touches on the issues of criminal justice reform, education, housing, transportation, cannabis legalization, and more.
Wes Moore is another Moms Demand Action 2022 Gun Sense candidate. He has shared his stance on gun control on numerous platforms. Moore recently told The Washington Post that he's "committed to strengthening Maryland gun laws." As governor, Moore said he would expand background checks, implement extreme risk protective order laws, and get ghost guns off Maryland streets.
The former Robin Hood Foundation CEO's campaign website states that Moore plans to "swiftly and aggressively" combat gun violence by building strong partnerships across state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. He also wants to invest in proven community-based violence intervention programs.
Moore's campaign website also includes his plans to address gender equality, opportunity for Black families, transportation, civil rights, and more.
Tom Perez wants to do something about Maryland having the 14th highest rate of gun homicides and gun assaults in the country. On Perez's campaign website, the civil rights attorney hones in on the prevalence of ghost guns in the state. Perez states that his administration will address ghost guns and gun violence by investing in data collection and analysis of ghost gun seizures to identify and prosecute ghost gun manufacturers. If elected governor, Perez also plans to develop an emergency preparedness plan for mass violence, including mass shootings, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Emergency Management.
Disability rights, jobs, affordable housing and climate change are also issues featured on Perez's campaign website.
During a recent Democratic Governor's Forum held by the Maryland State Bar Association, Jerome Segal said that he would change the age requirements to obtain a firearm. Segal said that if elected governor, he would push to prevent access to guns until residents are 21 years old, instead of the current age of 18. "There's an awful lot of craziness that happens in those years while the brain is still developing," he said.
Segal also told The Washington Post that he would only allow Marylanders to own hunting rifles and home-protection shotguns. If his plan gets shut down by the Supreme Court, the founder of the socialist Bread and Roses Party said he will "lead the nation in the fight to amend the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution."