ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland Chiefs of Police Association spokesman opposed Carroll Sen. Larry E. Haines' bill guaranteeing citizens a constitutional rightto keep and bear arms because it does not include provisions for state regulation.
"No one in our organization has an objection to citizens having guns," Col. Leonard J. Supenski of the Baltimore County Police Department said on behalf of MCPA. "But we do ask for reasonable regulations and for state police power to regulate use, possessionand control under certain circumstances."
Supenski told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee yesterdaythat the association would consider changing its position if the bill was amended to reflect those concerns.
The Maryland State Policesubmitted written testimony opposing the bill.
The bill sponsoredby the Carroll Republican would amend the state constitution to allow citizens to arm themselves "for the defense of self, family, home, and state, and for hunting and recreational use." If approved by the General Assembly, the amendment would be placed on the November ballot as a referendum.
Hampstead resident C. D. "Hap" Baker, who registered his opinion on a slew of gun-related bills, complimented Hainesfor his "great job doing something to protect our rights." He showedthe committee a box of 8,000 petition signatures from Maryland residents who support the bill.
"These people are saying we think we should have the right to vote on this amendment," said Baker, legislative liaison for the Carroll County Sportsmen's Association and a gun safety instructor for the Department of Natural Resources.
Althoughthe Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms to maintain an effective militia, courts have ruled that it doesn't extend to individuals' rights. States can grant that right to individuals and regulate firearms through legislation.
Maryland is one of seven states that does not have a constitutionalprovision guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms.
Haines told the committee that the right "must not be infringed" and that his bill is intended "explicitly to protect lawful rights."
An attorney for the National Rifle Association supported the bill.
The statepolice say the amendment could be interpreted to nullify firearms laws regulating the sale of guns, issuance of handgun permits, carryingof concealed weapons and other regulations.
Haines contends the amendment would not override or conflict with current laws or prohibitpassage of restrictive laws.
The state police also say the bill would preclude statutes prohibiting minors, criminals and the mentallyill from possessing weapons.
Haines asserts that those "high-risk" groups would not be covered under the amendment. Courts have ruled that the right does not apply to those groups.