November 6, 2023

Carroll County Times Op-Ed

The 2024 Legislative Session is set to begin in early January, and without a doubt, it is vitally important that we address the rampant, out-of-control crime that’s plaguing our state. It’s no accident or coincidence. Over the past three years, the gerrymandered Democratic supermajority in Annapolis has passed several bills that water down sentences for violent juvenile offenders, prevent law enforcement from doing their job effectively, and even limit where Maryland citizens with concealed carry permits can legally defend themselves. They’ve done all this while refusing to truly crack down on criminals who repeatedly and violently break the law.

During the 2023 Legislative Session, while criminal activity involving firearms was exploding and crime was rising, Democratic leadership chose not to target repeat, violent offenders, but instead championed a bill (SB 1) to strip Marylanders of their right to self-defense. SB 1 dramatically limits the ability of law-abiding citizens to utilize their wear and carry permits in most public places. This bill was a reactionary response to the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision which struck down Maryland’s old, unconstitutional “may issue” carry permit law that required Marylanders to prove why they needed a permit.

SB 1 passed despite opposition from Republicans, and even some Democrats, and Governor Moore soon after signed the bill into law. Fortunately, pro-Constitutional rights organizations immediately filed legal challenges to SB1. The courts have granted a preliminary injunction, meaning the most over-reaching parts of the bill will not be enforced until the courts make a final ruling. Maryland citizens can still carry their firearm – with appropriate permit -on private property, to public events, and in businesses that serve alcohol. (It is already illegal for anyone under the influence of alcohol to carry or use firearms). The courts will make a final ruling on these issues in the coming months.

At a time when violent crime continues rise and juvenile criminal activity is becoming a crisis, the unified message from me and my fellow Republicans in the General Assembly is this – we must address and correct the short-sighted laws that have hamstrung our law enforcement and prosecutors. This same, urgent request has been repeatedly made by elected county prosecutors from both parties. We also need to update and modernize our criminal statutes to ensure that repeat violent offenders receive serious jail time. Instead of continuing to besiege law-abiding citizens who just want to protect their families, let’s go after the bad guys for a change.

Public safety has to be the highest priority of any government, and right now, for so many living in high crime areas, it doesn’t feel that way. I remain committed to partnering with anyone willing to work on solutions to protect our communities. Of course, please feel free to reach out to me anytime with questions or concerns.

Senator Justin Ready
The writer is a State Senator representing District 5 (Carroll & Frederick Counties)

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