Maryland Chambers
Maryland Chambers

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Today, Senate Republican public safety proposals passed the Senate with bipartisan support. While there is still much work to be done, these measures will make a significant impact on curbing the violent crime crisis that continues to rage throughout the state.

Republican proposals passed today include:

  • Making the theft of a handgun a felony,
  • Closing the “drug dealer loophole” where drug dealers who use a firearm during the sale of drugs are specifically exempted from harsher penalties,
  • Allowing for interlocutory appeals so that prosecutors can keep firearms charges in criminal cases, and
  • Expanding the definition of absconding to include leaving a court-ordered stay in an addiction treatment facility as part of their parole and probation without authorization.

“We’ve heard the voices of everyday Marylanders and have responded to their calls for commonsense and effective solutions to combat the violent crime crisis that is plaguing every part of our state,” said Senate Minority Leader Bryan Simonaire. “These measures attack this crisis head-on and will help keep violent offenders off our streets. I am grateful to the Republican members of the Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee who have worked with their colleagues across the aisle to secure bipartisan support and finally move these initiatives forward.”

Senate Republicans are also imploring their fellow Senators to hold the line and ensure that these important advances remain in these bills if they are stripped out by the House.

Making the Theft of Handgun A Felony

This measure has been a Republican initiative for years, and makes the theft of a handgun a felony, not a misdemeanor.

“Making the theft of a handgun a felony specifically goes after criminals instead of Annapolis’ usual practice of targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” said Senate Minority Whip Justin Ready

who has sponsored legislation to move this measure forward for a number of years. “We’ve heard countless stories of gun-related crimes are being committed with stolen handguns. This measure increases the penalty to match the seriousness of the offense.”

Provisions to make the theft of a handgun a felony were amended into SB 861 – Public Safety – Firearm Crimes – Enforcement Center, Offenses, and Procedures.

Closing the “Drug Dealer Loophole”

For years, drug dealers who use a firearm while selling drugs were specifically exempt from harsher penalties. Under this legislation, that loophole would be eliminated and selling drugs while in possession of a gun would be defined as a violent offense, carrying more substantial penalties.

“Over the years, we have worked to pass this measure as part of numerous anti-crime packages,” said Senator Michael Hough (Frederick) who has sponsored legislation to this end for a number of years. “I’m glad to see this ridiculous protection for drug dealers finally become a thing of the past. This is a strong first step to reestablishing real consequences for those who threaten our public safety and prey on some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”

Provisions to close the “drug dealer loophole” were amended into SB 861 – Public Safety – Firearm Crimes – Enforcement Center, Offenses, and Procedures.

Allowing Interlocutory Appeals

This measure expands those instances when the state can appeal a trial court’s decision to exclude at trial evidence that a defendant possessed a firearm.  Without this provision, what would have been, for example, a conviction for armed robbery would be reduced to a conviction for simple robbery, if the court excludes evidence of a weapon, resulting in a greatly reduced sentence.

This measure allows the state to target violent gun offenders and pursue the true sentence for their crimes.

“Expanding interlocutory appeals allows prosecutors to ensure that the punishment fits the crime,” said Senator Bob Cassilly (Harford). “This makes it easier for prosecutors to go after the bad guys with guns and keep them off our streets.”

Provisions to expand interlocutory appeals were amended into SB 861 – Public Safety – Firearm Crimes – Enforcement Center, Offenses, and Procedures.

Expanding the Definition of “Absconding”

The Senate advanced measures that would expand the definition of absconding to include leaving a court-ordered stay in an addiction treatment facility as part of their parole and probation without authorization. Currently, there are no consequences for those who abscond in these circumstances. Under the new provision, absconding would be a violation of the terms of that individual’s parole and probation.

This provision was amended into SB 585 – Public Safety – Warrants and Absconding that received final passage in the Senate on March 14th.

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2 Comments

  1. Sounds pretty good. (Of course, since the Rs came up with it). Any takers that the Ds will reject it like they always do? Too many of their voters, who are doing most of those crimes, would be jailed longer that’s why…

  2. This bill has 8 Democrat sponsors and 4 Republican sponsors. The Baynet should REPORT not be a political mouthpiece.

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