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HAGERSTOWN — State legislators on Monday shot down an idea to seek handgun-permitting powers for the Washington County sheriff, saying it could open the door for more liberal counties to tighten their own gun-control measures.

“From a political strategy, they might say, ‘OK, go ahead, we’ll let you do that in Washington County ... but then we’re going to start banning handguns in Montgomery County,’ and that’s not a road that I want to go down,” said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.

The discussion came up during a meeting Monday morning between the Washington County Commissioners and the county’s delegation to the Maryland General Assembly. At the meeting, the commissioners asked the delegation to pursue three legislative items.

In addition to the handgun-permitting legislation, the commissioners asked the delegation to introduce legislation ending mandatory general fund subsidies to the county’s utility funds and requiring disclosures about stormwater management structures to property buyers.

The push for local issuance of handgun permits was suggested in Frederick County, Md., by Commissioner Blaine Young, who said the current permitting process, administered by Maryland State Police, made the permits too difficult to obtain. After hearing of Frederick County’s suggestion, the Washington County Commissioners agreed to follow suit.

Shank told the commissioners Monday that he strongly supports right-to-carry legislation and has vigorously defended second-amendment issues, but he thought an attempt to move power from the state to the county was not a good solution.

Shank said that when local jurisdictions like Montgomery and Prince George’s counties have sought gun-control measures such as banning gun shows, conservative legislators have been able to kill those bills by arguing the concept of pre-emption, saying it is the state, not counties, that have the authority to regulate handguns.

After using that argument for years, proposing to authorize handgun permitting on the county level would look inconsistent, Shank said.

Del.-elect Michael Hough, R-Frederick/Washington, said he heard from a second-amendment group with the same concern.

However, Hough and Shank said they agreed the current permitting system in Maryland was “broken.”



There are some wins: story here -- Maryland: Legislators shoot down handgun-permitting proposal
 
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