State police say Clerk of Courts Frank Conaway Sr.'s permit to carry a concealed handgun expired in March, raising the possibility that he could face criminal charges after Monday's altercation with a blogger.

According to city police, Conaway "brandished" a firearm during an altercation with blogger Adam Meister outside his Northwest Baltimore home. Conaway said he had a permit for the weapon, but state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said records show it expired in March.

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A major sticking point: Even if Conaway's permit lapsed, he would be allowed to possess the gun on his own property, Russo said. But it is not clear whether Conaway left his property. Conaway, 78, said that he had approached the 35-year-old Meister at his front gate after hearing a knock at his front door, and Meister says Conaway chased him a short distance down the sidewalk. The incident that was witnessed by plainclothes Baltimore Police officers who were already in the area on other business.

Conaway, who asserted Monday that his permit was up to date and initially declined comment Tuesday, said he never left his property. As for his lapsed permit, he said: "I was never notified. I think there's an obligation on the part of the state police to notify" permit owners.

A spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department said that officers are consulting with prosecutors on whether charges should be filed against the two men.

Concealed carry permits are difficult to obtain in Maryland - applicants must demonstrate a "good and substantial need" and go through background checks. Permits are good for three years and must be renewed.

Carrying a handgun without a permit is a misdemeanor that carries a minimum penalty of 30 days in jail and a maximum of three years. Conaway, who ran for mayor in the September primary, has been clerk of courts since 1998.

Conaway has said he didn't pull a gun on Meister and had no need to, asserting that he could have "handled" Meister on his own. Meister, for his part, also says that Conaway displayed no handgun, but police saw it holstered on him when they approached the court clerk.

Meanwhile, some of the city's black leaders were rallying around Conaway. Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the National Action Network, sent an email to Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III and State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein, "express[ing] concern for the life and safety of my friend."

Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, joined in on the email, saying Meister's behavior "appears to be harassment."

"Mr. Conaway was on his property minding his business. Does he slow up and holler at others as he passes or did he decide just harass the Conaway family," Hill-Aston said. "Someone should advise to pick another route."

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