Pro-gun lawmakers want permits from state police

Three House lawmakers fired off a letter to the state police late Monday requesting that the agency immediately start issuing more gun permits in the wake of the recent federal court decision that loosened the rules about who can walk around with weapons.

Del. Michael A. McDermott, a lower Shore Republican, said that "the people of Maryland" have been "crying" for changes in the guns laws for years. "It is a great day for Maryland," he said at a Tuesday news conference. "Now we have a liberty that should not have been denied in the first place."

On Monday, a federal judge declared unconstitutional the state's rule that gun applicants must prove they have a "good and substantial reason" to be armed. The following disqualifiers remain: felony charges, mental illness, drug or alcohol abuse, and a track record of violence.

Maryland's Attorney General plans to appeal the decision and will ask that it be stayed in the meantime.

Del. Michael Smigiel, an Eastern Shore Republican, wants the decision to be implemented now. "The right to self defense comes from God," he said. "The second amendment applies outside the home."

Smigiel is one of the few state lawmakers with a permit to carry a gun (as a lawyer, he said he needs one because he carries around large quantities of cash.) Del. Don Dwyer, an Anne Arundel Republican who also signed the letter, said the he will not apply for a permit "until is neighbor can."

Smigiel, Dwyer and McDermott are also asking the state police to start recognizing out-of-state gun carry permits because, they say, the agency used Maryland's "good and substantial reason" test as a rational for denying them. "Clearly, the recent court decision has determined that these applied standards have been inappropriate and unconstitutional," according to the letter.

The state police did not immediately reply to questions about the letter. This blog will be updated with their response.

State police spokesman Greg Shipley said he is not yet able to respond to the letters.

Shipley said that in 2011 the state police received 5,216 applications for carry permits. Of those 251 were denied -- 179 because the police did not see a "good and substantial reason" for issuing the permit.