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Guns and the Guv

Governor

Why are gun owners less than thrilled about a Republican governor who came to office making friendly gestures to gun owners, and who has even caught flak from Democrats and gun-control groups for his stance on firearms?

Ask John H. Josselyn, an advocate of gun owners' rights, and he'll tell you that Maryland is way too stingy when it comes to issuing concealed handgun carry permits. In a state of 5.6 million people, the Maryland State Police issued a total of only 4,190 concealed carry permits in 2005, including renewals.

Just showing up late to an interview with investigators who conduct background checks could be cause for the state police Licensing Division to deny you a permit, Josselyn says. Investigators can also look into your credit history, your educational background, your medical records.

"You have to prove somehow that your life is worth defending," John H. Josselyn, the legislative vice president for the Associated Gun Clubs of Baltimore, says. "It's all discretionary."

Josselyn believes the Maryland State Police, which issues the permits, could lighten up a little in clearing law-abiding citizens for carry permits--and they might, if only Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. would lean on them a little more to do it. That's why Josselyn, and some other gun owners, has not made up his mind about whether Ehrlich has been a friend to their cause.

"The jury's still out," Josselyn says. "And in this case, the jury is the voters."

State Police officials, meanwhile, say they are only trying to balance a gun owner's interest in carrying a weapon for self-defense against concerns for the public's safety. The process is rigorous because the stakes are high when it comes to allowing someone to walk around with a loaded weapon on them, state police spokesman Greg Shipley says.

"They are out among the public. That is, a we believe a higher level of responsibility requires a higher level of scrutiny," Shipley said.

Shipley said there is discretion involved to decide if someone's "instability" would be cause to deny them a carry permit. Maybe a single visit to a shrink would not disqualify an applicant. But maybe it would--depending on what the psychiatrist had to say.

The State Police may deny a permit if, while contacting references or associates, they discover that the applicant is a hothead.

"It is a serious issue we're dealing with here," Shipley said. If they error, they want to error on the side of caution."

Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell, a Republican the General Assembly's minority whip, says gun owners should be happy that Ehrlich has not been like his predecessors in enacting major gun-control initiatives.

"I think this governor has done a very good job," O'Donnell says. "For years, we said, 'Just enforce the laws we have.' We've had four years of that. The beating has quit. And it feels pretty good.

"And, Lord knows, what someone like Doug Duncan or Martin O'Malley would cram down our throats if they get ahold of that office. Just look at their public statements."

Both O'Malley, who is mayor of Baltimore, and Duncan, the Montgomery County executive, are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, and both have made a point of their differences with Ehrlich on guns. Duncan and O'Malley, for example, both back a ban on assault weapons, which Ehrlich has opposed.

To gun-owners, such issues mean a lot because they are notoriously focused on their single issue that to some is a life and death question, Josselyn said.

"Do you want to go home at night to your family? Walking in, as opposed to being carried in? So do I," Josselyn said.
Josselyn said his resolve to fight for gun rights deepened while working against the 1988 referendum on banning "Saturday Night Special" handguns. A petite woman who looked to be in her 70s, came to the polls and, speaking with a foreign accent, wanted to be clear on what she was voting for, Josselyn recalled.

"She looked at me and said, 'I'll never let the government take my guns again,'" Josselyn said. Curious, he followed her out after she cast her ballot to learn more.

"I said, I have to know. Where are you from? I can't place your accent," Josselyn said. "She looked at me with these cool gray eyes and said, 'Czechoslovakia.' It put a chilll in my spine, which I still feel today as I tell it."

Fredrick Kunkle

By Phyllis Jordan  |  May 30, 2006; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  Governor  
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Comments

if the nuts on both sides are upset, it sounds to me like he must be right in the middle where he needs to be. Good for him.

Posted by: MoCo voter | May 30, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

He's played the right-wing for fools, and neglected them every step of the way. He's raised taxes, done nothing on guns, failed on the marriage amendment, administered the largest spending increases in the history of the state, and Republicans are just supposed to vote for him because he's the only Republican running, and he's not as bad as O'Malley or Duncan? Sounds like a great campaign slogan... "Bob Ehrlich, not as terrible as the other guys..."

I feel sorry for Republican voters in Maryland, you got a real goose egg in Bob Ehrlich.

Posted by: Kenneth | May 30, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Sure, Ehrlich hasn't done anything to repeal Maryland's restrictive gun laws, but I certainly don't blame him. We are dealing with a General Assembly that's absolutely ignorant about guns. Ehrlich has done what he could -- prevented any new restrictions on our rights. We need to re-elect him and elect some Republicans to the Assembly. Then we may see some sensible gun laws enacted. Gun owners certainly won't be well-served if Duncan or O'Malley is elected.

Posted by: MK | May 30, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Whoa Kenneth comes swinging from left field with a bunch of inaccuracies.

Let's start off with Ehrlich's campaign promise: not to raise income taxes or sales tax. Despite attempts by Speaker Busch and the liberal leadership of the Maryland General Assembly, Ehrlich has held the line.

As far as the property tax is concerned he did have to increase it because he couldn't get a non-taxing revenue source (slots) through the MGA--why? Because Mike Busch and pals demanded income tax and sales tax increases in exchange for slots. However, as soon as we were out of the budget deficit the Governor immediately began seeking reductions to the property tax with a plan to fully repeal the increases--of course this has met stiff opposition from the left. He's already reduced it two cents--three more to go.

Now, on the other hand, candidate O'Malley whom toyed with a gubernatorial run in 20002 said that his plan to fix the budget deficit was raising the income tax, sales tax, and cigarette tax.

In regards to guns--can we only imagine what this state would be like with MOM or DD as Governor? I'd be surprised if guns are still allowed. We'd turn into a de facto DC that bans guns yet turns out some of the highest murder rates in the nation.

Gun owners aren't stupid and they recognize that to preserve their Constitutional rights that Governor Ehrlich needs to be re-elected.

Posted by: Bryan | May 30, 2006 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm just amazed that someone at the Post was able to write this article without once using the disproved "Wild West" analogy that usually gets trotted out about expanding concealed-carry rights for law-abiding citizens.

Posted by: Rufus | May 30, 2006 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Just showing up late to an interview with investigators who conduct background checks could be cause for the state police Licensing Division to deny you a permit, Josselyn says.

This statement by Kunkle is untrue.

What I said was "The trooper doing the interview as part of the investigation even records whether or not the applicant was on time for the interview and how the applicant was dressed.

At no time did I indicate or even infer that arriving late for an interview was cause for denying a permit.

Posted by: John H. Josselyn | May 30, 2006 10:54 PM | Report abuse

My beef with the Metro section article, and the Maryland Moment writeup, is that neither explains the "good cause" that the MSP found to exist to decide to actually issue JJ a permit, and so he is portrayed as "complaining about nothing."

The MSP was portrayed as "just checking for hotheads" and screeing out "instability," and it was not explained that the MSP acts as arbiter for deciding who "needs" a permit. This is an inaccurate impression that needs correcting.

Posted by: KSingh | May 31, 2006 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: John H. Josselyn | May 30, 2006 10:54 PM

What I said was "The trooper doing the interview as part of the investigation even records whether or not the applicant was on time for the interview and how the applicant was dressed.

"What!?", the Trooper said, "No Brooks Brothers suit and Talbot tie? Denied denied denied!", he cried.

I come from the Wild West and we have a very liberal "concealed carry" law - we also have a lot of very courteous people.

And the local District Attorney and Juries and finally Judges tend to be very hard on criminals convicted of carrying a gun during the comission of a crime - including required psychiatric counseling and clearing AFTER the lad is released...uh, uh, if ever!

Posted by: Bob Anderson | May 31, 2006 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"He's played the right-wing for fools, and neglected them every step of the way. He's raised taxes, done nothing on guns, failed on the marriage amendment, administered the largest spending increases in the history of the state, and Republicans are just supposed to vote for him because he's the only Republican running, and he's not as bad as O'Malley or Duncan? Sounds like a great campaign slogan... "Bob Ehrlich, not as terrible as the other guys..."

I feel sorry for Republican voters in Maryland, you got a real goose egg in Bob Ehrlich."

I don't know what country you hail from, but in the American political system having to tolerate the "lesser of two evils" is the rule, not the exception.

Posted by: Brandon | June 2, 2006 1:36 AM | Report abuse

The police can not protected me and my family and the State of Maryland won't allow me to protect myself. 47 states allow thier citizens to carry a concealed weapon and once again Maryland is not in tune with the with the rest of the County. I and many of my friends are disappointed in the Governor.

Posted by: Norman | June 3, 2006 8:00 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to deny the facts out there that show that States that have passed "Shall Issue" statutes and "Castle Doctine" legislation have seen decreases in violent crime. The numbers never lie. Courts have upheld that law enforcement agencies are not responsible for protecting any individual citizen, rather only the public as a whole...and the State Police here have decided that unless you already been murdered, raped, or assaulted some arbitrary number of times that you cannot defend yourself either. I can see how that makes criminals all bright-eyed and bushytailed. Voters need to wake up get enough people in the GA that are educated about this issue. I cannot understand how these politicians can champion these gun control measures and still sleep soundly at night knowing that they are personally costing many Marylanders their lives. Gun Facts (http://www.gunfacts.info/) should be a mandatory reading for our delegates.

I'm looking forward to see what Mr. Josselyn can get from the MSP in regards to explaining the process and requirements for permit issuance.

Posted by: Paul Seabury | August 19, 2006 11:33 AM | Report abuse

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