Debate over conceal-and-carry permits continues in Maryland

On October  1  last year, Maryland officially became one of the toughest states for gun ownership, but even before that it wasn't exactly a breeze.

Carrying a gun in public requires an even higher burden of proof thanks to a clause that leaves more than a little interpretation as to who gets to tote a gun around and for what reason.

SEE RELATED: Conceal-and-carry permits difficult to obtain in Maryland

"Maryland is certainly one of the hardest states to get a permit, but some of us feel like that is a good thing,” said Mike Pretl sat on the handgun permit review board for nine years.

Appointed by then-Gov. Parris Glendening, Pretl was part of the citizen review process applicants would appeal to if they were denied a wear and carry permit.

"Most of the people who do qualify are people who have to carry money on their person or people who have to deal with law enforcement issues and therefore feel a risk of retaliation," Pretl said.

Former state's and assistant state's attorneys are in that group as well, but all people have to show that “good and substantial reason” illustrate how they have a more pressing need for carrying a firearm beyond that of a regular citizen.

The In Focus team filed an open records request to the Maryland State Police to obtain the reasons that didn't make the cut.

In the rush of wear and carry permit applications last year, more than 2,000 people applied; of those, just more than 200 were denied and 187 of those were for not having that good enough reason.

Twenty armed security guards were denied a carry permit along with about 20 former law enforcement officers.

SEE RELATED: Some ex-officers struggle to get gun permits in Maryland

About 40 applications were shot down because the job they thought they needed a gun for didn't meet the criteria either according to state police.

Also tossed out were six applications from medical professionals, applicants who thought the need to carry and protect a prescription pad was reason enough.

That reason Mike Pretl says, was something he never came across in his years on the review board.

"Are people aware that if they see a doctor walking down the street, are they aware they have a prescription pad I don't know, but I don't know that we ever saw a single case in the nine years I was there of one of those situations,” he said.

But what hasn't changed over the years is the reasons people think they need to carry a gun for personal protection.

Those reasons vary from being a victim of a crime, knowing someone that has, protecting family or just a general fear of living or being in Baltimore or other areas.

One citizen wanted protection for “taking a stroll around the Inner Harbor,” another simply stated his reason for wearing and carrying a firearm was because, “I live in Prince George's County !”

SEE RELATED: Fear of Baltimore City leads to some to want a gun

"Most people are in good faith but that is not a good and substantial reason and I think state police are right in saying if we gave it to them, then we have to give it to everybody. Everybody that wants to come to the Inner Harbor raise your hand, then you can get a gun permit, well that doesn't make a whole lot of sense."

But many others feel who is Pretl or anyone else for that matter to tell them so.

"The burden is on you to prove and it shouldn't be that way. I've never been in trouble or anything like that so why shouldn’t I, to protect myself,” said Richard Brulinksi, a gun advocate living in Maryland

Brulinski doesn't think the state police or a citizen review board should have any say on what he feels is appropriate to protect himself.

He says he would apply if he didn't already know how tough a conceal and carry permit is to obtain.

It is a right Brulinski believes, not a burden, but a right Maryland is now clear to weigh against what it feels is the public good.

The “good and substantial” clause in Maryland’s permitting law was challenged back in 2012.

The case went all the way to the appellate court which eventually ruled in the state's favor.

The gentleman who brought the suit then tried to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court but last year, it denied the case.

For now, providing what state police feel is a good and substantial reason is the law of this land and the only way to legally wear and carry a gun.

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