The wife of Anne Arundel County Del. Nic Kipke has joined a gun rights organization suing Gov. Wes Moore, challenging Maryland’s new laws that will restrict where licensed gun owners can carry firearms.
The case filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore has as plaintiffs the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association Inc. — the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association — and Susannah Warner Kipke, who owns Mrs. Kipke’s Secure Gun Storage in Millersville and has gun permits in Maryland and Florida.
The Maryland General Assembly passed the new laws in the 2023 session, and Moore signed them Tuesday, after a U.S. Supreme Court decision last summer rendered the concealed-carry policies in New York, Maryland and five other states unconstitutional.
The crux of the new lawsuit lies with Second Amendment advocates’ objection to Senate Bill 1, which restricts the locations where individuals with licenses obtained from the Maryland State Police can carry their guns in public, and House Bill 824, which limits who is eligible for a concealed-carry permit.
Mrs. Kipke and the Maryland State Rifle and Pistol Association, are suing Moore, a Democrat, and Maryland State Police Superintendent Roland Butler, who was appointed to his role by the governor earlier this year.
In the complaint, Kipke and the state rifle and pistol association assert that both laws violate their constitutional rights and swap “one blatantly unconstitutional licensing regime with another blatantly unconstitutional licensing regime.”
Moore spokesman Carter Elliott IV told The Baltimore Sun during a phone call Thursday that the administration is “saving lives” while Kipke and the NRA are “politically posturing.”
Attempts to reach Mrs. Kipke, as well as her legal team, for comment have yet to be returned. Her husband, the Republican delegate, said he cannot comment on the lawsuit.
“Plaintiffs include an ordinary, law-abiding and responsible citizen of Maryland and an advocacy organization representing the interests of ordinary, law-abiding and responsible citizens in Maryland, who wish to exercise their fundamental, individual right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home and would do so but for the reasonable fear of prosecution as a result of defendants’ enforcement of the unconstitutional laws and regulations challenged in this lawsuit,” the complaint says.
Under Senate Bill 1, gun owners with licenses to carry will be prohibited from bringing their firearms into public and private elementary, middle or high schools, health care facilities, buildings owned or leased by the state or local government, public or private university buildings, active polling places, electrical plants or electrical storage facilities, gas plants, nuclear power facilities, stadiums, museums, racetracks, video lottery facilities, venues that serve alcohol or cannabis for on-site consumption, and private property unless the owner has given express permission to do so.
Exemptions to these restrictions will be allowed for certain people, including law enforcement and correctional officers, security guards and members of the armed forces who are on duty or traveling to and from duty. The lawsuit noted that Mrs. Kipke is not eligible for any of these exemptions.
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House Bill 824 will prohibit people from receiving a license to carry a firearm if they are on supervised probation for committing a crime punishable by at least one year in jail, have been convicted of driving while impaired or under the influence, have violated a protective order, are living with mental illness and have a history of violent behavior, or been involuntary committed to a mental health facility for over 30 consecutive days.
Both laws will go into effect Oct. 1.
Before it was found unconstitutional, Maryland’s previous policy required applicants to demonstrate they hadn’t displayed a predisposition for violent behavior, and that they had a legal, established reason for their desire to carry a firearm.
While Republicans urged Moore to veto the new legislation, Moore signed it into law.
“The NRA thinks more guns on the street is the solution when that is actually the problem. Everyone understands these common sense bills will protect Marylanders and protect the rights of legal gunowners,” Elliott said. “Every Marylander has the right to feel safe in their own communities, and the governor is committed to doing everything in his power to make Maryland a safer home for everyone.”
Moore’s campaign organization, with a fundraising email to supporters Wednesday night, sought to capitalize off the lawsuit. With the subject line, “BREAKING: The NRA is suing us,” the email asks for donations “to show that Maryland isn’t afraid of the NRA” and to “send a message that the NRA can’t miss: If you come for Maryland, expect a fight.” Signed by “Wes,” the email directs supporters to a donation website for the governor’s political committee.
Baltimore Sun reporter Sam Janesch contributed to this article.