Possession of Guns on Maryland Public School Grounds
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll probably notice school shootings have been in the news almost every day of 2018. In the wake of the most recent mass shooting at a Florida high school, many Americans are concerned about how to move forward and protect people on school grounds.
As with most things, however, the issue of what constitutes a “school shooting” has also become highly politicized. States generally have laws that prohibit guns on public school property. Sadly, there are plenty of otherwise law-abiding gun owners who inadvertently get arrested for carrying guns in prohibited places like schools. In Maryland, this can have grave consequences. If you are caught with a gun on a Maryland school campus, you need aggressive legal representation right away. Prosecutors are not going to take it easy on you, and you could face real prison time, even if the reason for the offense was as simple as forgetting to change bags or not emptying a backpack after a camping trip.
School Shootings in 2018
One early estimate stated that there have been 18 school shootings in 2018 already. Other reports say it’s closer to 5. Snopes clarified the numbers in a bit more detail, showing that indeed there have been 18 firearm-related incidents on school grounds in 2018. However, some were outside of school hours, one was a self-inflicted shooting, and several were accidental shootings. Nevertheless, the fears are the same. People do not want firearms around children, and Americans seem eager for change. Regardless of where you stand on the political issue, the fact remains that penalties for having guns on campus are not likely to go away anytime soon.
Maryland Penalties for Having a Gun on School Grounds
Under Section 4-102 of Maryland’s Criminal Code, it is unlawful to possess a deadly weapon on school grounds. This applies to “public schools.” The law does not distinguish between K-12 schools or colleges and universities, but the Maryland University System prohibits handguns on all campuses in the state.
Violations of Maryland’s weapons ban on public school grounds is generally a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to 3 years in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. The law prohibits all of the following:
- Any other “deadly weapons”
Enhanced Penalties for Handguns or Using a Firearm on Campus
If you are charged with possession of a handgun on a public school grounds in Maryland or you discharge a firearm on campus, you could face longer prison terms, in addition to any other charges for the resulting harms caused. In other words, you can be sentenced for the gun-related offense, as well as the underlying crime, such as murder, battery, attempted murder, and so forth.
There are Exceptions
Under Maryland law, the following people are not subject to prosecution for having weapons on school grounds:
(1) Law Enforcement on duty
(2) Off-duty law enforcement
(3) Retired law enforcement in good standing (provided the person is a parent, guardian or
authorized visitor. Further, retired law enforcement:
- Must display their credentials
- Must conceal the weapon
- Must be legally authorized to carry a concealed weapon
(4) Anyone hired by the school board specifically for the purpose of being an armed guard
(5) Those participating in “organized shooting activities.”
(6) Someone bringing in historical artifacts or replicas for demonstration purposes,
upon written permission of the principal.
Fighting a Maryland Weapons Charge
Given the highly sensitive and political climate we live in, if you or someone you know is charged with possession of a firearm on public school grounds, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney. Hunters and those with otherwise lawful concealed carry permits may accidentally leave a weapon in a backpack or even a coat pocket. While perhaps reckless, a simple and innocent mistake can quickly turn into a lengthy prison sentence and a lifelong criminal record. Contact the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A. to get answers today.