Veto Request for House Bill 947 – Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024.

The Honorable Governor Wes Moore
Maryland State House
100 State Circle
Annapolis, MD 21401

Dear Governor Moore,

We urge you to veto House Bill 947 – Gun Industry Accountability Act of 2024.

HB 947 as passed allows our state and local governments to sue firearm sellers and manufacturers, based both in and outside of Maryland, when firearms are used to commit crimes. This bill holds firearm sellers and manufacturers liable when individuals use their products in an illegal manner.

Billed as public safety legislation, HB 947 does absolutely nothing to address the proliferation of illegal firearms in Maryland or target those who unlawfully possess guns and use them in the commission of crimes.

HB 947 does not enhance public safety, reduce gun violence or target violent offenders. Instead, HB 947 will continue the unsettling trend of expanding the powers and office of the Attorney General to the point of overreach, and also strangle Maryland’s firearm dealer industry by forcing them to operate in an impossible business environment that they will most likely decide to leave.

If HB 947 is signed into law, Marylanders will merely purchase firearms and ammunition from out-of-state sources. Dealers in neighboring states are just a relatively short drive away. Criminals will not be affected at all as criminals do not legally acquire firearms. The supply of firearms will not diminish; the location of the sources will simply change, and Maryland will lose tax revenue and jobs. That happened in 2013 when Maryland passed the Firearms Safety Act of 2013. A major Maryland firearms manufacturer, Beretta, moved out of Maryland to Tennessee.

HB 947 is ambiguous and creates an impossible business environment for industry members in Maryland. It creates vague standards that provide no notice and fails to provide enforcement guidelines, thus inviting abusive, arbitrary, and discriminatory enforcement proceedings in violation of the Maryland and federal constitutions.

Industry members simply have no possible way to anticipate what conduct will cross the line and subject them to ruinous litigation costs and potentially huge judgments. Because of the vagueness of this bill, there are no steps that the industry members can take to minimize the risk of liability.

Additionally, the standard for liability is potentially limitless, there is no way industry members will be able to obtain liability insurance to protect themselves. Smart dealers and other industry members will seek to minimize exposure by moving their operations out of Maryland.

If the purpose of the bill is to change behavior of dealers, then notice must be provided. Otherwise, the bill is just punitive and can only be viewed as designed to put industry members out of business with crippling litigation costs and damage awards, including punitive damages.

In addition to the damaging effect on industry members in Maryland, this bill vastly overreaches. It impermissibly directly regulates conduct wholly taking place outside of Maryland and also disproportionately burdens interstate commerce. It also exceeds the limits on the State’s long- arm statute under the Due Process Clause by allowing enforcement proceedings against out of state actors who do not engage in conduct directed at Maryland.

Finally, it does all these things in flagrant disregard to the Federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) which was enacted for the purpose of protecting the firearms industry from the very type of abusive suits authorized by this bill.

This bill will not survive judicial review, and we will waste precious taxpayer dollars defending it, and for these reasons, we respectfully request you veto HB 947.