The former head of the Maryland State Police Licensing Division said in a state senate hearing that he once believed that more concealed carry holders would lead to “blood on the streets” but that he changed his mind after he was “schooled” by gun rights groups.
“I haven’t always felt the way I do right now,” Capt. Jack McCauley, also a retired 24-year veteran of the Maryland State Police, said of relaxed concealed carry laws at last week’s hearing.
State lawmakers are considering a bill which would include self-defense as a “substantial” reason to grant a concealed carry permit.
McCauley was appointed to head Maryland’s licensing division in March 2012.
The state had just lost a lawsuit against its “good and substantial” concealed carry licensing standard. The change meant that the licensing division would likely receive — and approve — more concealed carry permit applications.
“I worried about people carrying guns,” said McCauley. “I really did. I thought there would be blood in the street.”
He also worried about an influx of applications from gun rights enthusiasts.
“These crazy people. These Second Amendment activists, they’re all going to want these,” McCauley said he thought at the time. “They’re trophies. They’re all going to want this permit. It’s going to be scary. Dangerous people are going to be getting guns. Just any Joe Citizen’s going to get a gun.”
But McCauley said he began researching concealed carry and began meeting with gun rights organizations to gain their perspective.
He said he met with two groups, Maryland Shall Issue and AGC Gun Club.
“But you know what, when I met them they schooled me,” McCauley said. “They not only schooled, they embarrassed me. They humbled me. I was wrong. I was completely wrong.”
Based on his research, McCauley said “I found out some staggering information about handgun permits and what was going on.”
He cited a 10-year study of 2.5 million concealed carry permit holders which found that only 168 had their licenses revoked for a gun offense. Most offenses involved the illegal carrying of a firearm in a no-gun zone.
“My fears weren’t justified,” McCauley said.
In his testimony, McCauley also criticized the “good and substantial” concealed carry issuing standard, which he defined as “a reasonable precaution against an apprehended danger.”
“Can anyone even define that?” McCauley asked the senate panel.
The vague standard caused confusion among McCauley and the licensing staff.
“We would argue,” he said. “They would be arguing amongst theirselves over applications. They’re literally in the break room trying to decide whether someone met the definition of ‘good and substantial.'”
“It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“The arbitrary administration of this process, it’s horrible. It’s an absolute nightmare, and it needs to have something done about it.”
McCauley has been in the news over gun issues before. Last year he signed an affidavit claiming that in March 2013 an aide to then-Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, ordered him not to answer a question in a state House Judiciary Committee about whether a ban on firearms and detachable magazines would have an effect on crime. McCauley said that he would have testified that the change would have no impact on crime rates. But the aide, Shanetta Paskel, ordered him not to answer the question, causing uproar during the hearing. McCauley stated in his affidavit that Pakel told him after the hearing that her command not to answer the question was “not about policy; it is just votes.”