by Brian Cain
Greg Tracey, Paul Donhauser, and I attended the Baltimore County Council meeting on Tuesday to address Bill 42-16 which would have made it illegal for anyone to possess firearms or knives on Baltimore Co. parks or property and subject such weapons to confiscation. The bill would also not allow retriever dog training on county property or parks. We thought the bill was poorly written and too broad and would hurt those stakeholders that have contributed so much in way of licenses etc.
The council agreed that the bill was hastily written and amended it on the spot to allow a licensed hunter to transport cased weapons at boat ramps, etc. during hunting seasons. They are also going to amend the bill to outlaw only weapon type knives and not pen knives and fillet knives. As was pointed out by the council, it has ALWAYS been illegal to have guns on county park property even though a blind eye was turned to allow us to hunt, now it will be totally LEGAL to have our guns on property with boat ramps. They are also going to address the hunting dog issue. We are waiting to read all of the amendments before signing off on them. Councilman Wade Koch was definitely on our side as was another councilman that I don’t know.
Barry Williams, the Director of Baltimore County Parks and Recreation followed us out of the room to speak with us and was very amenable to our proposed changes. I spoke with him on the Baltimore County land offshore waterfowl hunting and, again, explained that it’s never been a safety issue and the only place we had any problem was at Cox’s Point. I know the land is tied up in riparian licensing for another 2 years (I think) and proposed that we, MDWFA, submit a map to him of the properties we would like turned back on and he agreed that he would entertain such an exercise. So, it looks much more positive that we may get Baltimore Co property turned back on.
So, all in all it was a double win for MDWFA yesterday at the County Council meeting. The vote on the Bill is July 5th and I will be out of state but Greg and Paul will monitor the amendments.