The gun laws in the state of Maryland are so tyrannical that the attorneys general of twenty-one states recently led a legal effort to overturn them. As if that weren’t bad enough, it now appears that police in the state are exploiting these laws to target out-of-state gun owners for illegal searches.
The Washington Times recently reported the story of John Fillipedes, a Florida gun owner who was driving through the state in 2013 when he was pulled over for speeding. Instead of simply writing a ticket, officers of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police placed Fillipedes and his family in the back of the police cruiser while they searched his car from top to bottom.
“My wife’s hysterical, shaking and crying,” Mr. Filippidis told the Washington Times. “I don’t have a criminal record. I own a business. I’m a family man, and I tried to explain that to [the officer]. But he had a bad attitude, didn’t want to hear my story.”
And why were the police searching his car?
Because they were looking for his Florida-licensed handgun, which was locked away safely hundreds of miles from the scene. Maryland law does not recognize out-of-state gun permits.
To this day, Filippidis doesn’t know how the police knew about his gun or what gave them the legal right to search his car. Although the MDPA later issued an apology, an internal police review later found that the stop and search were lawful.
Another Florida gun owner also told the Times that Maryland police targeted him for an illegal search. John IV Tonneson says he was pulled over and searched for unknown reasons, by the same officer who searched harassed Filippides.
“There’s scanners in Maryland that scan every tag, and Florida is one of their target vehicles. They’ll find whatever reason they can to pull you over,” he said.
A local criminal defense lawyer told the Times that these kinds of searches happen all the time.
“You think that Maryland would honor legitimate people with guns rather than charging people who are legitimately carrying but doing it incorrectly,” said the lawyer, Paul Kramer.
“I would think that the police would want to take the time to go after those people who don’t have a legitimate right to have a gun rather than locking up people who have a valid license. An otherwise law-abiding citizen can get arrested here. It’s just a waste of officer time and resources. The police should let those people go.”