Analysis: Baltimore Convicted Gun Offender Registration Ordinance

| by The Volokh Conspiracy

State v. Phillips (Md. Cir. Ct. Apr. 8 holds that a Baltimore ordinance (§ 19–60) that requires convicted gun offenders to register with the police is unenforceable and unconstitutional.

The ordinance authorized the police department to create specific regulations indicating what information offenders must provide, but stated that “A copy of all rules and regulations adopted under this subtitle must be filed with the

Department of Legislative Reference before they take effect.” The police department did not so file the regulations. The court held that:

  1. Given the text of the ordinance, the regulations couldn’t go into effect until they were filed.
  2. Given that the regulations weren’t filed, it was unconstitutional to impose the requirements on registrants, even though the requirements were apparently told to the registrants when they showed up to the police station to register.
  3. The ordinance’s delegation to the police of the power to require that registrants provide “any other information required by the rules and regulations adopted by the Police Commissioner” gave the police department unconstitutionally standardless discretion.

Note that this ordinance involved the registration of convicted gun offenders, not of guns.

Thanks to Thomas Degrange for the pointer.