Maryland residents have been rushing to gun stores and buying firearms at a rate of 1,000 per day, trying to beat the implementation of a new gun control law.
The unprecedented gun-buying habits of Marylanders has spawned more than 102,000 weapons purchase applications already this year. The 2013 gun purchases in the state are already more than twice the number of firearms sold in 2011.
A stringent new gun control law will take effect Oct. 1, prohibiting “assault-style rifles” and requiring fingerprinting and a license to purchase a handgun. The licensing process takes a month to complete. There’s also a $50 fee.
According to The Baltimore Sun, the Maryland State Police has been inundated with seven times more background check requests this month than they did during the same time period last year.
“It’s like Prohibition. People want to get their guns before the law takes effect,” Howard County gun store owner Rick Kain said.
State Sen. Nancy Jacobs, a Republican, said she’s bought two more handguns this year.
“It’s going to make it so much more difficult for law-abiding citizens to get firearms without jumping through a million hoops,” Jacobs said. Everyone’s trying to get their guns.”
The rapid spike in guns sales reportedly has complicated plans to implement the new law, but just temporarily. The criminal background check backlog likely will weeks to process and The Baltimore Sun reports it has been overwhelmed for months. The background check delay meant that the 314 licensed dealers in the state were permitted to give guns to buyers who had not been processed within the mandated seven-day check period.
After waiting seven days for a background check to return, gun dealers are free to turn over firearms to the customer.
Governor Martin O’Malley’s promise to use all the resources necessary to complete the background checks before the gun control bill becomes law on October 1 fell far short of the mark. Data entry staffers were reportedly temporarily reassigned to help law enforcement officers complete the required criminal background checks. According to Maryland State Police representative Greg Shipley, the backlog when the data entry employees arrived was at 38,000 – and it now stands at almost 50,000.
A rally protesting the new law was held in Annapolis earlier this week. Protest attendee Daniel Brantley told local media that he and his wife had purchased six new guns in the past month or so. All the firearms the child care provider has bought are on the Maryland gun ban list.
“Now the window of opportunity is closing,” he was quoted as saying.
The AR-15 is among the 45 different types of weapons on the Maryland gun ban list. The extremely popular and accurate semi-automatic rifle is sold out at nearly all the store licensed to sell it. Gun dealers are permitted to sell existing inventory subject to the ban after October 1, as long as a valid order is placed before the deadline.
Gun and pawn store owner Frank Loane Sr. referred to the Maryland gun purchases of the past several months as a “mad rush.” Loane also noted that folks are nervous that they will not be able to buy the firearm they want before the ban goes into effect. The gun store owner said he sold 250 pistols in just the past few weeks.
The gun store owner’s comparison to Prohibition could not have been more accurate. When something becomes illegal, only lawbreakers will have the banned items.
“If people were asked to give fingerprints to vote, imagine the outrage,” John “Travis” Kijowski told The Sun. “We’re not a bunch of nuts. We’re regular people — people who just want to be left alone.”