ANNAPOLIS — Gun purchase applications in Maryland are up ahead of the start of a gun control measure that gives Maryland some of the nation’s tightest gun laws.
The Washington Times reported state police received 85,141 gun-purchase applications this year through Aug. 31. That’s compared with 70,099 applications in all of 2012 and 46,339 applications in 2011. Gun dealers say they have been overwhelmed ahead of the law’s Oct. 1 effective date.
“Because of the gun ban, business has been booming,” said Al Koch, store manager at Bart’s Sports World, a Glen Burnie-based gun shop. “It’s been busy like crazy with people making last-minute decisions.”
Maryland State Police, meanwhile, have increased staffing to cope. In August 2012, 38 employees were assigned to conduct background checks, but this year 73 employees are doing that work, according to Sgt. Marc Black. He said 60 temporary staffers are also rotating hours.
“We’re looking at unprecedented numbers,” Black said. “We saw this coming.”
So far, officials have processed 46,942 of this year’s applications.
The new gun law Maryland lawmakers passed earlier this year bans 45 types of assault weapons, but people who own them now will be able to keep them. The law also requires people to submit fingerprints to the state police to get a license to buy a handgun.
In addition, Maryland State Police will be able to suspend the licenses of gun dealers who fail to comply with new record-keeping obligations. The provision will allow the state police to supplement enforcement efforts of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The measure also requires mandatory reporting to law enforcement of lost or stolen firearms.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, proposed the bill in January in response to the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.