Maryland gun shops are reporting increased activity in the weeks leading up to October 1, when the state’s strict new firearm law will take effect. Such a surge was not unexpected, as gun retailers have been seeing brisk business since last December when the Newtown shooting revitalized the gun control debate.
Earlier this year President Barrack Obama announced a sweeping set of firearm-related proposals and longtime gun control proponent Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) advocated national efforts. In light of possible restrictions on their purchasing ability, gun owners around the nation stocked up in advance. Gun control laws did pass in states such as New York, Colorado, and Connecticut.
In a much-challenged move, Maryland joined this list when Governor Martin O’Malley signed a package of gun control bills into law in May. The new law bans over 40 “assault weapons” as well as prohibiting the sale of all magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds. In addition, handgun purchasers will have to undergo fingerprint licensing.
It was quickly challenged by groups such as the National Rifle Association and efforts were made to stop the law before it takes effect on October 1. With enactment only days away, gun owners are taking advantage of the time to make their purchases now, rather than later. According to The Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox, more than 1,000 firearms have been sold per day in the state over the last two weeks.
“It’s like Prohibition,” said Rick Kain, a gun owner from Howard County. “People want to get their guns before the law takes effect.”
The amount of sales and background checks needed to process them are creating a backlog for the Maryland State Police, who are rushing to keep up. The state hired a team of data entry personnel and transferred other law enforcement employees to the licensing department in order to cope. State Police spokespeople say the backlog is currently up to 49,745 applications.
OutdoorHub made a call to one retailer, which did not want to be identified, and found that sales have been high but steady throughout the year.
“We’ve been busy since last year and it hasn’t slowed down since then,” the employee said. “It hasn’t increased dramatically over the last few weeks either.”
However, items such as magazines and AR-15s are in high demand and even State Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-Annapolis) is stocking up. Jacobs told The Baltimore Sun that she recently purchased two new handguns, one with an extended magazine.
“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.”