LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — “It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before in the history of the Maryland State Police.”
That’s how MSP spokesman Greg Shipley describes the statewide firearm-buying spree sparked by new gun control laws that will take effect Oct. 1.
The measure, signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in May, bans 45 types of assault weapons, limits gun magazines to 10 bullets and bans gun ownership by people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.
One of the most contentious parts of the bill is a licensing requirement for handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police.
Police are working feverishly to process the flood of gun purchase applications that have come in so far this year. Troopers said as of Friday, slightly more than half of the more than 100,000 purchase applications received had been processed.
Residents who have submitted handgun purchase applications before new requirements go into effect Oct. 1 will not have to obtain a handgun qualification license, state police said Tuesday. The agency said that troopers will not enforce the new requirements, which also include background checks and fingerprinting, on applications submitted by Sept. 30.
Shipley told WNEW’s Kevin Patrick that he predicts about 1,000 applications are coming in per day as the deadline gets closer.
The agency began 24/7 operations in December to process the applications, but the backlog continued to grow.
Frank Loane Sr., owner of Pasadena Pawn and Gun, says sales of guns have tripled at his store. AR-15 rifles are specially popular lately.
“I might sell one or two a month, and last month I probably sold 100,” he said.
Earlier this month, state police said 20 law enforcement officers from other agencies began helping with background investigations. State law requires that the investigations be conducted by police officers.
Troopers also said that beginning last week, 24 data entry employees from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services have been inputting information from applications. State police said several security measures were being taken to limit the access of DPSCS employees to the State Police database.
O’Malley, a Democrat, proposed the gun control bill in January in response to the December shooting in Newtown, Conn., where a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
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