Gun Laws & Legislation

Maryland gun laws increasing gun ownership: even among criminals

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By Jorge Amselle

Starting in October anyone who wants to buy a gun in Maryland, the “free” state, will have to jump through a maze of new regulations, and that is just for the guns that aren’t being banned outright. Anything considered too dangerous for you, the average tax paying peon, to own will be banned. That means “assault” rifles and handguns will be verboten as well all magazines that can accommodate more than 10 rounds, unless owned before October 1 that is.

To purchase an acceptably safe handgun, Maryland serfs will have to get fingerprinted, take a safety class and be licensed. That is in addition to the already existing laws that ban private transfers unless handled by the state police or a licensed dealer, as well as the current safety training requirement and seven day waiting period. I would list all the other Maryland gun laws here but that would require a lot more paper.

The all too predictable effect of these laws has been that Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is now running neck and neck with President Obama for the title of world’s greatest gun salesman. Anyone and everyone who was even considering owning a firearm before is now rushing out to buy as many as possible before the deadline, especially of the types that will be banned. It is a veritable arms race that has left the state police flat footed.

All firearms purchases of handguns and “assault” guns must go through the state police for a background check and a state mandated seven day waiting period. Non-regulated guns, like the Joe Biden double barrel shotgun special just go through an instant FBI background check and no waiting period. The number of people buying the more “dangerous” guns has increased to the point that it is taking over 100 days to process each application and there is a backlog of over 30,000 applications (out of more than 70,000 submitted this year to date). Some Maryland residents are now (half) joking that it has actually become easier and faster to purchase a machine gun or suppressor in Maryland than a simple handgun.

Under state law, after a dealer has waited the required seven days he is allowed to release the gun to the purchaser, regardless if the background check has been completed or not. Federal law also says that if a dealer does not hear back from the FBI within three days he can release the gun to the purchaser. These laws are there in order to force the powers that be to complete the background checks in a timely manner and not use administrative delays and foot dragging as a de facto gun ban.

Many Maryland dealers tired of the expense and strain of holding onto sold inventory for months while dealing with constant calls from frustrated customers are following the law to the letter and releasing guns after the seven day period. Oops. It turns out that some 30 or more guns went to people who did not pass the background check and the state police now have to use even more limited resources trying to get those guns back. A typical Maryland lose-lose situation.

At least all of these laws will reduce crime right? If you believe that then better not go to Baltimore as you risk bursting your bubble, as well as risk getting mugged, assaulted or killed. To be fair violent crime rates in Maryland, which are about 500 for every 100,000 residents, are the lowest they have been since the 1970s but the decline started well before the gun control wave kicked in. Still 500 violent crimes per 100,000 residents is not something to brag about.

In Virginia gun sales have also been increasing (nearly 500,000 in total gun sales in 2012). But Virginians are rushing out to buy guns more due to the Obama sales tactics than any local threat. The state maintains very gun friendly laws that make it easy to but any gun with no waiting period and a simple instant background check. It is also very easy for anyone who passes a background check and takes a basic safety course to get a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

Like in Maryland and the rest of the country crime rates in Virginia have also declined. Interestingly however the violent crime rate in the Old Dominion is less than half that in Maryland, about 200 per 100,000 people. I think I will stay on my side of the Potomac.
Jorge Amselle is a certified firearms instructor and writer covering all aspects of the industry from military and law enforcement firearms and training to the shooting sports. His youtube channel