‘It’s Like Prohibition’ As Maryland Gun Buyers Hoard Firearms Ahead Of Next Week’s Ban

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With only a week to go before new gun laws that limit “assault weapons” and require fingerprints and licenses for handguns take effect, Maryland residents are buying firearms at an unprecedented rate.

The Baltimore Sun reported Tuesday that the last-minute rush to beat the gun grab has resulted in residents snapping up weapons at a rate of more than 1,000 per day, outpacing the same sales figures for the same period a year ago by a 7-to-1 margin.

“It’s like Prohibition. People want to get their guns before the law takes effect,” one gun owner told the newspaper.

“Everything that’s been banned, we’ve been buying,” said Daniel Brantley, another gun owner who’s been involved in protesting the new laws. Brantley and his wife have bought half a dozen guns over the past six weeks, including the maligned AR-15 rifle, as well as a number of handguns.

The last-minute push intensifies what has already been an extremely active retail market for firearms in Maryland ever since the new laws were passed. From The Sun:

Demand for guns overwhelmed the state’s background check system months ago, leading half of the state’s 314 dealers to release weapons to buyers without waiting for them to be checked out.

Two weeks ago, Gov. Martin O’Malley pledged all the resources necessary to help plow through that backlog of background checks before the new law takes effect Oct. 1. But the onslaught of purchase applications has virtually wiped out the progress made by an all-hands-on-deck effort launched earlier this month.

Starting Oct. 1, prospective handgun buyers in Maryland will be required to submit their fingerprints for a State-managed database, complete a mandatory safety course and obtain a license. The handgun registry makes Maryland the fifth U.S. State that tracks lawful gun owners. In addition, residents won’t be able to legally purchase ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The sale of AR-15s, along with more than 40 other so-called “assault” weapons, will also be outlawed.

The Maryland Legislature passed the “Firearm Safety Act of 2013” in May amid a series of heavy debates in both legislative chambers that stretched late into the night. Governor Martin O’Malley, who had pledged gun control as one of his key objectives for this year’s legislative session, signed the law on May 16.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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