Residents in Maryland have been buying guns in record numbers before a new law comes in on Tuesday aimed at keeping firearms away from criminals and the mentally ill. And opponents are saying the legislation will make it harder for citizens to exercise the Second Amendment, which guarantees an individual’s right to own guns.
The new law will require handgun buyers to be fingerprinted, making Maryland the sixth state to do so after Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. It will also stop someone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility owning a firearm.
The legislation also states that 45 types of assault weapons will be banned, although people who already own them will be able to keep them, which has led to a huge increase in sales before Tuesday’s deadline.
Maryland State Police have received 106,772 gun purchase applications so far this year, compared with 70,099 applications last year – the previous annual record.
“There’s never been this kind of increase,” said state police spokesman Greg Shipley. He said people have been applying for guns at the rate of about 1,000 a day over the past two weeks.
Frank Loane, owner of Pasadena Pawn and Gun in Pasadena, said it has been his best year for firearm sales in the seven years he has run the store.
“Everybody’s trying to get in to either get an assault rifle or a handgun that they’ve always wanted, and they know the deadline is coming,” he said.
State Senator Nancy Jacobs, a Republican who opposed the measure, questioned the effectiveness of the law, and said criminals will find other ways to buy guns.
“They are going to continue to buy them on the street,” she said. “They are going to continue to break into peoples’ homes and steal them. They will get them.”