ANNAPOLIS - Gun rights supporters from across the state are expected to pour into Annapolis Monday for a hearing to discuss Maryland’s new gun control regulations, which are set to go into effect Oct. 1.
The 1 p.m. hearing by the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review (ALER) will include testimony by Maryland State Police outlining how they will enforce the new regulations, which includes banning many types of weapons, limiting the size of a magazine and requiring a “handgun qualification license." This means in addition to a background checks, those purchasing a handgun must complete a firearm safety and proficiency course and be fingerprinted.
Opponents of the law plan to hold a rally prior to the hearing and bring plenty of supporters to the hearing room. Many gun supporters have railed against how the state police have dealt with the huge backlog – at one point more than 38,000 – of gun permit applications requiring approval.
Many gun buyers have waited more than four months to receive their weapons, which were purchased with the hopes of buying a soon-to-be banned weapon and/or avoiding the new regulations. Under state law, gun sellers only have to hold a weapon for seven days to wait for a background check. However, most businesses have held on to weapons for fear of turning a gun over to someone who is not legally allowed to own one.
To help with the backlog, state police have utilized other state agencies to assist with inputting information into their system and are working with other law enforcement agencies to conduct the actual background checks as sworn officers are the only ones legally allowed to do such checks.
Among the concerns raised by opponents of the new laws include having non-law enforcement employees assisting with the backlog and requiring those who purchased guns prior to Oct. 1 but have not taken ownership of them before then to get a handgun qualification license.
The Maryland Attorney General’s office wrote in a letter last month to Del. Michael Smigel that while people who purchased weapons to be banned before Oct. 1 can still take possession of them after that date, they would have to comply to the new state regulations.
In addition, in a letter of advice to Allegany County Del. Kevin Kelly, the Attorney General’s Office wrote it was not illegal for state police to use workers from other agencies to assist with reducing the backlog of applications.
What the fallout will be from Monday’s hearing remains to be seen. The ALER committee could stay the regulations, allow the law to take effect but not enforce it or let the law move forward as it currently exists.
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