PIKESVILLE, Md. - With new tighter gun regulations set to take effect Oct. 1, Maryland State Police have doubled their effort with hopes of clearing the large backlog of gun applications they have yet to process.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Marc Black said the department had received 85,141 applications and cleared 46,942 permits as of Aug. 31. Black added that this compared to 38,882 for all of 2010. To put those figures into perspective, Black said, state police are receiving 2,432 applications a week, compared to 744 three years ago.
Black said the Maryland State Police licensing bureau now has 73 full-time staffers working on applications and 60 others that are rotating in on an as-needed basis. Last year at this time, just 38 full-time workers were working on this assignment, Black added.
State police are currently looking at applications sent to them in the week of May 12, Black said. Complicating matters is that under state law, gun dealers can release a weapon to a purchaser after a 7-day waiting period, regardless of whether the background check has been completed.
Black said many dealers have withheld the firearms, while others have released them. He added that, although not illegal to do so, Maryland State Police are requesting that dealers wait to ensure guns are not getting into the wrong hands.
Alan Brody, a spokesman for Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, said that anyone that legally purchases a gun soon to be banned in the state before Oct. 1 will still be able to receive, even if the background check does not get finalized until after the deadline.
However, Brody added, Gansler, in a letter of advice sent to Del. Mike Smigiel in August, said that all handgun purchases that aren't cleared by the time the new laws go into effect will require 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.