ObamaCare isn’t the only deadline that arrives tomorrow. Maryland residents face new restrictions on the purchase — but not ownership — of firearms starting tomorrow, thanks to Governor Martin O’Malley’s push on gun control earlier this year. With just hours to go, Maryland’s gun stores report record sales:
Maryland residents have been buying guns in record numbers before a law takes effect Tuesday, with provisions aimed at helping keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, strengthening safety training and banning 45 types of assault weapons.
Opponents decry what they call an ineffective law that will only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise Second Amendment rights. They say the state also failed to prepare properly for implementation after Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, pushed the complicated measure through the General Assembly to build his credentials for a potential Democratic primary race. …
The Maryland law attempts to address firearms access by the mentally ill by preventing anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility from owning a handgun in the state, although this provision would not have applied to the Navy Yard gunman.
The law will also ban 45 types of assault weapons, although people who own them now will be able to keep them. That provision has contributed to record sales. The Maryland State Police received 106,772 gun-purchase applications so far this year as of Sept. 20, the most recent date for which data was available Friday. That compares with 70,099 applications processed last year, which had been the previous annual record.
“There’s never been this kind of increase,” said state police spokesman Greg Shipley, who added that people have been applying for gun purchases at the rate of about 1,000 a day over the past two weeks.
They may not need to rush. A court has a hearing scheduled tomorrow to determine whether to issue an injunction against the law:
On Thursday, opponents of the restrictions sued in federal court in Baltimore, seeking to block the legislation from taking effect. The court scheduled a hearing for Tuesday on their motion for an order that would temporarily block implementation while the court considers whether to permanently bar Maryland from enforcing the law.
The deadline isn’t the only parallel with ObamaCare, either. The law requires a new licensing system, but it’s not ready to go, and no one can say when it will be ready to be put in effect. That has law enforcement in the strange position of declining to enforce the law:
However, some say the state isn’t ready for the changes, due to a massive backlog.
Background checks that are usually processed in a week are now taking three months or more, and the number of gun applications have reached about 1,000 per day heading into Oct. 1.
In addition, the new license system isn’t in place and gun dealers say the state isn’t ready to roll out regulations.
Maryland State Police say they won’t enforce the law for people who have pending applications that were submitted before the Oct. 1 deadline.
“It’s still illegal but they’re just not enforcing it. There’s no way we can play by these rules,” says Andy Raymond, co-owner of Engage Armament in Rockville, Md.
How far away is the system from readiness? The state police don’t even have the forms for purchasers to complete, let alone the infrastructure to manage it. That might have the effect of stopping gun sales, which would violate the 2nd Amendment — and probably will force the court to issue an injunction tomorrow.