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New Year's law

Starting Wednesday, new handguns sold in Md. must have locks

Starting Wednesday, new handguns sold in Md. must have locks

December 30, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Beginning Wednesday, all new handguns sold in Maryland must be equipped with built-in safety locks.

Gun dealers worry that the new law will reduce choices and increase costs for gun buyers, but it may be months before its true effect is known.

All guns manufactured before the end of the year, including those still on dealer shelves, are exempt from the new requirement, said Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley.

Maryland's Handgun Roster Board has approved six types of built-in gun locks, Shipley said.

But many major manufacturers, including Glock and Ruger, have not complied yet with the new law, said Sanford Abrams, vice president of the Maryland Licensed Firearms Dealers Association.

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Manufacturers do not plan to put the devices on every model of handgun. If a customer wants a gun that doesn't come with a built-in lock, Maryland gun dealers will have to install after-market devices at a cost of $50 to $100.

Such devices are not yet available for some guns, including the old-fashioned, single-action guns used by cowboy target-shooting enthusiasts, Abrams said.

Guns used by law enforcement are exempt from the law.

Jack Murray, owner of Murray's Sports Center in Williamsport, said the new law could hurt his business if manufacturers don't comply.

Maryland residents won't be able to get around the law by shopping in Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

Under federal law, a Maryland resident cannot bring in a gun purchased out of state. The gun has to be transferred through a Maryland dealer, who must comply with the law.

Shipley said he is not aware of any dealers stockpiling guns that don't have to meet the new requirements.

In the past, the state has seen a surge in gun sales just before new gun laws take effect.

"It would not be unusual with the additional legislation about to take effect," he said.

Republican Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said he would review the state's gun laws to see if they are working, but Abrams doesn't think the Democrat-controlled legislature will change the gun-lock law.

"I don't have a hope in the world this is going to change," he said.

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