Advertisement

Gun owners, gun-store employees scrambling to understand Maryland's new gun law

May 26, 2013|By KAUSTUV BASU | kaustuv.basu@herald-mail.com
  • Eric Exline holds an AR-15 (ArmaLite Rifle-15) that will be regulated after October 1st in Maryland. The AR-15 typically has a sporter barrel. Guns that have a sporter barrel will no longer be sold by dealers in Maryland where as the h-bar is not regulated. There will be also a new 10 round magazine restriction and if a gun has more than two military characteristic it's banned. Fingerprinting will also be added to some guns sales.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

Maryland’s new gun law is set to take effect in October, and gun owners and gun-store employees are scrambling to figure out what the 62-page bill will mean to them.

Tim Hafer, a manager at the Downsville Gun Shop and owner of Hafer’s Gunsmithing, said the bill is confusing.

The bill is written for “lawyers and judges,” he said.

“A regular person will not be able to decipher it ... there are questions about everything ... what they will be able to buy and what they won’t,” Hafer said. “I tell them what I know ... My customers want to obey the law and do the right thing.”

The Firearm Safety Act of 2013, sometimes referred to as Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun-control bill, is expected to take effect Oct. 1. It bans the sale of some types of assault weapons, and will require those buying handguns to be fingerprinted and licensed, with some exceptions.

The National Rifle Association has said it likely will challenge the constitutionality of the law in court, and Sue Payne, a Montgomery County resident, is leading a drive to collect signatures to challenge the bill through the petition process.

Many “people have not read the bill. The ones that have, they have more questions,” said Ray Givens, the legislative liaison for the Western Maryland Sportsmen’s Coalition, which has about 21,000 members.

“More than anything else, they want to buy a gun” such as the ones that will be banned once the law takes effect, Givens said.

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division is working with state agencies to organize training seminars in different areas of the state beginning in September to “provide guidance” about the bill, according to its website.

The sale of 45 specific assault weapons and their copies that are defined in the state’s Public Safety Article will be banned by the new bill, Elena Russo, a Maryland State Police spokeswoman, said in an email.

Examples of banned firearms, according to the pro-gun group Maryland Shall Issue, are the AR-15 with a standard barrel, the AK-47 in all forms and the M1A.

Once the bill takes effect, gun owners won’t be able to purchase in Maryland any magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds, but they can keep magazines with greater capacity that they already possess.

“The law does not restrict the possession of the magazine,” Russo said.

“The bill reduces the allowable detachable magazine capacity that may be manufactured, sold, purchased, received or transferred in the state from 20 to 10 rounds of ammunition for a firearm,” according to an analysis of the bill by the state’s Department of Legislative Services.

Hunting rifles and shotguns are not affected by the new law, the governor’s office said in an email.

“As far as hunters go ... bolt-action rifles, hunting guns, typical deer rifle, nothing is going to change with that,” said Michael Faith, marketing director for Hendershot’s Sporting Goods Inc., a Hagerstown store.

Handguns are a different story.

To “purchase, rent or receive” handguns after the law takes effect, adult residents, with some exceptions, will be required to have a Handgun Qualification License and submit their fingerprints, according to the DLS analysis.

The license to buy a handgun will cost $50 and will be valid for 10 years, according to the analysis. A renewal license will cost $20.

A background check will be part of the process, as it is now, according to the bill.

Those moving from out of state will have to register regulated firearms within 90 days of their move, according to the law.

According to the DLS analysis, if a regulated firearm is lost or stolen, the owner must report it within 72 hours of the discovery.

“A knowing and willful first time violation is a civil offense punishable by a fine not exceeding $500. A second or subsequent violation is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment not exceeding 90 days and/or a fine not exceeding $500,” according to the DLS analysis.

Mental-health provisions in the bill include prohibiting people with mental-health disorders, as defined by Maryland code, from possessing a regulated firearm, rifle or shotgun if they have been “involuntary committed.”

Those who have been voluntarily admitted to a mental-health institution for more than 30 days also may not possess firearms, according to the measure.

Gun-store owners and managers said the passage of the measure is leading to sales of more firearms, such as the AR-15, before the law goes into effect.

Todd Coblentz, a resident of Jefferson, Md., who was shopping at Hendershot’s recently, said he had purchased an AR-15.

“I wasn’t going to buy one,” Coblentz said, but he decided to do so before they are banned.

“It is for target shooting,” he said.

Questions and answers about the gun bill

The following are some of the questions people have about Maryland’s new gun law. The answers were provided by Maryland State Police.

Q: What kinds of rifles/assault weapons are banned under the law?
A: The new law bans the sale and transfer of the currently regulated 45 specific assault weapons and their copies defined in the Public Safety Article, Section 5-101. It continues the ban on the sale, transfer or possession of the 15 specific assault pistols or their copies defined in the Criminal Law Article, Section 4-301.

Q: If I want to buy a hunting rifle or a shotgun beginning Oct. 1, will I be subject to the fingerprinting and licensing requirements?
A: No

Q: The law bans the sale, transfer or possession of a “Copycat Weapon.” What is a copycat weapon?
A: Criminal Law Article, Section 4-301 specifically defines a copycat weapon as a semiautomatic, center-fire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has any two of the following — a folding stock, grenade launcher, flare launcher or flash suppressor.
Copycat weapons also include a semiautomatic center-fire rifle that has a fixed magazine capacity of more than 10 rounds or has an overall length of less than 29 inches, a semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds, a semiautomatic shotgun that has a folding stock, or a shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

Q: Am I violating the law if I have an assault weapon purchased before Oct. 1?
A: Any assault weapon lawfully owned or purchased prior to Oct. 1, 2013, is not in violation of the law.

Q: What does the new law say about magazines?
A: The law restricts the manufacture, sale, or transfer of a magazine that has a capacity of more than 10 rounds. The law does not restrict the possession of the magazine. (There are many exceptions to this requirement, including active and retired law enforcement officers, and law enforcement agencies, etc.)

Q: Who may obtain a Handgun Qualification License, the license that will be required to buy a handgun once the new law takes effect?
A: A Handgun Qualification License may only be issued to a resident of the State of Maryland.

Q: How long is a license valid?
A: The license expires every 10 years. Renewal is required only if the resident intends to purchase another handgun.

Q: What is the licensing fee?
A: The applicant shall submit an application fee of $50 with the application for initial issue and $20 for a renewal license. An applicant for a renewal license is not required to take an additional firearms safety class or submit to a second fingerprint background check.

Q: How is the licensing fee different from the registration fee?
A: A person who moves into the state with the intent of becoming a resident is required to register all regulated firearms with the Maryland State Police within 90 days. The total registration fee is not to exceed $15.
Current Maryland residents who lawfully own a regulated firearm prior to Oct. 1, 2013, are not required to register the firearms with the Maryland State Police.

Q: Where can I get training for a handgun qualification license?
A: That is being researched.

Q: I have a prior Probation Before Judgment (PBJ) on my record and I possess firearms. What should I do?
A: Seek legal advice.

Q: Where can I get fingerprinted?
A: Check with a local Maryland State Police barrack.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|