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Fear of Gun Control Drives Maryland Firearm Sales

'Every day has been absolutely crazy for the last [few] weeks.' —Cecil County gun shop owner

By Rashee Raj Kumar, CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

Fears of new gun control regulations proposed by President Barack Obama and Gov. Martin O’Malley have intensified sales at Maryland gun shops.

"Everybody is panicking," said Henry Calvert, president of Calvert Firearms in North East. "Every day has been absolutely crazy for the last [few] weeks."

While the boost in sales has bolstered gun dealers' profits, it has also led to a shortage in the supply of guns in the state, especially assault rifles, gun shop owners said. 

“It’s a bear market," Calvert said. "Everyone is purchasing everything that comes in."

Last week, Obama proposed a set of gun control regulations that included a universal background check for all gun sales and a ban on military-style assault weapons. Within days, O’Malley proposed a similar ban on assault weapons in Maryland and limits on the size of magazines.

But Maryland's spike in gun sales predates the proposals in Annapolis and Washington, according to FBI statistics and gun shop owners.

The FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System processed 36,220 background checks for gun purchases in Maryland in November and December 2012. That marks a 49 percent increase compared with the same period in 2011, when the agency processed 24,376 background checks. 

Gun shop owners said sales surged in December following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

In the four days following the Sandy Hook shooting on Dec. 14, Andrew Raymond of Engage Armament in Rockville said his store did 10 times more business than he anticipated; he expected to sell $25,000 worth of merchandise and ended up selling $260,000.

While business is strong now, Raymond said he is concerned about the future.

“What we specialize in as a business is assault rifles,” he said. 

Assault rifles account for 60 to 70 percent of Engage Armament’s business, with handguns making up the rest. A federal or state ban on assault rifles could force him out of business, he said.

Other gun owners say the talk of new gun control regulations in Washington has driven sales upward since October.

Michael Faith, the marketing director at Hendershot's Sporting Goods in Hagerstown, said the uptick started the day after the second presidential debate on Oct. 16, when Obama mentioned renewing the assault weapons ban.

“The sales are fear-driven right now,” said Faith.

“From a business standpoint, sales have been good," he continued. "I can sell every handgun and AR-15 I can get, but the problem is supply.”

Faith also has concerns about any new proposed gun control legislation.

“New York passed legislation that bans anything over seven rounds. If Maryland passes legislation like New York, that affects more than 95 percent of our pistol inventory,” he said. Hendershot's Sporting Goods hired eight new employees to handle increased demand after the second debate. Legislative changes could cost these employees their jobs, Faith said.

Current Maryland Gun Laws

Handguns

  • 21 years old to purchase
  • Sales regulated
  • No permit necessary to purchase
  • Permit required for concealed carry
  • No license required to own
  • Registration required through Maryland State Police
  • Safety training program required through Maryland State Police

Assault Weapons (30 guns and their copies are included in category)

  • 21 years old to purchase
  • Sales regulated
  • No permit necessary to purchase
  • No license required to own
  • Registration required through Maryland State Police
  • Safety training program required through Maryland State Police

Ammunition Magazines

  • Limited to 20-round capacity
  • Three groups are prohibited from purchasing: convicts with felony or certain misdemeanor records, the mentally ill and drug/alcohol abusers

Proposed Changes to Maryland Law

  • Complete ban on assault rifle sales
  • Magazine capacity reduced to 10-round maximum
  • Digital fingerprinting required for handgun ownership, to go in police records
  • Updated safety training for handgun ownership
  • Not-yet-detailed expanded definition of an assault rifle
  • Required background check for all handgun sales
  • Increased focus on mental health/school safety
  • Adding people in guardianship, and people who have been court-ordered to a mental treatment facility and are deemed as potentially violent, to the list of prohibited purchasers of firearms
  • Creation of Maryland center for school safety

Proposed Changes to Federal Law

  • Increased focus on mental health/school safety
  • Closing loopholes permitting private gun transactions without background checks
  • Banning “straw purchasers,” people who purchase firearms for people who would otherwise not be able to obtain them
  • Increased investment in local police departments
  • Reinstatement and expansion of assault weapon ban of 1994-2004
  • Creation of 10-round maximum for magazines
  • Removal of restrictions on the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Bureau to enable it to better enforce regulations
  • Establishment of annual report on lost and stolen guns
  • Requiring all guns be traced from manufacturer to dealer to purchaser
  • Banning of armor-piercing bullets

Allen Etzler also contributed to this article.

rodzzz January 26, 2013 at 04:16 PM
I can't see why anyone would oppose banning assault weapons. Have a read of http://rationalexaminer.com for why gun control should be supported.
tombarnes January 26, 2013 at 06:28 PM
I do not understand the push for an assault weapons ban. Given that rifles kill fewer people than hands and feet(FBI stats below) it seems this self-righteous push for an assault rifle ban is simply a way for the government to create the monopoly on lethal violence that all governments desire. It is much easier to intimidate a cowed population of scared non gun owners than to deal with a population of people who can look you in the eye. Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, a Wisconsin org., has a chart titled "Death by Gun Control" where they cite the gun control laws that were supposed to make people safer and had the opposite effect, the people were murdered en masse by their very own hostile government. http://jpfo.org/filegen-a-m/deathgc.htm I would also cite the FBI Stats here: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8 where the category "Hands and feet" kill more than the category "rifles" In Maryland itself, there were 398 murders in 2011. 272 of them were gun deaths. Of those 272 homicides, 2 of them were from rifles So can someone please explain to me what is with this push to outlaw rifles? I can only attribute less-than-honorable motives to this government sponsored political theater to disarm the only un protected (non pc) demographic cohort in the country today so that they may be subject to endless intimidation and harassment in the future.
mudcat21 January 26, 2013 at 07:43 PM
<“It’s a bear market," Calvert said. "Everyone is purchasing everything that comes in."> I love it when someone tries to use a term they don't understand. If everyone is buying everything that comes in it would be a bull market, not bear market.
LibertyGirl January 26, 2013 at 10:11 PM
If the assault on gun ownership is based on serious concerns for the safety of children, why don't liberals push to ban abortions?
Andrew January 26, 2013 at 11:54 PM
Why doesn't the "pro life" contingent support restrictions on gun ownership if they are concerned for the safety of children?
rodzzz January 27, 2013 at 06:31 AM
Tom: You are right that a ban on assault weapons will not significantly reduce gun-related homicides. But it is about reducing mass shootings, is it not? It's about stopping these lunatics who walk into a cinema and start popping a bullet into everyone within sight.
Steve Rice January 28, 2013 at 08:48 AM
Wow, for a second there I thought you linked me to the Communist Manifesto. A lot of the ideas are the same. First of all, "assault weapons" i.e. select-fire weapons have been banned from general public ownership long ago. The "scary-black" rifles you see in the movies that unload an infinite amount of ammo with one pull of a trigger are not available for the most part for public purchase. The guns that ARE owned by civilians today are simply only cosmetically similar. Look at the proposed AWB, none I repeat none, of the features that make it an "assault weapon" affect the mechanics of the gun. The writers of the ban literally went through a couple gun magazines and picked the "scary looking" ones and banned them. None of it was based on empirical evidence or any logical pretense except to further government control and a protectionist culture present in society today, Mechanically, these rifles work the same as the old wood stock M1 Garands our great grandfathers used in WW2. Meaning one-pull of the trigger equals one shot fired. Funny far LESS gun control back then and the violent crime rate was lower too. Second, there have been exponentially more murders committed with knives and "hands and feet" then rifles (and this includes all rifles not just the scary looking ones). Maybe we should ban those too according to your logic? Also, the founders wanted this country to be a Constitutional Republic NOT a democracy. The DIDN'T want legislation based on emotion
rodzzz January 28, 2013 at 09:22 AM
Steve: Of course we're talking about semi-automatic weapons here. The term "assault weapons" wasn't used in the linked article, except in relation to the "Federal Assault Weapons Ban" that the government used in relation to semi-automatic weapons (so blame them). The article separates two issues. The first is the proposal for bans on semi-automatic weapons intended to reduce mass shooting incidents and doesn't involve challenging the 2nd Amendment. The second is banning guns altogether to reduce gun-related deaths which would involve challenging the 2nd Amendment. People are getting completely confused over these two issues (as you seem to in your reply) and the important differences between them.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 08:21 AM
Oh I see. So the reason we're having these mass-shootings is because people are allowed to own semi-automatic rifles? Never mind that the technology has been around since the early 1900s. Never mind that they are millions upon millions of them in circulation and only a couple hundred of them have been involved in crime, not specifically murders, but crime a year. Yes, it comes out to less than 1%. A statistical "0" if you will. I'm sure the increase over hyped mass shootings has nothing to do with our "Prozac" nation, nothing to do with mental facilities being closed down, nothing to do with the general moral decay of our nation, nothing to do with parental or personal responsibility, and definitely nothing to do with the media sensationalism over these mass shootings officially enshrining the names of these lunatics into American history. Banning semi-auto firearms is effectively the same thing as an assault on the 2nd amendment. You're going to ban the most popular, by far type of weapon being used by millions of law-abiding citizens? It's like saying you have freedom of speech as long as you don't talk about your religion and claiming that isn't an assault on the 1st amendment. The banning of weapons is systemic. The anti's are waiting for the next shooting to involve handguns to go after those. In Australia, there is now legislation proposing banning bolt-actions! It does not end. This is not my right they're assaulting, IT'S OURS. Wake up man!
rodzzz January 29, 2013 at 09:33 AM
Steve: We all know that guns don't kill, people do. But the problem is screening isn't sufficient to catch the whackos. If screening worked, then we wouldn't even be having this conversation. As the article (http://rationalexaminer.com/2013/01/17/guncontrol1/) points out, it doesn't challenge the 2nd Amendment. The founders never had in mind semi-autos and mass shootings when they added it, and government has always had the right to define what guns are legal and illegal (e.g. full autos banned in 1934). So I don't buy that argument.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 03:47 PM
First of all the article you cite uses some of the weakest arguments ever. I feel like even calling them arguments is giving it to much credit. So, basically I'm reading "Soo...yea there is no evidence increasing gun control works in this country, so we're gonna go ahead and look at other nations and see if they work in others? Wait no violent crime rates going up there as well, so yea that won't work either." LOL, then this imbecile goes on and states, "The only real means for determining whether gun control in the United States will have an impact on violent crime is to introduce gun control and see what happens." SEE WHAT HAPPENS? Is this idiot insane? Does he think, the imposing of laws and restrictions is nothing but a science experiment? Apparently he does, because that's exactly what he proposes afterwards. "A group of random 25 control states and 25 with serious gun control measures." HAHA, are you sure we're talking about the same article? Never mind the fact the complete different demographics, economic status, and size of major population centers that these states possess. I seriously, can't believe the best you anti's can do is get some Aussie guy who agrees that there is no evidence suggesting gun control works and says well, let's just do it anyways, He then helps us out even more by saying 60% of firearm related deaths is due to SUICIDE. Please, so you're telling me if people didn't have access to semi-auto guns they would lose the will to kill themselves?
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 04:07 PM
And on to your slightly less worthless argument. The most recent mass-shootings in memory with Adam Lanza, James Holmes, and the V-tech shootings. Lanza's mother tried to commit him to a mental institution 3 times, but because it was not initiated by the State she was denied because she did not have a way to pay for it. Still, Lanza was denied purchase of a rifle at 2 different gun stores. So, sorry your argument is a fail. The only thing it proves is that a psychopath is just that. He/she will do ANYTHING regardless of any law on the book to achieve what they want to achieve. He killed his own mother for God's sakes? You think you can legislate the crazy out of him? What would have stopped him from taking his mom's truck and just running over kids after school and just downing some cyanide, arsenic, or strychnine right after? James Holmes was seen by 3 different psychiatrists prior to the shootings. Cho Seung-Hui before the V-tech shootings was deemed "an imminent danger to himself because of mental illness" and ordered outpatient treatment for him," by a Virginia judge. You really want to stop mass-shootings? Create laws that enable mental health providers to work with directly with NCIS. Flag their names, which would ban them from making purchases period until a judge rules that they can.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 04:11 PM
And no one is arguing for full-auto weapons to be legal. However, US vs. Miller it states, “The type of firearms protected by the 2nd Amendment are those specifically useful and common for military use in defense of the state.” The state meaning the people, not the government. The whole purpose of the 2A was to make sure that the people of a state were armed as well as any standing military as to be able to be called to arms at a moment's notice in defense of the state. So, again your argument is null and void. Even so, I am in the military and my civilian owned AR-15 has a completely different operating mechanism from my issued M4. The government does have a right to regulate certain firearms, i.e. barrels shorter than 18 inches, full-auto weapons, explosive weaponry etc. etc. but only if it can be proved that those weapons would not be useful or needed in the defense of the state. Now please rodzz, move to Australia or the UK. I hear gang violence is on the rise in both countries. Make sure you get a sturdy cane. I suggest hickory wood.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 04:18 PM
Oh and I forgot to mention Columbine and V-tech happened during the Assault Weapons Ban. It worked out pretty well didn't it? Cheers mate
rodzzz January 29, 2013 at 06:26 PM
Steve, a few points in response. So there's not enough evidence to show gun reforms reduce violence, and there's not enough evidence to show that guns serve to deter violence, so trotting out statistics atm is a waste of time. But if you allow some states to go with bans, and others not, then it should be possible to work it out. It's a fair point. I'm not sure why you don't get it. I don't think people suicide with semi-autos, so your point isn't relevant. I can't see anywhere in the article where it makes that link. Compulsory national reporting of mentally ill and background checks won't help much, because they can't be identified. Lanza is a good example of this. The fact that his mother thought he had a mental illness doesn't add up to much. The Miller judgement is widely regarded as confusing. So guns used for common military defense (i.e. which accord with "ordinary military equipment") are okay? So why are fully automatic weapons banned then? What did they mean by a "well regulated militia"? That would disqualify personal use of guns (e.g. for self defense). No one can make head or tail from the Miller judgement, and I don't think you can either. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban failed to remove semi-autos, so the fact that some mass shooting incidents occurred doesn't mean much either. Finally, gang violence in Australia and the UK is much lower than the US. Do you think giving them access to semi-autos would be a good idea?
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Yes, there is no evidence. So we do not legislate based on emotion. Life for our children, would be extremely dangerous in the future if we did. And for suicide he writes, "It also should be pointed out that the issue of violent assaults is not related to the issue of deaths by suicide, which accounts for approximately 60% of firearm related deaths in the United States (BJS, 2002)," That's firearms in general, so it just furthers my point. "Compulsory national reporting of mentally ill and background checks won't help much, because they can't be identified." That's my point. There are no laws on the books that allow or force social workers and certain mental health professionals to report individuals who have a tendency to commit bodily harm to the NCIS. Make it happen. It will do far more to curb sporadic mass-shootings than a "magazine restriction." Of course, gun violence still won't go down because the real issue lies in the heart of our major population centers. Blacks & Mexicans have been offing each other for decades, no one really seems to care. You can use the FBI's statistics on gun violence to literally target the very neighborhoods where shootings are prevalent. If you really wanted to curb gun violence politicians would march into these streets, institute policies to curb unemployment and invest in education. Magic, gun violence goes down. Of course, it doesn't make a good story for the media.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Fully automatic weapons are banned because they like barrels under 18 inches were deemed unnecessary for the public defense and the fact that gangsters were using them on police who were equipped with .38 special revolvers. That's not going out today. So quit perpetuating the myth that AR's and AK's are running rampant in the streets as if FARC decided to move up north. Oh yea, btw how's strict gun control working in Mexico for you, where mere possession of a firearm is illegal? It would be really tough to make the argument for semi-auto weapons, as not needed for personal or state defense. And "well-regulated militia,_ in the context it was written simply means a properly functioning militia. It would be the same as saying a "well-regulated car." As to who is the militia? ..."Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom. Congress has no power to disarm the militia. Their swords and every terrible implement of the soldier are the birthright of Americans. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments but where, I trust in God, it will always remain, in the hands of the people." -Tench Coxe, one of the founding fathers. And please, gang violence is lower in those countries because they have FAR FEWER urban centers than the US as well as a myriad of other SOCIAL factors. Crime/gun violence is exponentially higher in cities.
Steve Rice January 29, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Finally, your appeal to try more gun control isn't new at all, so quit acting like it is. There are plenty of states and areas that have super strict gun control, but still have the highest murder rates in the country. Look at Chicago and DC. They should be the safest cities in the country. But I dare you to take a midnight stroll on Chicago's north-side or on DC's "L-Street?" Haha, oh and I can't wait to hear the excuse that it's because they get their guns from Indiana or Virginia because they have less gun control, but for some reason their cities aren't even near as violent. The definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
rodzzz January 30, 2013 at 08:39 AM
Steve, I don't mind your arguments against gun control. I agree that the focus is misdirected. You could even say kicking up a fuss over mass shootings in white neighborhoods that constitute a small proportion of gun-related deaths and ignoring the gun deaths going on in the streets everyday in mostly black and Latino areas is kind of racist. If you ask me why there is less gang violence in Australia and the UK, I'd say it is because they have better welfare for the poor and offer free health and education, giving young poor kids some actual opportunities in life. The problem is, you probably won't see much support for any of these sorts of 'social' measures among the pro-gun group, because they view them as 'communist'. So what's the answer then in reducing gun-related deaths?
Rob February 04, 2013 at 11:11 PM
To Andrew. Because guns don't kill people, people kill people. Abortionists kill more people than any other group and they don't use guns. In fact far more children are killed in a week by abortionists then are killed yearly in the US by people using guns. In fact more babies are killed by abortionists in a week then athe total murders in a year. That does not include self abortions. Abortionists don't use guns they use much worse. They dice, slice and suck the baby out with no regard for the pain they cause.

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