Continued from page 1

“I couldn’t even believe they were even thinking about doing stuff like this,” Mr. Greer said. “The gun laws in Maryland are already extremely restrictive.”

Current law requires a purchase application, which is forwarded to the licensing division of the Maryland State Police. Officers check a series of 16 databases to make sure the prospective buyer is not prohibited from owning a gun. Once that process is complete, the application is verified, the gun dealer is notified and the buyer may pick up the gun.

The state police have a seven-day window to perform the background check and deny the application if necessary. The dealer then can release the gun, though doing so “is much more complicated,” Mr. Greer said. “I don’t want guns going into the hands of the wrong people. We are the final checkpoint before sending guns out in the public.”

Since the Oct. 1 deadline was set, Maryland State Police have been overwhelmed by what officials said are unprecedented numbers of firearm purchase applications.

As of Sept. 6, the licensing division received 88,884 applications and processed 48,934 of them, police said. Up to 200 state employees were recruited this month to help enter confidential information into computers to help speed up the process. That move has touched off a wave of criticism from firearms advocates claiming privacy violations, and at least one formal complaint by a Maryland delegate to the state’s attorney general.

State police said it plans to start conducting background checks Monday with the help of 20 additional police officers from the Maryland Transportation Authority, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Transit Administration, and Maryland Capital Police. By law, background checks must be conducted by police officers under the supervision of the state police.

Mr. Greer’s office has been receiving state police checks on applications from as far back as May, and that is without the laws requiring fingerprinting and a handgun license.

As of Oct. 1, anyone looking to buy a gun must get a handgun qualifying license, which includes four hours of handgun training taught by a certified instructor and time spent firing at a range.

Just what that course entails, or what is on the application for a license, is anyone’s guess, Mr. Greer said.

“No one really knows what’s on the application,” Mr. Greer said. “There’s not enough ranges to handle this.”

State police said an application process that complies with the laws has been developed by the state police information technology department and is scheduled to be implemented Oct. 1.

Police will have a 30-day window to process the application, Mr. Greer said, “so at best you can’t purchase or pick up your gun for a minimum of 30 days.”

“They’re already behind on applications because of the buying frenzy,” Mr. Greer said, suggesting that the most realistic scenario could be 60 or 90 days before an application is approved.

“Ninety percent of my store’s sales are handguns,” he said. “I can’t survive for a month. A business needs its cash flow.”

For the rest of this month, Mr. Greer will spend half of the week in Waldorf packing up the office, and the other half settling into his home and office, which is minutes from the Seven Springs ski resort and about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh.

Story Continues →