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Posted: 10/30/2001 8:27:49 AM EST
[url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6256-2001Oct17.html[/url] Handgun sales in Maryland have plunged this year and are on pace to reach their lowest annual total in more than a decade, the result of a new gun-control law that has slowed firearm shipments into the state. Although demand for firearms has risen since the terrorist attacks last month, records show that the number of people seeking to purchase revolvers and pistols since Jan. 1 has dwindled dramatically, primarily because of the law requiring Maryland State Police to collect ballistics information about each new handgun sold. During the first nine months of the year, state police processed 17,909 applications to buy handguns. At that rate, fewer than 24,000 people would apply to buy handguns this year -- a 30 percent decline from 2000. It would also be the lowest annual total in at least 12 years, according to state police statistics. "There's been a spike in the past few weeks, but things were pretty slow before that," said Sanford Abrams, owner of Valley Guns in Towson and vice president of the Maryland Association of Licensed Firearms Dealers. Abrams said he used to sell 200 to 300 Glock pistols annually but expects to peddle fewer than two dozen of that brand this year. The drop in sales is not universal. In Southern Maryland, dealers reported steady demand for handguns this year. For instance, Tom Bennett, owner of Southern Maryland Firearms in Leonardtown, said the Maryland shell casing law has not caused sales at his store to decrease. Though not as many new handguns are finding their way into Maryland, Bennett said, used gun sales have more than made up for any losses. "We're selling about 10 times the amount of used guns," Bennett said. He said many of his customers have purchased guns as a display of defiance to the intentions of the law. "About half of my customers are professionals. They know the laws and they resent the government we have in Annapolis for having this agenda," Bennett said. The statewide sales decline marks a sharp reversal from the past two years. In 1998, 27,667 people had applied to buy guns. Gun sales soared higher in 1999, when 33,038 people applied to buy handguns in response to millennial fears. They continued to rise last year, partly in anticipation of the passage of more gun-control laws in Maryland. But handgun purchases began to drop soon after Oct. 1, 2000, when the new ballistics rule took effect. The measure, part of a broader gun-control law passed by legislators last year, requires firearms manufacturers to provide state police with a shell casing test-fired from every new handgun sold in Maryland. Rifles and shotguns were exempted from the requirement. The spent shells contain markings and grooves that are unique to each gun, similar to fingerprints from the human hand. By scanning microscopic images from the casings into a database, police can sometimes determine that ammunition used in different crimes was fired from the same gun. Maryland was the first state to enact a "ballistics fingerprints" law, although New York has since followed suit and other states, including California, are considering similar measures.
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 8:28:20 AM EST
Many gun manufacturers, however, simply stopped shipping their products to Maryland rather than comply with the law, saying it was not worth the expense to change their production lines to suit a state that accounts for only 2 percent of handgun sales nationwide. "The law essentially barred guns from entering the state," said Carl Roy, owner of Marlboro Small Arms, a shooting range and gun store in Upper Marlboro. "It was a real mess there for a while," he said. "The manufacturers weren't geared up to ship guns into the state, so there weren't any to sell." The law did not cover used handguns or weapons manufactured before the deadline, but gun dealers said they quickly exhausted their inventories of those items. After retailers complained that they were running out of products to sell, state officials agreed to a compromise plan that allowed manufacturers to resume handgun shipments without shell casings. Instead, since June, gun dealers have had the option of taking the weapons to one of six firing ranges in Maryland where technicians hired by the state police test-fire the guns and collect the spent casings. The test costs $20 and is assessed to the gun buyer. Lt. Bud Frank, a state police spokesman, said the arrangement has worked well. "We've made it as convenient as possible," he said. But it's only a temporary measure. The state police test-fire program is supposed to expire in December. After that, manufacturers will no longer be able to deliver handguns to the state without including a shell casing. Frank said that police anticipate that handgun sales will rebound until then -- partly in response to the terrorist attacks, but also because demand usually increases during the Christmas shopping season. "Sales can fluctuate up and down dramatically over a long period of time," he said. "But I don't think they'll drop back down anymore for a while."
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 8:35:54 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/30/2001 8:33:23 AM EST by gardenWeasel]
Unique finger print...HA! Just change the extractor, firing pin, and ejector. Or deburr the firing pin hole, stone the breech face and throw in a barrel with a tighter chamber.
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 8:46:35 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 8:57:06 AM EST
I know I cannot leave well enough alone. It's just an itch waiting to be scratched. There is nothing more appealing to me than spending nearly twice as much (as the cost of a new handgun) to get it running the way I want it to which is usually the way it should have been in the first place. [BD]
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 9:00:13 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 9:08:04 AM EST
[size=4]It's a defacto ban on handguns[/size=4] [size=2]I won't buy anymore handguns while living in Maryland. I bought a couple more before the "ban" went into effect, and that's it. They won.[/size=2]
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 9:26:37 AM EST
The wonderful state of Maryland assumes that if you purchase a firearm, you are a criminal and begins collecting evidence against you. Because in the eyes of the People's Republic of Maryland, there are no legitimate uses of handguns, period. I hate this state, between the outrageous taxes, stupid gun laws, and charming folks who seem to be overrunning once nice neighborhoods..... Pennsylvania looks better and better every day.
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 9:45:16 AM EST
But handgun purchases began to drop soon after Oct. 1, 2000
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That's not the only thing that was beginning to drop. [:(]
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 11:36:30 AM EST
It is too expensive and too difficult to buy handguns in Maryland now. Most of us are looking for a better state to move to, or at least establishing residence in a friendlier state. GunLvr
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 11:47:58 AM EST
Hmm. Increase the bureaucratic hurdles to buying and selling handguns and sales fall of? Imagine that! I'll bet the black market sales have been doing pretty well.
Link Posted: 10/30/2001 3:56:02 PM EST
Originally Posted By trickshot: Hmm. Increase the bureaucratic hurdles to buying and selling handguns and sales fall of? Imagine that! I'll bet the black market sales have been doing pretty well.
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Actually, what most people are doing now is getting handguns illegally through private transfers (pvt. Transfers of handguns and SURs are illegal in MD). This makes me happy.
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