Gun owners, gun-store employees scrambling to understand Maryland's new gun law
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 / May 23, 2013)
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.