The number of gun purchase applications processed by the Maryland State Police so far this year is already about 48% higher than the total number of applications processed last year, according to data MSP recently provided to MarylandReporter.com.
Between Jan. 1-Oct. 23, 2020 MSP’s Licensing Division processed 79,269 applications. By comparison, MSP processed 53,726 applications in 2019 and 53,544 applications in 2018.
The state appears to be following a national trend. A recent University of California study said that during this past spring-which marked the height of the pandemic-that nationwide gun sales increased more than 64%.
But what accounts for the recent uptick in gun purchases? Is it the coronavirus pandemic? The prospect of Democrat Joe Biden winning the presidency and pressing for more gun regulations?
“I think its probably a combination of both,” Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) said in a phone interview on Tuesday.
Chisholm added: “If you turn on the nightly news, obviously, if it bleeds it leads. And with the riots in Portland and riots throughout the country-I think that it plays to the human internal fear of not being able to protect yourself. We are all born with the need to protect ourselves and I think that all of these images scare people.”
Chisholm reiterated that the prospect of a Biden win coupled with the pandemic are probably the reasons gun sales have surged in Maryland.
“People are out purchasing whatever they can. We saw this huge spike during the Obama administration as well. And I think that its the uncertainty with COVID-19. I think that people feel a little bit more alone during COVID, especially when we are telling people to stay in their houses. And I think that when people feel alone they feel vulnerable.”
Del. Rick Impallaria (R-Baltimore and Harford) echoed similar sentiments to Chisholm.
“It’s a little of all of the above.”
Impallaria went on to say that a Biden win would represent a serious threat to both Maryland’s and the nation’s gun owners.
“People are very nervous that Biden and Harris have made it clear throughout the years that they are anti-Second Amendment-despite what they may be trying to say now with the election.”
However, Sen. Will Smith (D-Montgomery) disputed the characterization of the Democratic ticket.
“I’d have to refute that. Obviously, gun safety is a significant part of the platform but that doesn’t mean it will have a significant effect or impact on lawful gun owners-people that are interested in recreation and hunting-and people that pass background checks.”
Smith, who is chair of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, added: “What it does mean is that certain loopholes will be closed. For instance, the so-called ‘Charleston loophole’ things like that will be addressed either at the state level or the federal level. But if you are a law-abiding gun owner interested in recreation and sport then I would say that you have nothing to worry about.”
Smith largely attributed the uptick in Maryland’s gun sales to the pandemic.
“I think it’s largely attributable to the pandemic and people being nervous about what the future will bring and potentially gun stores being shut down. I think it’s largely attributable to the pandemic. But one could also suspect that a potential change in administration could have something to do with it.”
And others might be concerned about an uptick in violence at the polls or ballot boxes with the elections just around the corner.
Less than two weeks ago in Baltimore City, a security guard who was in charge of guarding a ballot drop box was shot while sitting in his car. The security guard was unarmed. The non-fatal shooting is being investigated by the Baltimore Police and the Maryland State Board of Elections.