Maryland Background Check System Back Online, But With Big Backlog

In the midst of record setting gun sales, the system used by the Maryland State Police to conduct background checks suffered a “catastrophic failure” earlier in the week, putting an abrupt halt to gun sales across the state. Thankfully, the state police announced on Thursday that the process is back up and running as of Wednesday evening, though employees are now dealing with a major backlog in background checks.

“The Licensing Division continues to work with Maryland’s licensed firearms dealers to track any regulated firearm released after the waiting period, but before full completion of the background check process,” a state police statement said.

State police said 52 firearms had been released to customers after the seven-day waiting period had passed, and were the first to undergo background checks when they resumed. None of those individuals were found to have been prohibited from obtaining a firearm.

State police said that even with employees working 24 hours a day, it will take “several days” for employees to work through the remaining applications that should have been previously processed.

Earlier today, we reported on the 500% increase in FOID card permits in Illinois, which has led to thousands of gun owners waiting for months to get their permission slip to exercise their constitutional right. I haven’t heard of a similar backlog for Maryland Handgun Qualification Licenses, which are required before you can legally purchase a pistol in the state, but they’re part of the same system that crashed, so if the state police didn’t have a backlog before, they certainly do now.

“Several days” is a fairly vague forecast as to when they might be caught up. Is that less than a week? More? I don’t get the impression that they’ll be months behind, as the state of Illinois currently is, but it’s still pretty open-ended, and I’m sure Maryland is experiencing the same record-setting pace of gun sales that we’re seeing in virtually every state of our increasingly dysfunctional union.

Over at HotAir, my friend Ed Morrissey has a piece about the soaring gun sales in his state of Minnesota, where the riots, looting, unrest, and calls to abolish the police have led to a flood of first-time gun buyers.

Gee, whodathunkit? Let’s allow the streets to burn, demand the dismantling of the police department, and then call concern over property crimes and assaults a symptom of “privilege.” Minnesotans have responded by rediscovering one of the core purposes of the Second Amendment — mainly first-time firearms buyers, local CBS affiliate WCCO reports.

“People are really scared,” one gun-store owner says, and they should be.

I was talking earlier today to a friend who works at a local gun store in Farmville, and he says the run on firearms and ammunition has left their shelves nearly bare with next to no new inventory coming in. The other day the store received their ammunition order, or at least all that the distributor could give them: a single box of 9mm ammunition.

While we’re seeing these increases nationwide, there’s still some localized swells and surges that may not be seen in areas of the country that haven’t experienced as much unrest and violence. In Florida, for example, background check requests are down considerably from where they were a few weeks ago.

Between May 26 and June 14, FDLE reported 117,669 background checks have been conducted in the state – four times the typical sales for the span.

There were 30,657 background checks in Florida in the week after Floyd’s death, according to FDLE.

On June 1, 8,597 background checks were processed, more than four times higher than the first Monday in June last year, FDLE reported.

FDLE documented NCIS conducted another 10,318 background checks June 2 for Florida gun sales.

By June 14, new checks dwindled to 2,620 a day, according to FDLE, but still were significantly outpacing typical sales numbers.

So, still higher than normal, but not nearly as high as the peaks on June 1st and 2nd, when the first major protests against the killing of George Floyd erupted around the country, leading to riots and looting in dozens of cities. If violence spikes again in Florida or becomes more widespread in the coming weeks, the number of residents deciding to exercise their Second Amendment rights will spike once again.

Similar stories are playing out with local variations in all 50 states right now, and likely will over what are typically the slowest months of the year for firearms purchases. In fact, I  don’t know that we’re going to see much of a dip at all before we head into the fall, when gun sales are typically at their highest levels in any given year. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that 2-million Americans became gun owners for the first time between January and June, and we will likely see at least another million before Election Day in November.

We need to obviously impress on these new gun owners the need to secure their newfound right, but as we also need to reach them on a non-political level and encourage them to be safe and responsible with their new firearms. Ranges are open in most places around the country, but if you know someone who can’t make it to the range at the moment, make sure you share some links to genuine gun safety videos. Ryan Cleckner has a great series at Gun University that’s perfect for new gun owners to at least get the basics before they can get some hands-on training.

On the political side, in Maryland and beyond we have a fantastic opportunity to engage not just with these new gun owners, but the frustrated Americans who would love to be able to exercise their rights if the government could only get its act together. Those individuals can be powerful voices and a potent energy for the Second Amendment movement, as long as they’re willing and able to speak up. With the problems we’re seeing in states like Maryland and Illinois, I’d like to think wouldn’t be a problem, and that many of these would-be gun owners are already rethinking their previous objections to some of gun control measures that sounded so full of common sense just a short time ago.