Right now, COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of things get done. It’s also created an insane patchwork of measures that some folks may be having a hard time dealing with right now. After all, there are so many guidelines that it’s difficult for anyone to keep up with everything.
As a result, at least one county in Maryland is asking the state for some clarification.
Montgomery County Council wrote to the state last week asking it to make sure gun shops are following social distancing orders and that background checks for gun purchases are completed in a timely basis.
Council Vice President Tom Hucker explained the impetus for the letter, which was sent to Gov. Larry Hogan, arose after he saw a photo circulating on social media of “long lines out the door and around the block” at Atlantic Guns on Bonifant Street in Silver Spring soon after restrictions about social distancing were put in place.
Gun sales are up in Maryland, according to the FBI’s National Institute Criminal Background Check System (NICS). There were 5,810 background checks for gun permits conducted in March of this year. During the same month in 2019, there were 4,123.
Gun shops are considered essential businesses in Maryland.
All nine councilmembers, as well as the leaders of several non-profit pro-gun control organizations, signed the letter, which noted that they were concerned about long lines in and outside crowded stores and “about customers touching inventory items and inadvertently spreading disease.”
Other concerns expressed in the letter dealt with security and background checks.
“Lack of accountability with our gun policies in a time of upheaval can have deadly consequences for individuals who are at higher risk during times of serious social isolation, particularly those expressing domestic violence and/ or mental health crises and who might not access support systems that would be available during normal circumstances,” it said in the letter.
Another concern expressed in the letter was whether the seven-day wait for a background check was being met in light of the increase in requests.
“Additionally we are concerned about the rapid increase in background check requests and the state’s ability to accommodate this surge,” the council members wrote.
Gun stores all over the nation are reporting a meteoric rise in the number of new gun buyers, which is taxing an already taxed system to an insane degree. Concerns about whether the system can handle it are likely to be quite valid.
However, let’s not pretend that this sudden influx of gun sales is likely to have any real impact on domestic violence. While those numbers do appear to be climbing, that likely has more to do with people being forced to not just be at home but to remain there no matter what. There’s no real escape for victims.
In fact, one of the few things they can do is buy a gun to defend themselves with during these troubled times. Assuming, of course, they can get one with the current demand and the draconian regulations in place in states like Maryland.