April 5, 2013

Bullets are flying – off store shelves

Fear and rumors trigger a nationwide run on ammunition.

By MICHAEL VIRTANEN / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Bruce Martindale
click image to enlarge

Bruce Martindale competes in a weekly air gun league in Troy, N.Y. Martindale, who normally uses a .22-caliber, has cut back on practice because ammunition is in short supply.

The Associated Press

MARYLAND POISED TO ADD TOUGH GUN-CONTROL LAW

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland's already-strong gun laws will become among the strictest in the nation with a measure passed by the General Assembly Thursday, sending the bill to the Democratic governor who proposed the legislation in the aftermath of December's massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school.

The state Senate voted 28-19 for final passage.

The measure would require people who buy a handgun to submit fingerprints to state police, bans 45 types of assault weapons, and limits gun magazines to 10 bullets. It also addresses firearms access for the mentally ill.

Maryland will become the first state in nearly 20 years to require potential handgun buyers to submit fingerprints to state police. Only five other states have a similar requirement: Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.

Although the measure bans 45 types of assault weapons, people who own them now will be able to keep them. People who order the weapons before Oct. 1, when the law would take effect, also would be able to keep them.

People who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility won't be allowed to have a gun.

Critics noted that Maryland already has strong laws, including universal background checks and a seven-day waiting period to buy a gun. The state doesn't even have a loophole allowing for private sales at gun shows without the same background check that licensed dealers are required to obtain, said Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard.

"We have those protections, and what we're doing here is basically saying to folks who are concerned about their Second Amendment rights is, you know, 'We don't care,"' Kittleman said.

Also on Thursday, Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed into law sweeping new restrictions on weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre there.

– The Associated Press

The government routinely buys products in bulk to reduce costs, and Homeland Security has said the latest purchases are no different.

Last year, the department put out bids for a total of about 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years. The rounds are to be used for training, routine weapons qualification exercises and normal duty by various department agencies.

This isn't the first U.S. run on ammunition. Walmart's Kory Lundberg said the retail chain previously rationed in 2009, the year Obama entered the White House. However, sportsmen and tradesmen say the current shortages are nationwide, and the worst they've seen.

New York's law will require ammunition sellers to register and buyers to undergo a background check starting Jan. 15, 2014. Richard Aborn, president of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said the run on guns and ammunition isn't surprising and is fueled by "gross exaggerations."

Bruce Martindale, a champion marksman from upstate New York who normally uses .22-caliber rimfire ammunition, said it's now hard for him to get anything, partly because online retailers are reluctant to ship to New York, with its new law.

"I can't buy supplies anywhere," he said. Like many competitors, he has cut back on practice but says he doesn't see a public safety concern.

"This is legitimate gun owners buying," he said. "I don't think criminals are stockpiling."

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