Reporting Mike Hellgren
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden met with law enforcement leaders about gun control policy. It’s the kickoff to the administration’s efforts to come up with proposals for reducing gun violence in the wake of Connecticut’s school massacre. In addition to firearms restrictions, they’re expected to look for ways to increase mental health resources and consider steps to keep society from glamorizing guns and violence.
That meeting included Baltimore County’s police chief. In his county and across Maryland, many gun stores are packed—in part because of concern over possible new restrictions.
Mike Hellgren takes a deeper look at the jump in gun sales.
“Gun people aren’t bad guys,” said Wilhelm Helfrich, a gun owner and seller.
Helfrich has seen sales surge at his store, Duffy’s Gun Room in Sparks, over fears lawmakers will place major restrictions on what weapons they buy and how they buy them.
“Really, we’ve hit a watershed in sales. I think what people are doing now is voting with their pocketbook and letting people know we’re serious. We want to keep our guns,” Helfrich said.
The rush began shortly after the massacre in Connecticut and became more urgent as lawmakers proposed a litany of possible regulations.
“We need to stand together as one to protect our streets, our neighbors, our homes, our children,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“Folks are very much concerned our hobby is going to be adversely affected by pretty radical changes in the law,” Helfrich said. “I have four kids of my own, and it definitely touches a chord. The situation right now is politically a hot potato.”
Waits are longer for background checks too, as the nation struggles with solutions following Sandy Hook.
“The civil right to firearms is dangerous, and that’s why it’s a right. This is not something that’s free or easy. There will always be someone who misuses their rights,” said gun owner Gene Hoffman.
Proposals in Maryland include limits on assault rifles, the size of magazines, more regulations on sellers and on who can buy weapons– but nothing is official yet.
“It certainly seems like they have a fervor that they want to get this done and get it done quickly,” Helfrich said.
Governor Martin O’Malley says he’s against assault rifles and will introduce gun control legislation in the next legislative session, which starts January 9.