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Officials Wait To Gauge New Md. Gun Law Effects

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By BRIAN ENGLAR
The Frederick News-Post

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Frederick County fingerprinting services expect new customers with the passage of a new state gun law, but officials say they are taking a wait-and-see approach before adding resources.

The new law, signed into law earlier this month and scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, requires fingerprints to be submitted as part of a licensing process for all handgun purchases.

Frederick County has two places that offer fingerprinting. The sheriff’s office has walk-in hours from noon until 5 p.m.

Tuesday through Thursday, and the Frederick branch of the Motor Vehicle Administration fingerprints by appointment during normal business hours.

Lt. Tom Winebrenner, who oversees the sheriff’s office’s fingerprinting service, said the law will lead to an increased demand for fingerprinting. The sheriff’s office fingerprints an average of 30 people each day the service operates.

“We’re the only walk-in service right now in Frederick County,” Winebrenner said. “I think we’re going to get the majority of it.”

Just how much of an effect the law will have remains to be seen, Winebrenner said. He said a recent increase in the hours of operation from only one day a week will help cushion some of the impact.

Winebrenner said there have been discussions about the need for more resources, but a decision won’t be made until officials have an idea of what is needed. Four part-time employees are in the fingerprinting room, only three of whom work on a given day.

“There are a number of things we can do approach the issue,” he said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how it impacts us.”

Brad Baxter, who fingerprints between 10 and 20 people a day at the MVA, said he also expects to see an increase in appointments. He also helps with overflow from the sheriff’s office when he doesn’t have an appointment scheduled.

What Baxter said remains uncertain is the cost for fingerprints under the new law. Prices currently range from $54.50 for a day care provider to $90 for hazmat certification.

“I have no idea what it’s going to cost,” Baxter said. “If they send you through more databases, it’s going to be more.”

The sheriff’s office has not received word about the cost for gun license fingerprinting, spokeswoman Sgt. Jennifer Bailey said.

“That will have to be determined by state officials,” Bailey said.

Maryland State Police will handle the background checks under the new law, but aren’t likely to begin offering fingerprinting services, said spokesman Greg Shipley. State police stopped fingerprinting about a year ago when the FBI started requiring electronic prints for background checks.

“I don’t think so, simply because it would an overwhelming task that would be a drain on personnel and resources,” Shipley said.

The agency will add 66 new positions to meet the demands placed on it by the gun legislation, Shipley said, seven of which will be sworn troopers and the rest civilian employees. The new employees will be largely responsible for inputting data and performing background checks. The positions have already been advertised, Shipley said.

“There will be a substantial amount of additional work for Maryland State Police,” he said.
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Information from: The Frederick (Md.) News-Post, http://www.fredericknewspost.com
AP-WF-05-30-13 1627GMT
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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