More than 200 guns were sold to people legally barred from owning them as a surge in firearms sales last year overwhelmed Maryland’s background check system, reports the Baltimore Sun. One gun went to a man accused of using it in a carjacking. The sales occurred last year in a flurry before Maryland’s tough new gun law enacted after the Newtown school massacre took effect. With Maryland State Police unable to keep up with the flood of background checks, some dealers distributed firearms to customers after waiting seven days, as they were allowed to do under state law. Dealers released more than 50,000 guns before checks were completed.
The agency is been months behind in completing some checks and is still tackling a backlog of 30,000 applications. The number of firearms that wound up in the wrong hands has continued to climb since The Sun reported last summer that two dozen guns went to people barred from ownership. While all but six of the weapons have been recovered by troopers, the revelation that the backlog contributed to a violent crime is triggering a new debate over Maryland’s firearm safety law. “There was a failure of leadership in making sure that people who had priorfelonies and convictions had no access to guns,” said Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democratic candidate for governor. “It was not managed well. When there’s a failure of leadership, people can get hurt.”