Gun shops remain open in Maryland following orders closing non-essential businesses and travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and shops in St. Mary's County have seen an influx of new shoppers.
Licensed firearms dealers are permitted to stay open following the most recent stay-at-home order by Gov. Larry Hogan (R), according to Greg Shipley, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Police.
Cromwell’s Firearms in Great Mills is staying open as of Tuesday, but on a highly limited basis, only allowing about one customer in at a time, according to shopkeep Tom Cromwell.
“It’s mostly pickups, people who already bought a gun and have been waiting on a background check,” Cromwell said.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the shop has seen “a lot more first-time buyers,” according to Cromwell.
“I think, maybe they’re scared, anxious about what’s going on,” he said.
The arms dealer has also seen a “run on popular rounds” of ammunition, with 9 mm and 5.56 mm ammo running low on supply.
Background checks for handgun purchases, which normally take about 10 minutes, have recently been taking much longer, according to Cromwell, now taking up to a week or more to complete due to an overwhelming of the system.
Although the Maryland State Police still offers Handgun Qualification Licenses through its online licensing system, most instructional courses required for the licenses have been canceled due to the pandemic, and fingerprinting sessions are closed.
Lexington Park shooting range and gun shop Flat Broke Shooters, which offers HQL courses, shut down its shooting range last week due to the pandemic, canceling all classes.
Most current licenses, including wear and carry permits, will not expire during the state’s state of emergency following a March 12 order by Hogan, suspending expirations until 30 days after the state of emergency is lifted.
Hunting is also severely limited due to the governor’s order, with only some hunting permitted. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources stated in a Monday release that limited sustenance hunting is still allowed following the stay-at-home order, but all other recreational hunting is prohibited.
The department has suspended in-person safety classes, and is referring those who are required to complete classes to take online courses. Those seeking the department’s hunter education requirements for licenses, which require a field training session, will be given a voucher for a field training session within the next year upon completion of the online course.