Police officers recruited to handle backlog of gun-buyer background checks

About 20 police officers from across the state have been enlisted to help the Maryland State Police complete tens of thousands of background checks for gun buyers that have been languishing for several months.

Half of the state's gun dealers have stopped waiting for the checks to be completed. The state police announced Thursday it was launching a second phase to clear the backlog before a new handgun law takes effect at the end of the month.

The first phase — using state data entry workers to create a database for checks — drew complaints about privacy concerns from gun buyers, two state lawmakers and gun-rights groups.

A spike in gun sales has overwhelmed the state's background check system, and at least 45 guns have been released to people barred from owning them. All have been recovered. The backlog has also complicated implementing the state's new gun law, which requires gun buyers to get a new handgun license.


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