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A Maryland delegate is asking the state's attorney general whether it's legal for state police to allow up to 200 employees from five agencies to view prospective gun buyers' information as the state churns through an application backlog.
Delegate Kevin Kelly, D-Allegany County, wrote Attorney General Douglas Gansler seeking details on a three-day “All Hands on Deck” effort that began Saturday, the Washington Times reported.
“As one of these applicants I find it offensive, reprehensible and hopefully illegal that (nonpolice) personnel have access to the private information of Law-Abiding firearms purchasers,” Kelly wrote.
As the Oct. 1 effective date for the Firearm Safety Act approaches, state police are facing a crush of applicants seeking to avoid the new requirements for background checks, including handgun qualification license and fingerprinting requirements. The new law also adds 45 guns to a list of banned assault weapons and limits handgun magazines to 10 rounds. As of Friday, police said the licensing division had received 88,884 applications and processed 48,934 of them.
To help the division catch up, state police recruited employees from other agencies to handle the time-consuming entry of personal information from some of the tens of thousands applications into an electronic database, state police spokesman Greg Shipley said. The workers from the departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Transportation, Public Safety and Correctional Services, Human Resources, and Juvenile Services were chosen because they deal with personal data every day and application information was on encrypted discs set to be destroyed, he said.
“None of the data-entry personnel are doing background investigations. They do not have that access. We understand the sensitivity of this information, which is why we're using employees who deal with this kind of information,” Shipley said. “We are not putting it out for any kind of public review or dissemination.”
State police implemented a 21-hour, seven-day-per-week schedule in December, and state police personnel have clocked 24,000 hours in overtime processing applications, Shipley said.
A spokesman for the attorney general said he expected the office would respond in a couple of days.