Roy said most dealers have chosen to wait, partly in fear of retaliation because the state police oversee Maryland gun dealers.
“They can come in and do inspections and make you pull out every gun you have all day long,” Roy said. “That’s the problem that dealers are facing: Do I release the gun because the law says I can, or do I wait for the Maryland State Police?”
Three gun groups filed a lawsuit last month in Baltimore County Circuit Court, asking a judge to intervene — either by demanding the state police complete background checks within seven days or by having the agency issue a statement making clear there will be no civil or criminal liability for gun dealers who do not wait for the background checks to be completed.
While dealers are not required to wait more than seven days, current law also says they can later be held responsible if they sell a gun to someone they know or should have known was disqualified from buying one.
Attorneys for the state police declined to comment publicly on the lawsuit or what liability the dealers may face for selling guns to people before background checks are complete.
“The law states that the firearms dealer must hold that weapon for seven days,” said Shipley, the state police spokesman. “After that, the law is silent.”
He added, “We believe that firearms dealers share our concern for public safety. We certainly hope that firearms are not being released until those background checks come back.”
If guns end up in the hands of felons or people otherwise disqualified from owning firearms, the state police have the responsibility of retrieving them, Shipley said.
Some dealers say they’d prefer to wait, but they’re facing complaints from customers who say bureaucratic delays are blocking their Second Amendment rights.