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April 18, 1968 Following Martin Luther King assassination;

Applications for purchase of hand guns soar following death of civil rights leader

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Published on: Thursday, September 15, 2011

Each week, The Sentinel revisits a memorable story from our archives. 

Applications for the purchase of hand guns almost doubled in Montgomery County after the April 14 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and subsequent rioting in Washington.

Rockville barracks of the Maryland State Police Processed 115 county applications received between April 8 and 15.

The average number of applications for a comparable period would be between 60 and 72, or 10 to 12 daily according to Trooper C.W. Whiteside, who is in charge of processing.

Applications were forwarded by gun dealers who, despite a ban on the sale of firearms that was not lifted until Monday, permitted prospective purchasers to fill out applications as required by a 1966 state law.

The number of applications reached a peak on April 10, the day after King’s funeral, when 31 were received. Thirty more were receive on April 12.

Also included in the 115 total were 22 applications received on April 8, 18 on the 15th and 14 on the 11th.

Whiteside said he did not know if the 115 applications represent a record for the county but said this is “just about double” the amount normally received in a week.

There also was a “sharp increase” in the number of applications after last summer’s riots, Whiteside added.

Baltimore County reported a record number of 262 hand gun applications last week.

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