Gun laws in Maryland
|Subject/Law||Long Guns||Handguns||Relevant Statutes||Notes|
|State permit required to purchase?||No||Yes||Md Public Safety Article Section 5-117.1||A Handgun Qualification License is required, unless exempted (Active Duty/Retired Military with identification cards, Active/Retired Law Enforcement with department credentials, Federal Firearms Licensees); training is required, unless exempted; fingerprints are required; background checks are required; does not invalidate the requirement to perform a comprehensive background check for every handgun purchase transaction.|
|Firearm registration?||No||Yes||The state police maintain a permanent record of all handgun transfers. Automatic weapons must be registered with the state police.|
|Owner license required?||No||No|
|Permit required for concealed carry?||N/A||Yes||Maryland is a "may issue" state for concealed carry. Applicants must demonstrate a "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun. Permits are normally very difficult (but not impossible) for ordinary citizens to obtain. An applicant may be issued either an unrestricted permit or a permit with varying degrees of restrictions at the discretion of the issuing authority.|
|Permit required for open carry?||No||Yes||Open carry is permitted with a carry license, but is not generally practiced except by uniformed private security officers. Long guns and antique handguns may be carried openly without a license.|
|State preemption of local restrictions?||Yes||Yes||Maryland has state preemption for most but not all firearm laws.|
|Assault weapon law?||Yes||Yes||Md Criminal Law Article Section 4-303
Firearms Safety Act of 2013
|Certain models of firearms are banned as assault pistols and assault long guns. It is illegal to possess an assault weapon or a copycat weapon with two or more specified features (folding stock, grenade/flare launcher, flash suppressor) unless owned before 10/1/2013, or received through inheritance from a lawful possessor and not otherwise forbidden to possess.|
|Magazine capacity restriction?||Yes||Yes||Illegal to purchase, sell or manufacture magazines with a capacity of greater than 10 rounds within Maryland. However, possession of magazines greater than 10 rounds is legal if purchased out of state. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner unless done so outside the state of Maryland.|
|NFA weapons restricted?||No||No||Automatic firearms, SBSs, and SBRs must be owned in compliance with federal law. Law is silent in regards to DDs, suppressors, and AOWs.|
|Background checks required for private sales?||Partial||Yes||GAM Public Safety, §5-124||All private transfers of regulated firearms (handguns or assault weapons) must be processed through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency which must conduct a background check on the buyer.|
|Red flag law?||Yes||Yes|||
|Gun laws in Maryland|
|Constitution sections||Constitution of Maryland,|
Declaration of Rights.
|Preemption and local regulation|
|Preemption sections||Criminal Law – §4–209.|
Public Safety – § 5–134.
|Local regulation sections||See below for existing local regulations.|
|Ownership registration sections||Criminal Law – §4-401.|
Criminal Law – § 4-303.
|Purchase registration sections||Public Safety – § 5–101.|
Annapolis City – § 11.44.030
|Restricted or prohibited items|
|Restricted firearms sections||Criminal Law – § 4-301.|
Criminal Law – § 4-303.
|Restricted accessories sections||Criminal Law – § 4-305.|
|Restricted or prohibited places|
|Restricted places sections||Criminal Law – § 4-102.|
Montgomery County – § 57–11.
|Restricted or prohibited persons|
|Underage persons sections||Public Safety – § 5–101.|
Public Safety – § 5–134.
|Restricted persons sections||Public Safety – § 5–101.|
Public Safety – § 5–134.
|Convicted persons sections||Public Safety – § 5–101.|
Public Safety – § 5–134.
|Manufacturing regulations sections||Public Safety – § 5–402.|
Criminal Law – § 4-305.
|Sale, purchase, and transfer|
|Dealer regulations sections||Public Safety – § 5–106.|
Public Safety – § 5–204.
|Private sale regulations sections||Public Safety – § 5–106.|
|Gun show regulations sections||Public Safety – § 5–130.|
|Transportation and carry|
|Transportation restrictions sections||Criminal Law – § 4-201.|
Criminal Law – §4-405.
|Open carry restrictions sections||Criminal Law – § 4-201.|
Criminal Law – § 4-203.
The Constitution of Maryland contains no provision protecting the right for individuals to keep and bear arms. The state preempts some local firearm regulations, though local governments may regulate firearms with respect to minors and areas of public assembly. Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Gaithersburg, and Baltimore are known to have local firearm regulations.
The Constitution of Maryland, Declaration of Rights, Art. 2. The Constitution of the United States, and the Laws made, or which shall be made, in pursuance thereof, and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, are, and shall be the Supreme Law of the State; and the Judges of this State, and all the People of this State, are, and shall be bound thereby; anything in the Constitution or Law of this State to the contrary. Maryland state law currently blocks anyone who has been in a mental facility or has been reported or coded at mentally ill from buying a gun notwithstanding.
The Maryland State Police maintain a registry of "regulated firearms" that are allowed to be sold within the state.
Integrated Ballistics Identification System
Until 2016, dealers were required to forward the manufacturer-included shell casing (or one provided by the federally licensed gun shop) in its sealed container to the Department of State Police Crime Laboratory upon sale, rental, or transfer of a "regulated firearm" for inclusion in their ballistics database, known as the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS). The program was shut down in 2015 due to its ineffectiveness.
Laws prohibiting firearms
On April 4, 2013, the Maryland General Assembly approved legislation imposing significant new restrictions on gun ownership. The bills ban the sale of certain semi-automatic firearms that they define as assault weapons, limit magazine capacity to ten rounds, require that handgun purchasers be fingerprinted and pass a training class in order to obtain a handgun license, and bar persons who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution from possessing firearms. Martin O'Malley Governor at the time, signed the legislation into law on May 16, 2013. Regarding 10 round magazine limits for rifles purchased in Maryland, standard 30 round magazines may be purchased outside Maryland and brought into the state for personal use. Those standard magazines may not be transferred, given, sold or manufactured inside Maryland.
As of October 1, 2013, detachable magazines for semi-automatic handguns and semi-automatic centerfire rifles which are capable of holding more than 10 rounds may not be purchased, manufactured or sold, though they may be possessed (but not transferred within the state) by persons who already owned them prior to enactment of the 2013 changes. Magazines greater than ten rounds may be purchased or acquired outside the state and carried into Maryland and used within the state. Certain pistols are classified as "assault pistols", and banned from ownership if not registered prior to August 1, 1994. Only handguns on the official handgun roster may be sold in the state. Private sales of "regulated firearms," which includes handguns, are permissible, but must be done at a local Maryland State Police barracks. As of 1 Oct, a Handgun Qualification License (HQL) is required for the sale, as well as a background check and a mandatory seven-day waiting period. A person must obtain a safety training certificate prior to purchasing "regulated firearms" and present that certificate prior to each purchase. With some limited exceptions for designated firearms collectors, only one "regulated firearm" may be purchased in any 30-day period. Handguns manufactured on or before December 31, 2002, must be sold or transferred with an external safety lock. Handguns manufactured after December 31, 2002 may only be sold or transferred if they have an internal mechanical safety device.
Firearms advocates challenged the 2013 law. The District Court ruled that the law was constitutional based on intermediate scrutiny. On February 1, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit overruled the reasoning used to uphold the law in a 2-to-1 vote. The appellate court said that the ban on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines should be subject to strict scrutiny, not intermediate scrutiny, because they "are in common use by law-abiding citizens." The court acknowledged that the state has a right to limit the use of or ban citizen possession, sale, or transfer of "dangerous and unusual" weapons (such as hand grenades), but the weapons and ammunition barred by the 2013 law did not fall under that provision. The appellate court remanded the case to a federal district court, leaving the ban temporarily in place pending a review by the district court. The state said it would appeal the decision. On March 4, 2016, Fourth Circuit agreed to rehear the case en banc and oral arguments took place on May 11, 2016. The full court ruled that such assault weapons and magazines holding more than 10 bullets are not protected by the Second Amendment; the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.
Firearms are prohibited from certain places, including schools and demonstrations.
Open and Concealed Carry
Carrying a handgun, whether openly or concealed, is prohibited unless one has a permit to carry a handgun or is on their own property or their own place of business. The Maryland State Police may issue a permit to carry a handgun at their discretion and based on an investigation. In practice, very few applicants are granted carry permits, and approval typically requires the applicant to provide proof of a clear and imminent threat on his or her life. For example, police reports submitted by an applicant documenting a recent assault, attempted kidnapping, carjacking, or home invasion, particularly when the assailant remains at-large, have generally been accepted as sufficient "good reason" for issuance of a carry permit. The State Police may issue a Handgun Carry Permit that is either unrestricted or has varying degrees of restrictions, depending on the circumstances specified in the permit application.  If the State Police deny the permit application or issue a restricted permit, the applicant may appeal the denial or permit restrictions to the Handgun Permit Review Board. The review board, staffed by gubernatorial appointees, has the discretion to grant or deny an appeal on a case-by-case basis. Permits are not automatically renewed, and the permit-holder must justify the continued need for the permit when applying for renewal. Out of a total population of 6 million, there were 14,298 active carry permits as of April 2014. No permit is required to openly carry a rifle or shotgun in Maryland.
On August 5, 2019, Maryland State Police issued a new S.O.P. SOP 29-19-004 which rescinded the previous SOP 29-15-007. The new S.O.P. removes all restrictions on business owner's permits only. Any business owner who held a permit prior to the new S.O.P. must submit a request for a modification of their permit to have the restrictions removed. Until their new permit is received, their current restrictions are still in force.
On March 5, 2012, a federal judge ruled in Woollard v Sheridan that Maryland's "may issue" concealed carry law is unconstitutional, writing, "A citizen may not be required to offer a 'good and substantial reason' why he should be permitted to exercise his rights." The Maryland Attorney General's office appealed the ruling. On March 21, 2013, a three judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S. Federal) unanimously overturned the District Court ruling, holding that the "good & substantial cause" requirements imposed by Maryland law are permissible without violating the 2nd Amendment.
Maryland police have been accused of targeting drivers from other states including Florida because they hold concealed-carry permits.
- Senate Bill 281: Firearm Safety Act of 2013, Maryland Legislature 2013 Regular Session. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Second Amendment sanctuary?". sunnysidesun.com. Retrieved 2019-03-09.
- "Ban On 'Bump Stocks' Among New Gun Regulations In Maryland | WAMU". WAMU. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "State Gun Laws: Maryland", National Rifle Association – Institute for Legislative Action. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "Maryland State Law Summary", Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms, p.214" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms, p.215" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms, p.216" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives – State Laws and Published Ordinances – Firearms, p.218" (PDF). Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Maryland Regulated Firearm Training On-Line". Mdgunsafety.com. January 1, 2002. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
- "Public Safety, §5–406 (a) (2)", Code of Public General Laws (Statutes) of Maryland.
- Somers, Meredith (May 16, 2013). "O'Malley signs Maryland gun-control measure into law", Washington Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
- "Firearm Safety Act of 2013". General Assembly of Maryland. 2013.
- "Handgun Roster Board Meeting". Maryland State Police. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013.
- "Designated Firearms Collector". Maryland State Police. Archived from the original on November 3, 2013. "A Designated Firearms Collector is a status granted and approved by the Maryland State Police upon submission of an application. It is granted to an individual who devotes time and attention to acquiring certain types of regulated firearms for the enhancement of the collector's personal collection, or possesses a Federal Collector's License (Curio and Relics). A Designated Firearms Collector is not authorized to act as a firearms dealer."
- Dresser, Michael (February 4, 2016). "Appeals court deals blow to Maryland gun control law". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- "Kolbe v. Hogan: 4th Circuit requires strict scrutiny for Maryland ban on magazines and semiautomatics". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- "Federal Court of Appeals to Review Important Gun Rights Decision". NRA-ILA. Retrieved April 28, 2016.
- Testimony by John Parker Sweeney" (mp3). United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
- "Assault Weapons Not Protected by Second Amendment, Federal Appeals Court Rules". Associated Press. NBC News. February 22, 2017.
- "U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Assault Rifle, Open-Carry Appeals". Bloomberg.com. November 27, 2017. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
- Maryland Senate votes to abolish the state's Handgun Permit Review Board; measure moves to House, March 26, 2019
- [Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the United States, Crime Prevention Research Center, July 9, 2014]
- "SOP 29-19-004" (PDF). Maryland State Police Licensing. Licensing Division Personnel. Retrieved 5 August 2019.
- Associated Press (March 5, 2012). "Federal Judge Finds Right to Bear Arms Not Limited to Home, Md. Handgun Law Unconstitutional", The Washington Post. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (March 21, 2013). "Published Opinion - Raymond Woollard, et al. v. Denis Gallagher, et al.", 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- Riddell, Kelly (December 30, 2014). "Gun Owners Fear Maryland Cops Target Them for Traffic Stops", Washington Times. Retrieved January 1, 2015.