Maryland Gun Laws

Gun Laws in Maryland

In Maryland, citizens have the right to lawfully carry concealed weapons. The state police are responsible for issuing permits to those who qualify, and a background check and firearms registration are required in order to purchase a handgun from an individual. Private sellers must transfer handguns and assault weapons to licensed dealers or designated law enforcement agencies, who then perform a background check. In addition, there is a roster of approved handguns that can be sold in the state.

Open carry is allowed only for holders of Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permits (WCHP). Applicants must be at least 21 years old and must show good cause to carry a handgun. WCHPs require 16 hours of certified firearms training, including live-fire instruction, and 8 hours of training for each renewal. Residents and non-residents may apply for a permit, but certain areas such as rest stops and state parks are off-limits.

Under Maryland’s Castle Doctrine, deadly force is lawful when an imminent threat of serious bodily harm or death exists, so long as the individual does not provoke the aggressor or use excessive force greater than what is necessary under the circumstances. Furthermore, there is no duty to retreat from one’s own residence.

Maryland is surrounded by Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to the south and west by Pennsylvania to the north, and Delaware to the east. Maryland is a small state, comparable in size to Hawaii, the next smallest state. However, Maryland has the 19th largest population in the United States with over 6,000,000 residents. Open carry is legal in Maryland with a valid license to carry. The Firearm Safety Act 2013 was enacted to ban 45 different semi-automatic handguns and rifles from sale and ownership within the state.

Maryland Gun Law Purchase Waiting Period

Maryland imposes a seven (7) day waiting period before purchasing any firearm other than a rifle or shotgun.

In order to own or purchase a handgun or assault weapon in Maryland, you first must be over 21 years old. You can not be a convicted felon or what Maryland law describes as a “habitual drunk.” If you have been confined to a mental facility for over 30 days you will be restricted from buying a handgun or assault weapon. Additionally, if you have been named in any type of restraining order against you, you’ll be disqualified from buying the firearm.

After filling out an application with a licensed dealer, the potential gun owner must wait for seven days while the Maryland State Police performs a background check to ascertain if the information in the application is factual. Even if the application is approved early, you still have to wait for seven days. If the application is denied, you have thirty days to appeal. You can only purchase a single weapon every thirty days.

Transporting or Carrying Firearms in Maryland

If you are carrying a rifle or shotgun in your vehicle they must be unloaded. It is against the law to carry a handgun without a permit unless you can prove that you are transporting the gun from your residence to a place of business for sale or repair or to a shooting range. Even under those circumstances the handgun still needs to be unloaded and kept in either a carrying case or holster. You can’t have it tucked in the glove box or on the seat next to you.

Maryland Permit to Carry Gun Laws

Obtaining a Wear and Carry Permit in Maryland is no small feat. The state has implemented a blanket ban on the carrying and transport of handguns within its borders, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is for individuals who have obtained a valid Permit to Wear and Carry from the Maryland State Police Licensing Division (MSPLD). This permit is required for anyone wishing to lawfully carry a handgun concealed or openly in public for self-defense.

Maryland Wear and Carry Permits
Maryland Wear and Carry Permits – Maryland Shall Issue®, Inc.

In order to be eligible to receive a permit, applicants must meet certain requirements as outlined in Maryland Public Safety Articles §§ 5-301-5-314. The permitting procedure can take anywhere between 60 to 90 days and follows Standard Operating Procedures laid out by MSPLD. Once issued, the initial permit will remain valid for two years or until the applicant’s birth month, while renewal permits are valid for three years. Clearly, the acquisition of a Wear and Carry Permit requires dedication and attention to detail.

The Maryland State Police Licensing Division (MSPLD) offers permits to applicants who are responsible, law-abiding citizens and meet the state’s requirements. This includes individuals 21 years of age or older who are not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing firearms, with certain exceptions. Furthermore, a valid reason for applying for an unrestricted permit is the right to carry a handgun for self-defense.

Applicants must submit their completed applications through the MSPLD’s online portal, which requires a valid email address. In addition to the application, users must also supply proof of training or exemption, fingerprints, a passport-style photo, and a non-refundable $75 fee.
Out-of-state residents may also apply for permits, however, they must be trained by an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and LiveScan fingerprinted in Maryland to meet the same criteria as residents of the state.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

It is illegal to carry any loaded firearm in any vehicle in Maryland, regardless of whether You have a permit. Maryland generally bans the carrying of firearms without a permit. Someone without a permit may only transport a handgun if it is unloaded and secured in an enclosed case or holster, and may only transport the handgun to or from: the place of purchase or repair, Your home or business, a shooting range, shooting event, or hunting activity.

If you have obtained a license for your firearm, be sure to show this document to the police officer upon contact. Doing so will prove that you are permitted to carry the weapon and explain why you had a weapon in your possession at the time of the stop. Moreover, let the officer know if you were on your way to or from a shooting range, gun collecting event, or other appropriate venue related to guns.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. Maryland has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry it in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then You are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

Self-defense Laws

Maryland does not have a Castle Doctrine or SYG law, however, Maryland courts have consistently recognized a right of self-defense similar to a castle doctrine law. Because there is no statute to explain when the use of deadly force is appropriate, there is uncertainty over the details of when deadly force may be used, and Maryland only allows the use of deadly force in narrow circumstances. There is no duty to retreat when in Your home. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death or SBI.

Open Carry

There is no statute in Maryland law that prohibits a Maryland license holder from carrying a handgun openly. Places listed in the “Criminal Provisions” above apply to those who open carry. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

Assault Weapons Ban

It is illegal to possess an assault weapon unless it was possessed before October 1, 2013, or the individual received a certificate of possession from the Maryland State Police prior to October 1, 2013. Assault weapons may not be sold or transferred to any person other than a licensed gun dealer or any individual who is going to relinquish it to the police.

Under Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act, 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, or flash suppressor) unless owned before October 1, 2013, or received through inheritance from a lawful possessor and not otherwise forbidden to possess.

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

Maryland bans the intrastate manufacture, sale, and transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Note that possession of high-capacity magazines is legal, and Maryland residents can possess high-capacity magazines they lawfully owned before 10/1/13. Maryland residents can also purchase or import high-capacity magazines from out of state. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner unless done so outside the state of Maryland.

Registration of Firearms in Maryland

Every firearm that is purchased in Maryland will need to be registered with the state police. This registration includes the serial number of the weapon. The dealer also needs to provide a single shell casing fired from the gun submitted in a sealed envelope to the police. This will then be entered into the state ballistics database. It is against the law to sell or own any firearm without a serial number or identification mark. There is a $75 fee for the permit to carry and a $10 fee for the standard application.

Universal Background Checks

Maryland requires that all sales and transfers of handguns or assault weapons, even between private parties, go through an FFL and must conduct a background check. Background checks are not required for private sales of long guns.

Reciprocal Carry

Maryland does not have a statutory reciprocity provision and does not recognize permits issued in any other state.

Criminal Provisions

A Maryland-issued license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances:

  • On any kind of public school property
  • At demonstrations in a public place or in a vehicle that is within 1,000 feet of a demonstration in a public place
  • State parks
  • State/national forests
  • In legislative buildings
  • In/on State public buildings and grounds
  • State Highway Rest Areas

FAQs on Maryland Gun Laws

Can I own a gun without a license in Maryland?

No. All firearms owners in Maryland are required to have a license in order to legally possess a firearm. The license is obtained by completing the application process with the Maryland State Police.

Can you carry a gun in Maryland without a permit?

No. In Maryland, it is illegal to carry a handgun either openly or concealed without a valid permit. All individuals must obtain a Handgun Qualification License prior to carrying or transporting a loaded handgun outside of their home or place of business.

Why are Maryland gun laws so strict?

In an effort to better protect its citizens, Maryland has several laws in place designed to limit access to firearms and reduce gun violence. These laws include requiring a license to acquire or possess a firearm, limiting the number of handguns purchased and carried at any given time, and prohibiting certain types of dangerous weapons like assault rifles.

Can I carry a gun in Maryland now?

Yes, as long as the individual holds a valid Handgun Qualification License. Additionally, it is important to note that individuals may be prohibited from carrying or transporting firearms under various conditions, such as when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or when they are mentally unstable or otherwise unable to safely operate a firearm.

Are AR-15s illegal in Maryland?

Yes, under the Firearm Safety Act of 2013, possession of assault rifles like AR-15s is prohibited for most individuals in Maryland. Exemptions may apply, including for law enforcement officers and some military personnel.

Can you defend your home with a gun in Maryland?

Yes, provided that all applicable state laws are followed. While there are laws in place that allow individuals to defend themselves in cases of self-defense, it is always important to remember to use caution when using deadly force.

Can you protect your home with a gun in Maryland?

Yes, provided that all applicable state laws are followed. However, it is important to take security measures outside of firearms such as adding security systems and locks in order to deter potential burglars or intruders.

Is Maryland a stand-your-ground state?

No, Maryland is not considered a “stand your ground” state. Maryland’s self-defense laws follow the Castle Doctrine, which stipulates that deadly force can only be used within one’s home if it is immediately necessary to protect oneself from death or injury.

How many rounds can you carry in MD?

There are no specific restrictions on the total amount of ammunition that an individual can carry in Maryland. Instead, individuals must abide by any laws related to buying, possessing, and transporting firearms and ammunition.

What guns don’t require a license in Maryland?

Certain antique firearms do not require a license, and individuals may possess and transport them without any special permits. Additionally, rifles and shotguns do not require licenses unless they are covered by specific municipal laws or ordinances. Any other firearms must have an appropriate license before being acquired or possessed.

Can you ride with gun in car in Maryland?

Yes, provided that the individual has the proper paperwork and permission (including a valid handgun qualification license). Firearms must be unloaded and securely stored while traveling, with ammunition stored separately from the firearm itself. Additionally, if the vehicle has occupants under the age of 18, then the firearm must be transported in a locked container that is inaccessible to those minors.

Is Maryland a no-carry state?

No, Maryland is not considered a “no carry” state. Individuals with valid permits may carry handguns concealed or openly with certain restrictions. However, some areas such as schools and government buildings do prohibit the presence of firearms entirely. It is always important to review local laws before carrying a firearm in any area.

Can you conceal carry in Walmart in Maryland?

Concealing and carrying firearms in Walmart stores is prohibited in Maryland. This includes any other private property where signs are posted informing visitors that firearms are not permitted on site. Violation of this rule may result in criminal penalties.

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