What Every Gun Owner Should Know About Maryland Gun Laws

Understanding gun laws Maryland can help you stay on the right side of the law. If you’re facing a gun charge, don’t hesitate to reach out to our criminal defense attorneys in MD.

Understanding Maryland’s Gun Laws

The State of Maryland has some of the strictest firearm laws in the United States. Because of this, breaking any of Maryland’s gun laws is a serious criminal offense that can overthrow your life in an instant.

If you’re a gun owner in Maryland, you have a responsibility to stay up-to-date on the state’s laws surrounding firearm ownership to prevent any run-ins with the law. However, even the most careful gun owners can make mistakes.


Have You Been Charged with Violating Gun Laws in Maryland?

Criminal defense attorney Paolo Gnocchi of Scrofano Law has extensive experience protecting the rights of Maryland gun owners.  As an expert in the area, he is prepared to fight your carry permits charges and restore your good name. Read on to learn more about Maryland’s gun laws, or contact our office for personalized legal guidance.

Maryland Rifle Laws

To understand Maryland’s gun laws, you should first understand how the state classifies and regulates its legal firearms. In Maryland, the purchase and possession of handguns are highly regulated, while long guns such as rifles and shotguns that are not classified as “assault” weapons have fewer restrictions.

To buy a long gun, including a rifle, only a few basic requirements must be satisfied. These include:

  • Be 18 years of age or older

  • Show your state ID

  • Have a background check performed by a licensed firearm dealer

To buy a handgun in Maryland, you are required to meet several state and federal guidelines. These include:

  • Be 21 years of age or older

  • Show your state ID

  • Have a background check performed by a licensed firearm dealer

  • Have a handgun qualification license (HQL)

  • Complete a certified firearm safety training course (only qualified handgun instructors are exempt)

Having your fingerprints taken, as well as submitting them to Maryland State Police is also one of the required steps. You will also be subject to a 7-day waiting period if you’d like to buy a handgun. However, if it is been more than 90 days, then please contact the Handgun Permit Unit for further instructions. In addition, upon purchase of your handgun, you must make sure it is registered with the Maryland State Police. Otherwise, you will be in trouble with the law enforcement officers in state highway rest areas, unless properly secured within vehicle.

Possession of an unregistered firearm is illegal and can bring up to 5 years in prison, so following these regulations and contacting a criminal defense attorney if you face these charges is essential.

Maryland Firearms Laws on Who Can Possess a Firearm

As mentioned above, you will have to undergo a background check prior to purchasing a firearm in Maryland. While firearm possession is a constitutional right for most people in Maryland, gun laws do limit the purchase and possession of a firearm for certain categories of people in an effort to promote public safety.

The following categories of individuals are prohibited from owning and possessing any type of firearm in Maryland:

  • Fugitives from justice

  • Convicted felons

  • Those convicted of a crime of violence

  • Habitual drunkards

  • Addicts/habitual users of narcotics

  • Those who have spent more than 30 consecutive days in a mental institution for treatment

If you fall into any of the above categories and are concerned about your right to arm yourself, please reach out to our office for legal advice and advocacy.


Prohibited Gun Laws in Maryland

In addition to regulating who can purchase a firearm, Maryland’s gun laws also prohibit the purchase and possession of certain types of firearms.

In the state of Maryland, the possession, sale, transfer, or manufacture of the following types of firearms is illegal under most circumstances:

  • Assault weapons, including rifles and pistols

  • Folding pistol grip shotguns

  • Short-barreled rifles or shotguns

This list is not all-inclusive. However, you may want to consult a criminal law expert before purchasing or acquiring a weapon outside of the context of a regulated firearm dealer. Since possessing an illegal firearm such as an assault weapon can bring a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, double-checking the legality of your desired weapon is more than worth it.

Maryland Carry Laws

Additional restrictions come into play when you want to carry your weapon on public property. Innocent mistakes can happen, however, so please contact a gun lawyer if you are facing charges for illegal carry in the State of Maryland.

In Maryland, it is typically against the law to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, whether concealed or open, on your person or in your vehicle while in a public space. That means you need a permit to carry a handgun. A Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permit (WCHP) is required in order to legally carry a firearm. This license serves as both a concealed carry permit and an open carry permit.

Applicants for a permit to carry a handgun must be at least 21 years old (18 for employment purposes). Besides, they must be able to show a convincing reason to get a permit to carry a handgun in Maryland. Long guns are not subject to the same carry restrictions, but law enforcement may approach you if you choose to open carry, you must do so at your own risk.

Handgun permit holders are still limited in where they can carry a handgun in Maryland. State law prohibits the carry of a firearm in numerous types of spaces, including:

  • On any property belonging to a public school

  • Within 1000 feet of a demonstration

  • On an aircraft

  • In legislative buildings

  • Around or inside any state-owned public buildings or grounds

  • In a lodging establishment

  • On dredge boats (with the exception of a 10-gauge shotgun)

  • In Chesapeake Forest Lands

  • In any state forests or state parks

  • At adult rehabilitation centers

  • At child care centers

  • Any location where firearms are federally prohibited

If you illegally carry a handgun in Maryland, you’ll be committing a misdemeanor. The penalties for first offenders include a fine of $250 to $2,500 and up to 3 years in jail, while subsequent convictions can bring up to 10 years in prison. These penalties also apply to the illegal transport of a firearm. Bringing a firearm onto any type of prohibited property can bring even greater penalties. Possessing a weapon in a school zone or in a community adult rehabilitation centers, for example, is punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

MD Gun Laws on Transport

Maryland has some of the nation’s toughest gun transportation laws, especially when it comes to handguns. When you need to take your guns on the road, you’ll need to follow particular guidelines on how to carry them.

Handguns need to be unloaded and kept in a carrying case or a holster with a flap with the ammunition bag stored separately. Neither the firearm nor any ammunition readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment. Your gun should be kept in the trunk or as far away from the driver’s seat as possible. Long guns can be kept in the vehicle without a carrying case as long as they are unloaded.

If you do not have a permit to carry a handgun in Maryland, transporting a gun in Maryland is only permitted when you are:

  • Moving your firearm between your home and a service center or gun shop

  • Moving your firearm between your homes or businesses

  • Taking part in, or traveling to or from a range, a shooting event, hunting, trapping, or a dog obedience training class

  • Transporting the firearm as part of your gun collection from one location to another for an exhibition

Aside from these limited circumstances, you will generally need to keep your weapon in the house and out of sight. Some transportation laws can be subjective, though, so a Silver Spring criminal lawyer may be able to help you reduce your charges if you’re facing gun transportation charges.

When to Contact a Maryland Gun Law Attorney

If you have been charged with possession of an unlicensed gun, carrying a handgun without a permit, or any other gun-related charge in Maryland, time is of the essence. You face not only a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines, but also further constraints on your right to bear arms and a criminal record that can follow you for the rest of your life. 

To protect your civil liberties and to construct a tactical defense against your charges, you must consult a Maryland gun defense lawyer as soon as possible. Our team of criminal defense attorneys is ready to assess your case and begin fighting for your freedom. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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