This is a topic that has certainly been in the news recently, especially after last year’s Supreme Court opinion. If you are a gun owner, and especially if you want to carry a concealed firearm, you better know the laws on this subject.
Maryland is not exactly a gun friendly state. We have a lot of laws affecting gun ownership. I believe Maryland authorities are looking for people to make an example out of. You do not want to be that guy.
So read on to find out what you have to do to stay out of trouble as a Maryland gun owner.
This post will give an overview of the most important gun laws in Maryland. It cannot possibly be comprehensive. Maryland actually has a lot of laws about guns. It is one of the most restrictive states in the nation regarding gun laws. Therefore, use this post for informational purposes. It will cover 95% of your Maryland gun law related questions.
Storage of Firearms
In my opinion, this is one of the most important to know and live by – you cannot store or leave a loaded firearm where an unsupervised child under 16 may gain access to it. “Supervised” means by a person at least 21 years old. That simply means – lock up your guns.
(Personal rant 1: Part of being a responsible gun owner is paying enough money for proper storage so it can’t be stolen by some bad guy who will use it for bad purposes, or accessed by some kid. Don’t cheap out on this. There are a ton of excellent options out there. Google it to find reviews and recommendations.)
Maryland does ban a specific list of assault weapons. Assault weapons are hard to define from a legal perspective, so Maryland keeps a specific list of weapons that are banned. If a specific weapon is not on that list, it is legal. In Maryland you can legally own a lot of guns that the average person would consider an “assault rifle.”
The list of assault long guns is found in the state code at section 5-101 of the Public Safety article. A list of assault pistols is found at section 4-101 of the Criminal Law article. You can look up the statutes here, or you can see a list kept by the Maryland State Police here.
Detachable Magazines – 10 round limit
They also play into handgun laws as any handgun sold in Maryland is limited to a 10 round magazine. There are plenty of guns that can hold more, but when you buy such a gun in Maryland you will get a 10 round magazine.
However, this doesn’t mean it is illegal to own a higher capacity magazine. They are perfectly legal to own. You just cannot buy it in Maryland, and any gun you buy in Maryland will come with a magazine holding 10 rounds or less. But you can buy it somewhere else and own it in Maryland.
Maryland bans machine guns, but so do the federal laws. Machine guns are generally defined as guns that allow continuous fire with one trigger pull. They are illegal in any state without very special licenses. You have to be a federal firearms dealer or a licensed collector. The licenses for that cost thousands of dollars.
Maryland does have some specific enhanced sentences for anyone using a machine gun in a crime of violence or for aggressive purposes.
Rifles & Shotguns
Maryland does not ban or regulate rifles or shotguns as long as they are not classified as assault weapons. You do not need a permit to purchase a shotgun or most “normal” rifles.
By “normal” I am talking about most rifles the average person would go hunting with. As I said, it is very hard to properly define things like “assault weapons.” So you can get way down in the weeds on this topic if you want. But generally, you can legally own any “normal” hunting type rifle or shotgun.You will still be limited to 10 round magazines in those rifles.
So you cannot own a sawed off shotgun (sorry Al Capone) or blunderbuss (sorry Jack Sparrow, er, I mean Captain Jack Sparrow).
Handguns are not banned in Maryland, but they are heavily regulated. You must have a license to buy one. You must take a safety test to get the license. And your guns will be registered with the state at the time of purchase.
If you want to buy a handgun in Maryland, you have to get a Handgun Qualification License (HQL). You will have to find and register for an approved class. The person giving that class will take you step by step through the (very confusing) set of hoops you have to jump through. We won’t list them all here. You will pay a lot of fees too. The system does not make any logical sense. It is confusing and repetitive. Bring your patience and your wallet with you if you want to get your Maryland HQL. It will be a chore.
You will have to answer some questions when you buy your gun (including some that are amusing like “are you currently a fugitive from justice?” and “are you a habitual drunkard?”), wait 7 days to pick up your handgun, and you are limited to one handgun purchase every 30 days (unless you are a designated firearms collector, which is not a hard designation to get).
Transporting a gun (as opposed to carrying it concealed with a permit – see below) is generally illegal in Maryland. Of course there are several exceptions which we will list below. But remember that regardless of the exception, you must have it unloaded, keep it in a case, and keep the ammo as separate as reasonably possible. That is hard to define, but just remember to keep the gun and ammo separate and in different areas as much as possible.
Exceptions to the prohibition on transporting firearms include:
- Traveling between a residence or business you own or lease.
- Traveling to and from target practice, a sport shooting event, hunting, trapping, or dog obedience training.
- A gun collector transporting his/her collection.
Other than that, there are a bunch of other specific laws on handguns in Maryland. They are too voluminous and we cannot possibly list them all here.
As most of you probably know, the Supreme Court last year struck down state laws that prohibit most adults from carrying a concealed firearm. Maryland was one of those states. We had a very similar law to the one in New York that was found unconstitutional.
Therefore, you are now able to carry a concealed firearm in Maryland – subject to many, many, many restrictions. If you want to get super detailed on this topic, see this resource. If you want to know all the laws about handguns in Maryland in a one hour, very watchable video, watch this video. It is very detailed. This is the guy I took my class with, and I can vouch for the fact he knows his stuff, stays on top of it, and explains it very well.
To get your permit to carry concealed, you will have to take another class and jump through another set of hoops, and any person giving that class will lead you through all the specific things you need to do. We will leave that to your instructor. Suffice it to say it is similar to the HQL. Bring your patience and your wallet if you want to get a concealed carry permit in Maryland.
Handguns must be concealed. You cannot open carry in Maryland anymore. Believe it or not, that was legal before now. If you momentarily and inadvertently display it, you don’t violate the law.
(Personal rant 2: Please don’t test this and rile people up, which just leads to more regulations. Spend some money on a good concealable holster. Keep it hidden. Soccer moms don’t want to see your super cool Glock with the laser sights. They will complain to your local politicians, who will just make more laws you don’t like. Please be cool and keep your handgun well concealed.)
(Personal rant 3: Also, don’t do things like this guy did – walking around with a rifle at a school bus stop. Really?! You don’t live in Wyoming or Texas. You live in very suburbanized Maryland. Don’t rile people up asserting yourself. It won’t end well.)
- Any private property (residence or business) that does not publicly post notice that it is OK to concealed carry. This means the default status for any private property is that it is not legal to carry on that property.
- Health care facilities
- Daycare centers
- Youth camps
- Rehab centers
- Government buildings or government land
- Within 1000 feet of a demonstration
- Polling places
- Electric plants, electric storage facilities, gas plants, and nuclear power plants (sorry Homer).
- Locations selling alcohol or cannabils for on site consumption. This means you cannot carry in liquor stores, bars & restaurants – even if you are not personally consuming alcohol.
- Stadiums or anywhere hosting a sporting activity
- A live theater performance
- A ticketed music event (where you had to buy a ticket to get in)
- Amusement parks, fairs & carnivals
- Video lottery facilities
That is a general list. If you want to get super detailed, watch Ryan’s video above. There is a reason it is 1 hour long. There is a lot to cover!
(Personal rant 4: Be a responsible gun owner. Practice safety. Practice so you can shoot straight, and draw without dropping your gun. You don’t want to screw up because you rushed things in a high stress situation. Practice often and build muscle memory. There are no shortage of Youtube videos out there teaching you how to do it right and do it safely, and teaching you drills you can do dry firing at home to build that muscle memory.
Invest the time to make sure you are a responsible gun owner and concealed carry permit holder. Like I said earlier, Maryland is looking for people to make an example out of. Don’t be that guy! If you read this and have no idea where to start, email me and I will share some links with you. I have already done the research for myself and I am happy to share.)
Maryland has a lot of laws about guns. We have tried to summarize the biggest. We hope you found this listing informative. Feel free to share it with others who may have similar questions because of the newsworthiness of this topic right now.
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