Ammunition Regulation in Maryland

Prohibited Persons

Under Maryland law, a person may not possess ammunition if that person is prohibited from possessing a regulated firearm under Maryland’s Public Safety laws.1 “Ammunition” for these purposes means a cartridge, shell, or any other device containing explosive or incendiary material designed and intended for use in a firearm.2 See the Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Maryland section for details on circumstances that prohibit a person from possessing a regulated firearm.

Loading Ammunition

Maryland requires any person engaged in the business of “loading or reloading small arms ammunition” to obtain a license.3 A license is also required for possession or storage of quantities over five pounds of: 1) “smokeless powder for the loading or reloading of small arms ammunition;” or 2) “black powder for the loading or reloading of small arms ammunition.”4 Exceptions are included for persons who handle smaller quantities of smokeless or black powder for personal use so long as the powder is stored in the original shipping containers.5 Maryland does not regulate the sale or possession of other kinds of unreasonably dangerous ammunition, although the federal prohibition on certain kinds of armor-piercing ammunition applies.

In addition, no person may possess or store explosives for use in firearms in “multifamily dwellings, apartments, dormitories, hotels, schools, other public buildings, or buildings or structures open for public use.”6

Minimum Age to Purchase/Possess Ammunition

In Maryland, no person may sell, rent or transfer ammunition solely designed for a handgun or assault weapon to a person under age 21.7 No person may sell ammunition for any firearm to a person under age 18.8

Maryland does not:

  • Require a license to sell regular ammunition;
  • Ensure that sellers of ammunition maintain records of the purchasers; or
  • Require a license to purchase or possess regular ammunition.

See our Ammunition Regulation policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133.1(b). See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(b), (c) for the state’s prohibited categories. ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133.1(a). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 11-105(b)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 11-105(d)(1). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 11-105(d)(1). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 11-105(d)(2). The State Fire Marshal may issue a permit for temporary possession of explosives for use in firearms in buildings or structures open for public use. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 11-105(d)(3). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(d)(1)(i).  Though Maryland prohibits sales and transfers of ammunition solely designed for a handgun or assault weapon to persons under 21, in 2011 the state repealed its law prohibiting persons under age 21 from possessing ammunition such ammunition. See 2011 Md. H.B 519, amending Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(d). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(d)(1)(ii)(2); Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 1-101(g). ⤴︎

Assault Weapons in Maryland

Maryland now prohibits the possession, sale, offering of sale, transfer, purchase, receipt, or transportation into the state of an assault weapon, which includes assault pistols and assault long guns.1

There are various exceptions under the prohibitions, including returning an assault weapon to a customer in another state that was transferred to a licensed firearms dealer under the terms of a warrant or for repair, or for the possession of an inherited assault weapon as long as the person inheriting the assault weapon is not otherwise disqualified from possessing a regulated firearm.2  Additionally, a person who lawfully possessed an assault pistol before June 1, 1994 may continue to transport and possess the weapon if it was registered with the Maryland State Police before August 1, 1994.3

Assault weapons qualify as state-defined “regulated firearms,”4 and transfers of such guns, if allowed at all, are subject to enhanced background checks, firearms dealer regulations, private sales requirements and reporting of lost or stolen firearms regulations. In addition, purchasers:

Grandfathering

A licensed firearms dealer may continue to possess, sell, offer for sale, or transfer an assault long gun or a copycat weapon that the licensed firearms dealer lawfully possessed on or before October 1, 2013.5

A person who lawfully possesses or has a purchase order for, or completed an application to purchase an assault long gun or a copycat weapon before October 1, 2013, may:

  • Possess and transport the assault long gun or copycat weapon; or
  • While carrying a court order requiring the surrender of the assault long gun or copycat weapon, transport the weapon directly to a local law enforcement unit if the person has notified the unit that the person is transporting the assault long gun or copycat weapon in accordance with a court order and the weapon is unloaded.6

A person may transport an assault weapon to or from:

  • An “ISO 17025 accredited, National Institute of Justice-approved ballistics testing laboratory;” or
  • A facility or entity that manufacturers or provides research and development testing, analysis, or engineering for personal protective equipment or vehicle protection systems.7

See our Assault Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law §§ 4-301(d), 4-303(a). Maryland law defines “assault long guns” to include a list of 45 specified firearms or their copies, including certain variations of those models. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r)(2).  Maryland also defines “assault pistols” to include 15 specified firearms or their copies, including certain variations of those models. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-301(c).

    Under Maryland law, the definition of assault weapon also includes a “copycat weapon” which is defined as:

    • A semiautomatic centerfire rifle that can accept a detachable magazine and has any two of the following: 1) A folding stock; 2) A grenade or flare launcher; or 3) A flash suppressor;
    • A semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds;
    • A semiautomatic centerfire rifle that has an overall length of less than 29 inches;
    • A semiautomatic pistol with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds;
    • A semiautomatic shotgun that has a folding stock; or
    • A shotgun with a revolving cylinder. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-301(e)(1).

    Under this law, “detachable magazine” means an ammunition feeding device that can be removed readily from a firearm without requiring disassembly of the firearm action or without the use of a tool, including a bullet or cartridge. Md. Code Ann. Crim. Law § 4-301(f). “Flash suppressor” means a device that functions, or is intended to function, to perceptibly reduce or redirect muzzle flash from the shooter’s field of vision. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-301(g). ⤴︎

  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-302(3)(iii), (5). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-303(b)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-303(b)(2). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-303(b)(3). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-303(b)(4). ⤴︎

Background Checks in Maryland

Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

The Secretary of the Maryland State Police (“Secretary”) serves as a partial state point of contact for implementation of the Brady Act. Prospective purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 must complete the state’s application form.2 The application must be processed through the Secretary, who must verify the contents of the application.3 Among other things, the Secretary must disapprove a transfer if the Secretary receives written notification from the applicant’s licensed attending physician that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and is a danger to himself or herself or to another.4 If the Secretary disapproves an application, the Secretary must notify the seller or transferor within seven days of the application, in accordance with the Maryland waiting period.5

A seller of a regulated firearm who is not licensed as a dealer in such firearms must complete a transaction through either a regulated firearms dealer or a designated law enforcement agency.6 See the Maryland Private Sales section for further information.

A dealer must contact the FBI for the federally required NICS checks for long gun (rifle and shotgun) transfers.7

See the Maryland Prohibited Purchasers Generally section for the classes of persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under state law.

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-120, 5-123, 5-124. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. For more information about the procedure for the background check, see Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.01 – Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.12. ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-124(a)(2). ⤴︎
  7. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎

Child Access Prevention in Maryland

Maryland law provides that a person “may not store or leave a loaded firearm in a location where the person knew or should have known that an unsupervised child would gain access to the firearm.”1 This section does not apply if:

  • The child’s access is supervised by an individual age 18 or older;
  • The child’s access was obtained as a result of unlawful entry;
  • The firearm is in the possession or control of a law enforcement officer while the officer is engaged in official duties; or
  • The child has a certificate of firearm and hunter safety.2

State administrative regulations may impose storage requirements in certain locations.

For other measures related to child access prevention, see the Maryland Locking Devices section.

See our Child Access Prevention policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-104(c). “Child” is defined as a person under age 16, per Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-104(a)(3). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-104(b). ⤴︎

Concealed Weapons Permitting in Maryland

Maryland generally prohibits wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun, whether concealed or open, on or about the person without a permit.1 This prohibition does not apply on real estate that the person owns or leases, where the person resides, or within the confines of a business establishment that the person owns or leases.2

Though Maryland law states that the Secretary of the Maryland State Police (“Secretary”) shall issue a handgun carry permit within a reasonable time to any person who meets the minimum statutory requirements to receive a permit, those minimum requirements provide the Secretary with significant discretion to issue or deny such permits, so Maryland is properly considered a “may-issue” state.3  The Secretary is only required to issue a handgun carry permit when he or she finds, based on an investigation, that the applicant (1) has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person’s possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another, and (2) has good and substantial reason to wear, carry, or transport a handgun, such as a finding that the permit is necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.4

Any person wishing to obtain a handgun carry permit must also:5

  • Be an “adult;”
  • Have no felony convictions or misdemeanor convictions for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year has been imposed (unless such a person has been pardoned or successfully petitioned for relief from this prohibition);
  • If under age 30, have no adjudications of delinquency in a juvenile court for any act that would be a felony or “crime of violence” if committed by an adult or for any misdemeanor carrying a statutory penalty of two years or more, and have never been committed to any detention, training or correctional institution for more than one year as a juvenile;
  • Have no convictions involving the possession, use or distribution of controlled substances, and not be presently an alcoholic, addict or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance, (unless the habitual use of the controlled dangerous substance is under legitimate medical direction); and

Applicants for a first-time permit are required to submit a nonrefundable application fee not to exceed $75.6

A handgun carry permit will be revoked if the permittee no longer satisfies the qualifications to hold a permit or fails to carry the permit any time they carry, wear or transport a handgun.7 Anyone failing to return to the Secretary their revoked permit is criminally liable for a misdemeanor.8

Permittees are criminally liable for a misdemeanor if they wear, carry or transport a handgun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.9 Maryland also imposes a misdemeanor upon any person who carries, wears or transports a handgun, whether concealed or in open view, without a valid handgun permit. The Secretary of State Police retains the power to limit the geographic area, circumstances, or times in which the handgun permit is effective.10

Firearm Safety Training

To qualify for a handgun permit, applicants must also have successfully completed prior to application and each renewal, a firearms training course approved by the Secretary that includes:

(i)  1.  for an initial application, a minimum of 16 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor; or

2.  for a renewal application, 8 hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor;

(ii)  classroom instruction on:

1.  State firearm law;

2.  home firearm safety; and

3.  handgun mechanisms and operation; and

(iii)  a firearms qualification component that demonstrates the applicant’s proficiency and use of the firearm.11

An applicant is exempt from the training course requirement if he or she:

  •  is a law enforcement officer or a person who is retired in good standing from service with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or any local law enforcement agency in the State;
  •  is a member, retired member, or honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard;
  • is a qualified handgun instructor; or
  • has completed a firearms training course approved by the Secretary.12

Duration & Renewal

Maryland handgun carry permits generally expire “on the last day of the holder’s birth month following 2 years after the date the permit is issued.”13 Permits may be renewed for successive periods of three years each, upon application and payment of a renewal fee.14 Applicants must continue to possess the qualifications set forth in the handgun permitting rules of Maryland Code Ann., Public Safety § 5-306 to renew a permit.15

Disclosure or Use of Information

In Maryland, any information obtained by the Secretary from the Maryland Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services pursuant to the Secretary’s request for a criminal history records check on a handgun permit applicant:

  • Is confidential and may not be disseminated; and
  • Shall be used only for the licensing purpose authorized by Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-305.16

Reciprocity

No relevant statutes currently exist, indicating that Maryland does not recognize concealed weapons permits issued in other states.

See our Carrying Concealed Weapons policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

 

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(a), (b)(2), Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-303. ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(a), (b)(2). ⤴︎
  3. See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-306(a). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-306(a)(6). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-306(a), (c). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-304(b)(2)(i). Additional application and background check requirements, as well as permit suspension or disqualification information, are detailed under Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-304, 5-305 and 5-306. ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-310(a). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-313. For review procedures for persons denied a permit, see Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-311 and 5-312. ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-314. ⤴︎
  10. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-307(b). ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-306(a)(5). ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-306(b). ⤴︎
  13. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-309(a). ⤴︎
  14. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-309(b). ⤴︎
  15. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-309(b). ⤴︎
  16. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-305(e). ⤴︎

Dealer Regulations in Maryland

Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.

Any person in Maryland engaged in the business of selling, renting, or transferring state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 must have a Maryland firearms dealer’s license.2 A separate license is required for each place of business where regulated firearms are sold.3 Prospective dealers may only obtain such a license if they are not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal or state law, as outlined in the Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Maryland section.4

As of October 1, 2013, the Secretary of State Police (Secretary) must disapprove an application for a dealer’s license if the Secretary:

  • Determines that the applicant supplied false information or made a false statement; or
  • Receives a letter from the applicant’s licensed attending physician that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and is a danger to the applicant or to another.5

The Secretary also must disapprove such an application if the Secretary determines that the applicant intends that a person who is not eligible to be issued a dealer’s license or whose dealer’s license has been revoked or suspended:

  • Will participate in the management or operation of the business for which the license is sought; or
  • Holds a legal or equitable interest in the business for which the license is sought.6

If the Secretary disapproves of an application for a dealer’s licensee, the Secretary must notify the applicant in writing of the disapproval of the application and the reason the application was denied.7

The Secretary may suspend a dealer’s license if the licensee is not in compliance with the record keeping and reporting requirements of Maryland law, which are described in detail below. The Secretary may lift a suspension after the licensee provides evidence that the record keeping violation has been corrected.8

A regulated firearms dealer’s license is valid for one year, and may be renewed for a term of one year or will expire on the first June 30 following its effective date.9

A dealers is required to “display conspicuously” his or her license and any other licenses required by law at the dealer’s place of business.10

A licensed dealer must keep records of all receipts, sales, and other dispositions of firearms affected in connection with the licensed dealer’s business.11

The records must include:

  • The name and address of each person from whom the dealer acquires a firearm and to whom the dealer sells or otherwise disposes of a firearm;
  • A precise description, including make, model, caliber, and serial number of each firearm acquired, sold, or otherwise disposed of;
  • The date of each acquisition, sale, or other disposition; and
  • Any other information required by regulations adopted by the Secretary.12

The Secretary must adopt regulations specifying the time period and form in which records are to be kept.13

When a firearms business is discontinued and succeeded by a new dealer, the records required to be kept under the above provisions must reflect the business discontinuance and succession and must be delivered to the successor dealer.14

A dealer must respond within 48 hours after receipt of a request from the Secretary for information contained in the required records when the information is requested in connection with a bona fide criminal investigation.15

The Secretary must inspect the inventory and records of a licensed dealer at least once every two years, and may inspect the inventory and records at any time during the normal business hours of the licensed dealer’s business.16

For laws applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, please see the Private Sales in Maryland section.

See our Dealer Regulations policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-106(a). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-106(b). ⤴︎
  4. Note that the state prohibitions for firearms dealers are defined somewhat differently than those for firearms transferees, and there appear to be no dealer prohibitions specifically addressing persons who have previously been adjudicated delinquent. See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-107(b)(4). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(a)(1)-(3). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(a)(4). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(b). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-114(a)(2). ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-111(a). ⤴︎
  10. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-113(a). For information on the suspension or revocation of a regulated firearms dealer’s license, see Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-114, 5-115 and 5-116. For further information about dealer licenses, see Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.13 – 29.03.01.16. ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(1). ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(2), (3). ⤴︎
  13. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(2). ⤴︎
  14. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(c). ⤴︎
  15. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(d)(1). ⤴︎
  16. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(f). ⤴︎

Design Safety Standards for Handguns in Maryland

Maryland has established a handgun roster that, subject to limited exceptions, lists the only handguns that dealers or any private sellers are allowed to sell in the state.1 A handgun manufactured after January 1, 1985 that is not included on the handgun roster may not be sold or offered for sale.2

The handgun roster is compiled by the Handgun Roster Board (“Board”), an entity of the Maryland Department of State Police (“DSP”) made up of 11 members (the Secretary of the DSP and ten appointees of the Governor who are knowledgeable in the field) who hold terms of four years.3 The Board must consider the following characteristics of a handgun in determining whether it should be placed on the roster: concealability, ballistic accuracy, weight, quality of materials, quality of manufacture, reliability as to safety, caliber, detectability (vis-à-vis airport and courthouse security equipment standards), and utility for legitimate sporting activities, self- protection, or law enforcement uses.4 The Board must “consider carefully” each characteristic, and must not place “undue weight on any one characteristic.”5

The Secretary of the DSP may seek an order from a circuit court to permanently or temporarily enjoin the willful and continuous manufacture, sale, or offer for sale of a handgun that is not included on the handgun roster.6

There is evidence that legislation banning the sale of junk guns directly affects the number of firearm homicides. A 2002 study of Maryland’s junk gun ban found that the ban resulted in an 8.6% decrease in firearm homicides in the state – an average of 40 lives saved per year – between 1990 and 1998.7

Maryland’s Attorney General may also have authority to regulate junk guns and promulgate other firearms safety standards.8

See our Design Safety Standards for Handguns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-404 – 5-406. ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-406(a)(2). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-404. ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-405. ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-405(b). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-406(b). ⤴︎
  7. Daniel W. Webster et al., Effects of Maryland’s Law Banning “Saturday Night Special” Handguns on Homicides, 155 Am. J. Epidemiology 406, 409-411 (Mar. 2002). Another study on Maryland’s ban showed that the law reduced the use of prohibited junk guns by criminals in Baltimore, finding that a junk gun prohibited in Maryland was more than twice as likely to be the subject of a law enforcement crime gun trace request in 15 other major U.S. cities combined than in Baltimore. Jon S. Vernick et al., Effects of Maryland’s Law Banning Saturday Night Special Handguns on Crime Guns, 5 Inj. Prevention 259, 261-263 (Dec. 1999). ⤴︎
  8. See the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 13-201 et seq. For additional details, see Legal Action Project, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Targeting Safety (2001), available at http://www.bradycenter.org/xshare/pdf/reports/targetingsafety.pdf. ⤴︎

Disarming Prohibited Persons in Maryland

Maryland law does not establish a clear process to ensure the surrender or removal of guns from violent offenders. Maryland has enacted mandatory laws requiring the relinquishment of firearms by domestic violence abusers, however, as well as an extreme risk protection order law.

Extreme Risk Protective Orders

In 2018, Maryland enacted a law that enables certain individuals to petition a court to remove guns from a person in crisis. The law, called an Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) law, allows a law enforcement officer, family member, dating partner, mental health professional, or health officer to file a petition demonstrating to a judge that an individual poses a danger to himself, herself, or others.1 If the court determines that the petitioner has met the standard of proof, it will issue an order that lasts up to one year. An individual subject to an ERPO must relinquish his or her guns to law enforcement. Read more about these types of laws on our policy page, Extreme Risk Protective Orders.

Handguns and Assault Weapons

A regulated firearm (handgun or assault weapon) or an assault pistol that is sold, rented, transferred, possessed, received or purchased in violation of state law governing such firearms may be seized by law enforcement as “contraband” and disposed of.2 A handgun that is “worn, carried, or transported” in violation of state laws governing the carrying and transporting of handguns is subject to seizure and forfeiture by law enforcement.3 Ammunition found “in the immediate vicinity” of such a handgun is also subject to seizure.4 Moreover, ammunition “worn, carried, or transported” in violation of state laws governing the carrying and transporting of handguns or penalizing the commission of a crime with a handgun is also subject to seizure and forfeiture.5

A law enforcement officer may conduct a limited search, without a search warrant, if he or she reasonably believes a person: 1) may be wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun in violation of state law; and 2) is a danger to law enforcement or others due to the possession of the handgun.6 The officer must also believe it is impracticable to obtain a search warrant and that “swift measures” are necessary to discover whether the person is wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun.7 If, subsequent to a search, the officer finds that the person is wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, he or she may demand evidence that the person is lawfully permitted to do so. If no evidence is produced, the officer may seize the handgun and arrest the person.8

After law enforcement seizes a handgun, the officers must attempt to locate the owner.9 Law enforcement has discretion to either return the handgun to the owner or notify the owner that he or she may apply within 30 days for a review to determine whether the owner: 1) “knew or should have known that the handgun was worn, carried, transported, or used” in violation of state laws governing the carrying and transporting of handguns; and 2) is legally permitted to possess the handgun.10

Under Maryland law, if a mental health facility hearing officer enters an order for involuntary commitment and the hearing officer determines that the individual cannot safely possess a firearm based on credible evidence of dangerousness to others, the hearing officer must order the individual who is subject to the involuntary commitment to: 1) surrender any firearms in the individual’s possession to law enforcement; and 2) refrain from purchasing a firearm unless specifically granted relief.11

Machine Guns

Maryland provides that a court may issue a warrant to search for and seize a machine gun that is possessed in violation of state law regulating possession of machine guns.12

 

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-601 et seq., as added by Md. H.B. 1302 (2018). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-135. See also Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-304. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-201(1). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-201(2)(ii). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-201. ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-206(a)(1). ⤴︎
  7. Id. ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-206(b). ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-203(a). ⤴︎
  10. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-203(a)(2), (3), (b). If the owner of a seized handgun timely requests a review, law enforcement must informally review whether the owner knew or should have known of the unlawful use of the handgun. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-204. If the review results in a decision favorable to the owner, law enforcement must return the handgun to the owner if he or she is legally permitted to possess it. If the handgun is needed as evidence in a criminal case or investigation, it must be returned promptly when the case or investigation ends. If the informal review results in an unfavorable conclusion for the owner, within 30 days of notification of such determination the owner may petition for review by the District Court. Id. See Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 13-205 for information on seized handguns in criminal cases. ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Health, Gen. § 10-632. ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-402(c). ⤴︎

Domestic Violence & Firearms in Maryland

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

Maryland prohibits the sale or other transfer of a “regulated firearm” (handgun or assault weapon) to, or possession of a firearm by, any person “convicted of a disqualifying crime.”1 A person “convicted of a disqualifying crime” is also prohibited from possessing a standard rifle or shotgun.2

State law specifies that “convicted of a disqualifying crime” includes:  (i)  a case in which a person received probation before judgment for a crime of violence; and (ii)  a case in which a person received probation before judgment in a “domestically related crime,” but does NOT include a case in which a person received a probation before judgment for assault in the second degree, unless it was domestically related, or that was expunged under a certain section of Maryland law.3

“Disqualifying crime” is generally defined as: 1) a crime of violence in Maryland or another state; or 2) any Maryland-classified misdemeanor that carries a statutory penalty of more than two years.4

Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by certain domestic violence misdemeanants.

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders

In Maryland, persons named as a respondent against whom a “non ex parte civil protective order” has been issued are prohibited from possessing a handgun or assault weapon.5 Moreover, no person may sell, rent or transfer a handgun or assault weapon to a person who is subject to a current “non ex parte civil protective order” issued pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.6 Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by certain domestic violence protective order defendants.

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders Are Issued

A final domestic violence protective order issued under Maryland Code Ann., Family Law § 4-506 must order the person subject to the order to surrender to law enforcement any firearm in his or her possession, and to refrain from possession of any firearm for the duration of the protective order.7 Law enforcement receiving a firearm lawfully surrendered must transport and store the firearm safely while the protective order is in effect.8 Maryland law addresses the retaking of possession of the firearm at the expiration of a protective order.9

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When An Abuser is Convicted of a Crime

In 2018, Maryland enacted a law that requires a person convicted of a disqualifying crime to surrender any firearms, if the court has found that the crime was “domestically related.”10 When a person is charged with such a crime, the state’s attorney must provide the person with a notice that a person convicted of such a crime is prohibited from possessing firearms. When an abuser is convicted of or pleads guilty to such a crime, the court must order the abuser to surrender his or her firearms within 2 business days after the conviction to a law enforcement agency or a federally licensed firearms dealer.  The abuser may designate a representative to transfer the firearms.11 The Police Training and Standards Commission, in consultation with the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, must develop a training curriculum to ensure use of best practices in investigating compliance with these requirements.12

Removal or Surrender of Firearms at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident

Maryland allows a law enforcement officer responding to an alleged domestic violence incident to remove a firearm from the scene if he or she: 1) has probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has occurred; and 2) observed the firearm on the scene during the response.13 The officer must provide information to the owner regarding the process for retrieving the firearm and must provide safe storage for the firearm during any related domestic violence legal proceeding.14 The owner may resume possession of the firearm at the conclusion of legal proceedings related to the domestic violence incident, unless ordered by a court to surrender the weapon.15

See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-133(b)(1), (c), 5-134(b)(2). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-205. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub Safety §§ 5-101(b-1). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(g). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(b)(8). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(b)(10). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(f). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1(a). ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1. ⤴︎
  10. 2018 Md. Chap. 251. ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. §  6-234. ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 3-207. ⤴︎
  13. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(a). ⤴︎
  14. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(b). ⤴︎
  15. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(c). ⤴︎

Fifty Caliber Rifles in Maryland

Maryland regulates the 50 caliber rifle, including the “Barrett light .50 cal. semi-auto” in the list of assault weapons defined as “regulated firearms.”1 Transfers of regulated firearms are subject to enhanced background checks, minimum age restrictions and waiting periods. Moreover, firearms dealers and private sellers must comply with additional regulations when transferring a regulated firearm, and purchasers are limited to the purchase of one regulated firearm per month.

See our Fifty Caliber Rifles policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r)(2)(ix). ⤴︎