Gun Shows in Maryland

Maryland requires all vendors displaying state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 for transfer from a table or fixed display at a gun show to hold either a valid Maryland regulated firearms dealer’s license or, for persons displaying a firearm at five or fewer gun shows per year, a temporary transfer permit issued by Secretary of the Maryland State Police.2 Maryland defines a gun show as “any organized gathering open to the public at which any firearm is displayed.”3 All prospective transfers of regulated firearms at a gun show are subject to a background check.4

Each temporary transfer permit is valid for a single gun show, and a person may not receive more than five permits during a single calendar year.5

Persons displaying standard rifles and shotguns are not required to possess either a dealer’s license or a temporary transfer permit, and private transfers of these firearms are not subject to federal or state background check requirements, although federal and limited state purchaser prohibitions still apply.

See the Maryland Private Sales section for state laws that may apply at gun shows.

See our Gun Shows policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-130(c), (i). Applicants for temporary transfer permits are subject to a background investigation. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-130(e), (g). For additional information, see Md. Code Regs. – ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-130(a). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-130(j). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-130(i)(1). Sales of regulated firearms at public auctions or flea markets must comply with Maryland’s firearm transfer laws. Md. Code Regs. ⤴︎

Guns in Schools in Maryland

Maryland prohibits any person from carrying or possessing a firearm on public school property.1

Exceptions to this prohibition include persons engaged in an organized shooting activity for educational purposes and persons who, with a written invitation from the school principal, display or engage in a historical demonstration using a weapon or a replica of a weapon for educational purposes.2

There is no exception for possession by handgun permit holders.

This law does not apply to an off-duty law enforcement officer who is a parent, guardian, or visitor of a student attending a school located on the public school property, provided that:

  • The officer is displaying the officer’s badge or credential; and
  • The weapon carried or possessed by the officer is concealed. ((Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-102(a)(2).)

See our Guns in Schools policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.


  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-102(b). In Maryland, a county superintendent or the superintendent’s representative shall suspend a student for a minimum of one year if that student possesses a firearm on school property. Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-305(f)(2). The superintendent may specify, on a case-by-case basis, a shorter period of expulsion or an alternative educational setting, if alternative educational settings have been approved by the county board, for a student who brought a gun onto school property. Md. Code Ann., Educ. § 7-305(f)(3). See also Md. Code Regs. 13A.08.01.12-1. ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-102(a). ⤴︎

Guns in Vehicles in Maryland

Maryland prohibits the knowing transportation of a handgun, whether openly or concealed, on or about the person or in a vehicle traveling on a state highway, waterway, airway, or road or parking lot generally used by the public.1 Exceptions to these provisions include transporting a handgun to or from:

  • A place of purchase or repair;
  • A residence and business; or
  • An organized military activity, formal or informal target practice, sport shooting event, or hunting.2

Under these exceptions, the handgun must be unloaded and carried in an enclosed case or holster.3 Persons with a permit to wear, carry, or transport the handgun are exempt.4

Maryland prohibits the possession of a loaded handgun or shotgun, or a rifle containing any ammunition in the magazine or chamber, in or on an automobile or other vehicle.5

Maryland also prohibits any person from boarding, attempting to board, or being aboard a commercial aircraft with a firearm, whether openly carried or concealed.6

  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(a)(1). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(b)(3), (4). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(b)(3). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-203(b)(2). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Nat. Res. § 10-410(c)(1). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Transp. § 5-1008. ⤴︎

Immunity Statutes in Maryland

Maryland prohibits the imposition of strict liability for injuries to another that result from the criminal use of a firearm by a third person.1 This restriction does not apply if the person conspired with the third person to commit the criminal act in which the firearm was used or willfully aided, abetted, or caused the commission of the criminal act in which the firearm was used.  The legislature enacted this section to supersede Kelley v. R.G. Industries, Inc.,2 which had imposed strict liability on a manufacturer of “Saturday Night Specials” (otherwise known as Junk Guns) for their criminal misuse.

See our policy page on Gun Industry Immunity for further information.

  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-402(b)(2). ⤴︎
  2. 497 A.2d 1143 (Md. 1985). ⤴︎

Investing in Local Intervention Strategies in Maryland


Gun violence is by far the largest driver of homicides in America, the overwhelming majority of which take the form of day-to-day shootings in underserved communities.1 Black and Latino young men living in urban neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by this tragic violence—almost 75% of America’s 14,415 gun homicide victims in 2016 were either Black or Latino, and nearly 85% male.2

In order to adequately address this public health crisis, we need policies that address not only the supply of guns in impacted communities, but also the root causes of community violence. In addition to stronger gun laws, there are a number of highly effective intervention strategies that directly address gun homicides and shootings by working with high-risk individuals to disrupt cycles of violence. For more details on these strategies, see our Healing Communities in Crisis report.

Interpersonal Gun Violence in Maryland

In recent years, Maryland has suffered an average of 313 gun-related homicides and 825 non-fatal shootings per year and has the fifth-highest rate of gun homicide in the country.3 Interpersonal gun violence in Maryland is overwhelmingly concentrated in cities, especially Baltimore, which in 2016 alone experienced 275 gun homicides and 667 nonfatal shootings.4 This ongoing violence exacts an enormous physical, emotional, and financial toll on Maryland families and communities.

In addition to the human suffering, shootings in Maryland result in an estimated $1.2 billion in direct economic costs, including healthcare costs, law enforcement expenses, lost wages, and costs to employers.5 Many of these costs fall directly on Maryland taxpayers. The investment required to scale up and expand lifesaving gun violence intervention strategies solutions in Maryland cities is minuscule compared to the yearly cost of gun violence in the state.

To its credit, the State of Maryland, through its newly created Violence Intervention and Prevention Program, is one of just a small handful of states directly investing in the local implementation of evidence-based solutions to gun violence.6

Maryland’s Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP)

In early 2018, with assistance and advocacy from Giffords Law Center and a broad coalition of gun violence prevention and social justice organizations, the Maryland legislature passed legislation establishing the Maryland Violence Intervention and Prevention Program (VIPP). This legislation had strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by Republican Governor Larry Hogan.7

Administered by the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention in coordination with the State Department of Health, the VIPP provides critical funding to support effective gun violence reduction strategies. Under the program, local governments and nonprofits may apply for grants to implement evidence-based gun violence prevention and intervention programs.8

In awarding VIPP grants, preference is given to applicants that serve communities disproportionately affected by violence and applicants that propose to direct VIPP funds to programs that have been shown to be the most effective at reducing violence.

To ensure the long-term viability of such programs, funding will be made available to grantees for a minimum of three consecutive fiscal years. For Fiscal Year 2018-2019, Governor Hogan’s office announced that the VIPP would initially provide $4 million in grant funding. Awards were administered to seven grantees, with the largest grant going to the City of Baltimore in the amount of $2,725,000.9

According to Governor Hogan’s office, “grants were awarded based on applications received and amounts requested,” with an eye toward “crime prevention programs that make good use of hard-earned dollars and are effective at reducing crime.”10 In the first year of funding, this includes public health strategies for addressing violence such as street outreach work and hospital-based violence intervention programs in some of Maryland’s hardest-hit areas.

Street Outreach Work in Baltimore

Baltimore is leveraging this state funding, with an additional $1.3 million in matching city funds, to expand the Safe Streets program to several new neighborhoods.11 Safe Streets is a street outreach program based on the Cure Violence model of violence prevention, which treats gun violence as a communicable disease and works to interrupt its transmission among high-risk community members.12

The Cure Violence model employs “Violence Interrupters,” and “Outreach Workers,” individuals who understand the dynamics of street violence and are able to connect with those who are most at risk to commit or become the victims of gun violence. Violence Interrupters use their position of respect in the community to mediate conflicts and defuse potentially dangerous situations before they become violent. At the same time, Outreach Workers attempt to connect the most at-risk individuals with badly needed social support services. All of this occurs while a norm-changing campaign takes place to send the message that violence will no longer be tolerated by the community.13

Several evaluations have found this strategy to be associated with significant reductions in firearm homicides and assaults. In New York City, for example, researchers found Cure Violence to be associated with up to 63% reduction in shootings within implementation neighborhoods.14

Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs

In addition to the grant provided to the City of Baltimore, smaller VIPP awards went to support violence intervention and prevention efforts in three Maryland hospitals, two community-based organizations, and one medical foundation.15 Several of these grantees are implementing Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs), which interrupt cycles of violence by providing intensive counseling, case management, and social services to patients recovering from serious injuries.16

Research shows that the strongest risk factor for violent injury is a history of previous violent injury, with the chances of injury recidivism as high as 45% within the first five years.17 Hospitalization for a serious injury presents a unique “teachable moment,” as individuals are generally more open to positive intervention and behavior change at this time.

HVIPs screen patients based on predetermined criteria to identify individuals at highest risk for reinjury, and subsequently partner them with trained, culturally competent case managers.18 Case managers then help connect high-risk individuals to community-based organizations to give them access to critical resources such as mental health services, tattoo removal, GED programs, employment, court advocacy, and housing.19

Evaluations have shown that patients who receive HVIP services are four times less likely to be convicted of a violent crime and four times less likely to be violently reinjured than patients who do not receive such services.20 HVIPs are an effective method of breaking cycles of violence in urban communities and have positive impacts on clients and communities in which they are active.

Maryland’s increased investment in this strategy is likely to result in desperately needed reductions in levels of violence in the state with the nation’s fifth-highest rate of gun homicide.

Investing in Intervention

With the launch of VIPP, Maryland is now one of only six states providing meaningful support to cities and community-based organizations seeking to implement and sustain evidence-based gun violence intervention strategies at the local level.

Other states that have chosen to fund violence intervention and prevention strategies, including Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, have witnessed substantial reductions in gun violence—saving both lives and taxpayer dollars. To learn more about how states are supporting effective evidence-based gun violence reduction strategies, see our report, Investing in Intervention: The Critical Role of State Level Support in Breaking the Cycle of Urban Gun Violence.

  1. According to CDC data, out of 19,362 total homicides in the US in 2016, 14,415—or nearly 75%—were committed with a firearm. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports, ⤴︎
  2. Id. ⤴︎
  3. Fatal firearm injury data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports ( Nonfatal firearm injuries came from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s HCUPnet Query System (; 2017 state gun homicide ranking is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Underlying Cause of Death 1999-2017, on CDC WONDER Online Database, accessed Dec 14, 2018, ⤴︎
  4. “Victim Based Crime Data,” Baltimore Police Department, accessed July 26, 2017, ⤴︎
  5. Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, The Economic Cost of Gun Violence in Maryland, ⤴︎
  6. Nick Wing, “There’s A Cheap And Effective Way To Reduce Gun Violence. Why Aren’t More States Doing It?” HuffPost, May 4, 2018, ⤴︎
  7. Nick Wing, “Maryland’s GOP Governor Signs Broad Set Of Gun Bills Into Law,” HuffPost, April 24, 2018, ⤴︎
  8. MD HB 432, ⤴︎
  9. “Hogan Administration Awards Close to $4 Million for New Violence Prevention Program,”, ⤴︎
  10. Id. ⤴︎
  11. Ian Duncan, “Three Baltimore neighborhoods picked for new Safe Streets anti-violence sites,” Baltimore Sun, Dec. 14, 2018, ⤴︎
  12. “Safe Streets,” Baltimore City Health Department, ⤴︎
  13. See Cure Violence, ⤴︎
  14. Sheyla A. Delgado, Laila Alsabahi, Kevin Wolff, Nicole Alexander, Patricia Cobar, and Jeffrey A. Butts, “The Effects of Cure Violence in the South Bronx and East New York, Brooklyn,” John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Oct. 2, 2017, ⤴︎
  15. “Hogan Administration Awards Close to $4 Million for New Violence Prevention Program,” ⤴︎
  16. Nick Wing, “Hospitals Are Trying To Do What Politicians Haven’t: Stop Gun Violence,” HuffPost, Nov. 23, 2018, ⤴︎
  17. J. Purtle et. al., “Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs Save Lives and Money,” J. Trauma Acute Care Surg. 75, no. 2 (2013): 331–333. ⤴︎
  18. Rochelle A. Dicker et. al., “Where Do We Go From Here? Interim Analysis to Forge Ahead in Violence Prevention,” J. Trauma 67, no. 6 (2009): 1169–1175,; see also Naneen Karraker, MA, Rebecca Cunningham, MD, Marla Becker, MPH, Joel Fein, MD, MPH, and Lyndee Knox, PhD, Violence is Preventable: A Best Practices Guide for Launching & Sustaining a Hospital-based Program to Break the Cycle of Violence (National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs, 2011), available for download at ⤴︎
  19. Purtle, et al., “Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs Save Lives and Money,” Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 75, no. 2 (2013): 331–333, ⤴︎
  20. T.L. Cheng, et al., “Effectiveness of a Mentor-Implemented, Violence Prevention Intervention for Assault-injured Youths Presenting to the Emergency Department: Results of a Randomized Trial,” Pediatrics 122 (2008): 938–946,; see also C. Cooper, D.M. Eslinger, and P.D. Stolley, “Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs Work,” J. Trauma 61 (2006): 534–540, ⤴︎

Licensing of Gun Owners & Purchasers in Maryland

Handgun Qualification License

A person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun under state or federal law, and:

  • Possesses a valid handgun qualification license issued by the Secretary of State;
  • Possesses valid credentials from a law enforcement agency or retirement credentials from a law enforcement agency;
  • Is an active or retired member of the armed forces and possess a valid military ID; or
  • Is purchasing, renting, or receiving an antique, curio, or relic firearm as defined by federal law.1

The Secretary must issue a handgun qualification license to a person who the Secretary finds:

  • Is at least 21 years old;
  • Is a resident of Maryland;
  • Has demonstrated satisfactory completion, within three years prior to the submission of his or her application of a firearms safety training course approved by the Secretary, that includes: 1) A minimum of four hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor; 2) Class instruction on state firearm law, home firearm safety, and handgun mechanisms and operation; and 3) A firearms orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm; and
  • Based on an investigation, is not prohibited by federal or state law from purchasing or possessing a handgun.2

The Secretary must apply to the Central Repository (meaning the Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services) for a state and national criminal history records check for each applicant for a handgun qualification license.3 The information obtained from the Central Repository is confidential and may not be disseminated.4

Within 30 days of application, the Secretary must issue either a handgun qualification license or a written denial of the application that contains the reason the application was denied and a statement of the applicant’s appeal rights.5

A handgun qualification license expires 10 years from the date of issuance and may be renewed.6

A handgun qualification license may be revoked by the Secretary upon a determination that the licensee is no longer qualified.  A person holding a license that has been revoked must return the license within five days after receipt of the notice of revocation.7

A person whose application for a handgun qualification license is denied or whose handgun qualification license is revoked may submit a written request to the Secretary for a hearing within 30 days after the date the written notice of the denial or revocation was sent. A hearing must be granted by the Secretary within 15 days after the request and must be held in the county of the legal residence of the applicant or licensee.8

Firearm Application

In addition, Maryland requires that purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)9 first complete the state’s application form.10 If the transfer is approved, the person has 90 days to complete the purchase.11 See the Background Checks in Maryland section for further information.

As of October 1, 2013, firearm applications must contain an affirmation that the applicant12:

  • Is at least 21 years old;
  • Has never been convicted of a “common law crime” and received a term of imprisonment over two years;
  • Has never been convicted of a disqualifying crime;
  • Is not a fugitive from justice;
  • Is not a habitual drunkard;
  • Is not addicted to a controlled dangerous substance or is not a habitual user;
  • Does not suffer from a mental health disorder as defined by Maryland law and does not have a history of violent behavior against themselves or another person;
  • Has never been: 1) Found incompetent to stand trial; 2) Found “not criminally responsible” due to mental health issue; 3) Voluntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days to a state facility; 4) Involuntarily committed to a state health facility; or 5) Admitted to a mental health facility because of an emergency evaluation or, if so admitted, possesses a certificate from the facility that he or she is capable of possessing a regulated firearm without “undue danger” to himself, herself or another person;
  • Is not under the protection of a guardian appointed by a court (except for case in which appointment of a guardian is solely a result of a physical disability);
  • Is not a respondent against whom: 1) A current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered under § 4-506 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code; or 2) An order for protection has been issued by a court of another state or a Native American Tribe and is in effect;
  • If under age 30 at the time of application, has not been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for an act that would be a disqualifying crime if committed by an adult; and
  • Has completed a certified firearms safety training course that the Police Training Commission conducts or that meets the standards that the Police Training Commission establishes.13

The application must also contain a copy of the applicant’s handgun qualification license and the date and time that the firearm applicant delivered the completed application to the prospective seller or transferor.14

For further information on Maryland’s gun safety training requirements, please consult the Maryland Firearms Safety Training Website.

See our Licensing of Gun Owners or Purchasers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(c). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(d). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(1), (2). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(6). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(h)(1). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(i). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(k). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(l). ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  10. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118. ⤴︎
  11. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-123(b). ⤴︎
  12. Md. Code Ann. Pub. Safety § 5-118. ⤴︎
  13. See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 3-207 for information on the Police Training Commission’s powers and duties. ⤴︎
  14. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-118. ⤴︎

Local Authority to Regulate Firearms in Maryland

Preemption Statutes

The Maryland Legislature has adopted an express preemption statute. Section 4-209 of the Maryland Criminal Law Code provides that:

[T]he State preempts the right of a county, municipal corporation, or special taxing district to regulate the purchase, sale, taxation, transfer, manufacture, repair, ownership, possession, and transportation of:

  1. a handgun, rifle, or shotgun; and
  2. ammunition for and components of a handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

A county, municipal corporation, or special taxing district may not prohibit the teaching of or training in firearms safety, or other educational or sporting use of the items listed in subsection (a) of this section.

To the extent that a local law does not create an inconsistency with this section or expand existing regulatory control, a county, municipal corporation, or special taxing district may exercise its existing authority to amend any local law that existed on or before December 31, 1984.

In addition, Maryland preempts the right of any local jurisdiction to regulate the possession,1 sale,2 or transfer3 of firearms regulated by section 5-101 of the Maryland Code of Public Safety, which includes handguns and certain assault weapons.4


Section 4-209(b) of the Maryland Criminal Law Code provides limited exceptions to Maryland’s firearms preemption statute. Local governments may regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession and transportation of firearms and ammunition with respect to:

  • Minors5
  • Law enforcement officials of the local government
  • Activities in or within 100 yards of “a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly.”

In addition, Section 4-209(d) allows local governments to regulate the discharge of firearms, but not at “established ranges.”


Maryland courts have had occasion to address Maryland’s firearms preemption law.

In State v. Phillips, the defendant challenged the City of Baltimore’s Gun Offender Registry Act (GORA) on several grounds, including preemption. The defendant did not contend that section 4-209(a) expressly preempted Baltimore’s GORA. Instead, he argued that the GORA was impliedly preempted because the state had thoroughly regulated the field of gun offenses. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, holding that, although the state “has heavily regulated the field of use, ownership, and possession of firearms … [it] has not so extensively regulated the field of firearm use, possession, and transfer that all local laws relating to firearms are preempted.”6

The Maryland Attorney General has also had occasion to interpret Maryland’s firearms preemption law.

In 1991, the Attorney General concluded that an ordinance generally prohibiting any person from leaving a loaded or unloaded firearm in close proximity to fixed ammunition in any location where the person knows or reasonably should know that an unsupervised minor may gain access to the firearm was “unquestionably” legislation “with respect to minors,” and therefore within the statutory exception provided by section 4-209(b).7 The Attorney General reached the same conclusion with regard to a local ordinance requiring the sale of trigger locks with handguns.8 Note that in both of these opinions, the Attorney General was interpreting the former version of section 4-209(b), which was substantially similar to the current version.

In 2008, the Attorney General concluded that a local ordinance that would require gun owners to report the theft or loss of a firearm within two days of discovering that the weapon had been lost or stolen was not preempted because, apart from the duty to report the loss of the firearm, the ordinance did not otherwise restrict, control, or affect the ownership, possession, or use of firearms; that the measure was consistent with the state law prohibitions against illegal gun trafficking; and that the ordinance did not otherwise conflict with State law.9 In making its determination, the Attorney General noted that, although the General Assembly “has expressly and broadly preempted local regulation of the manufacture, sale, ownership, possession, and transfer of firearms,” it did not intend “to preempt all local laws that are in any degree related to firearms”.

Other Statutory Provisions

Certain political subdivisions in Maryland are expressly preempted from adopting any noise control ordinance, rule or regulation prohibiting target and other shooting activities between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. by a shooting sports club in operation as of certain dates.10 However, certain political subdivisions may adopt noise control regulations that prohibit target shooting between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. by a shooting sports club that the state Department of the Environment determines is not in compliance with environmental noise standards, sound level limits, or noise control rules and regulations as of January 1, 2005.11 The political subdivision may enforce noise control regulations until compliance with environmental standards is met.


For state laws prohibiting local units of government (i.e., cities and counties) from filing certain types of lawsuits against the gun industry, see our page on Immunity Statutes in Maryland.

  1. Md. Pub. Safety Code Ann. § 5-133(a). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Pub. Safety Code Ann. § 5-104. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Pub. Safety Code Ann. § 5-134(a). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Pub. Safety Code Ann. § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  5. Maryland law defines “minors” as those under the age of 18. Md. Gen. Prov. Code Ann. § 1-103. ⤴︎
  6. State v. Phillips, 210 MD. App. 239, 280-81 (2013). Note that the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland reached the opposite conclusion. See Blue v. Batth, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9230 (state law “has so thoroughly and pervasively covered the subject of firearms regulation … that any non-specified regulation by local governments is clearly preempted.”), quoting Mora v. City of Gaithersburg, 462 F. Supp. 2d 675 (D. Md. 2006), aff’d as modified by 519 F.3d 216 (4th Cir. 2008). The court noted the conflict in Blue v. Batth, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152604, fn 7, 2017 WL 4162244. ⤴︎
  7. 76 Op. Att’y Gen. Md. 240 (1991), 1991 Md. AG LEXIS 64. ⤴︎
  8. 82 Op. Att’y Gen. 84 (1997), 1997 Md. AG LEXIS 5. ⤴︎
  9. 93 Op. Att’y Gen. 126 (2008). ⤴︎
  10. Md. Envir. Code Ann. § 3-105(a)(3), (4). ⤴︎
  11. Md. Envir. Code Ann. § 3-105(a)(4)(ii)(1). ⤴︎

Locking Devices in Maryland

A licensed firearms dealer may not sell or otherwise transfer any handgun in Maryland, manufactured on or before December 31, 2002, without an “external safety lock.”1 An external safety lock is an external device that is attached to a handgun with a key or combination lock and is designed to prevent a handgun from being discharged unless the device has been deactivated.2

In addition, a licensed dealer may not sell or otherwise transfer any handgun in Maryland that was manufactured after December 31, 2002 unless the handgun contains an “integrated mechanical safety device.”3 An integrated mechanical safety device is a disabling or locking device built into a handgun and “designed to prevent the handgun from being discharged unless the device has been deactivated.”4

Federal law also applies.

Maryland does not require firearm owners to lock their weapons.

See our Locking Devices policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-132(c)(1). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-132(a)(3). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-132(c)(2). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-132(a)(6). ⤴︎

Machine Guns & Automatic Firearms in Maryland

Maryland requires that any person possessing a machine gun register his or her gun with the Secretary of Maryland State Police (“DSP”) within 24 hours of acquiring the machine gun, and annually thereafter.1 Registration applications must contain the:

  • Make, model, serial number, caliber, type, barrel length, finish, and country of origin of the machine gun;
  • Name, address, race, gender, date of birth, Maryland driver’s license number, and occupation of the person in possession of the machine gun; and
  • Name of the person from whom the machine gun was acquired and the purpose for acquiring the machine gun.2

Manufacturers of machine guns also must keep a register of each machine gun manufactured or handled by the manufacturer.3 This register must contain the:

  • Method of manufacture and serial number of the machine gun;
  • Date of manufacture, sale, loan, gift, delivery, and receipt of the machine gun from the manufacturer; and
  • Name, address, and occupation of the person to whom the machine gun was sold, loaned, given or delivered, or from whom the machine gun was received, and the purpose for which the machine gun was acquired.4

A manufacturer of a machine gun must allow a marshal, sheriff, or police officer to inspect the manufacturer’s entire stock of machine guns, parts, and supplies, including the register, on demand.5

A court may issue a warrant to search for and seize a machine gun possessed in violation of Maryland criminal law under the same procedure as for issuance of a warrant for stolen property.6 Moreover, a court may order, at the request of the State’s Attorney, the confiscation or destruction of a legally seized machine gun or the transfer of the machine gun to a Maryland peace officer or political subdivision.7

In 2018, Maryland passed a law that prohibits anyone from transporting a “rapid fire trigger activator” into the state. It also prohibits the manufacture, possession, sale, transfer, purchase, or receipt of, or offer to sell a “rapid fire trigger activator.”8 This term is defined to include a bump stock, trigger crank, hellfire trigger, binary trigger system, burst trigger system, or similar device, but does not include a semiautomatic replacement trigger that improves the performance and functionality over the stock trigger.9 A bump stock is a type of firearm accessory that can significantly increase its rate of fire to function similarly to a machine gun. In October, 2017, a shooter used multiple bump fire devices in an attack on concert-goers in Las Vegas to perpetrate the deadliest mass shooting attack in modern history.

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.10 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019.11

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-403(c)(1). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-403(c)(3). ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-403(a)(1). ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-403(a)(2). ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-403(b)(1). ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-402(c)(1). ⤴︎
  7. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-402(c)(2). ⤴︎
  8. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-305.1. ⤴︎
  9. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-301. ⤴︎
  10. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  11. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎