Maryland prohibits local governments from regulating the purchase, sale, taxation, transfer, manufacture, repair, ownership, possession and transportation of handguns, rifles, shotguns and ammunition.1 Under section 4-209(b), local governments may, however, regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession and transportation of such firearms and ammunition with respect to minors, defined as those under the age of 182; law enforcement officials of the local government; and activities in or within 100 yards of “a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly.” Section 4-209(d) also allows local governments to regulate the discharge of firearms, but not at “established ranges.”

Two Attorney General opinions express the view that certain local ordinances fall within the exceptions of section 4-209(b) and are likely not preempted.3

Other Maryland laws also preempt local action. The Court of Appeals of Maryland has found that uncodified Chapter 13, Section 6 of the Acts of 1972, which prohibits local regulation of the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns, preempted a county ordinance which attempted to regulate the sale of ammunition and the wearing, carrying or transporting of loaded handguns.4

In addition, under Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(p), handguns and assault weapons are defined as “regulated firearms.” Maryland preempts the right of any local jurisdiction to regulate the possession (§ 5-133(a)), sale (§ 5-104), or transfer (§ 5-134(a)) of these firearms.

These code sections have no exceptions. Nevertheless, the Attorney General, when interpreting the former versions of these sections (substantially similar to the current versions), opined that the exceptions to preemption (concerning minors, law enforcement, parks, churches, etc.) should be given effect.5

Maryland law provides that political subdivisions may not adopt any noise control ordinance, rule or regulation prohibiting trapshooting, skeet shooting or other target shooting activities between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. by a shooting sports club in operation as of January 1, 2001.6

The prohibition on local noise control laws for shooting sports clubs also applies to Allegany, Anne Arundel, Garrett and Washington counties and political subdivisions in those counties for clubs in operation as of January 1, 2005. Section 3-105(a)(4). Allegany, Anne Arundel, Garrett and Washington counties and their political subdivisions may, however, 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, 2005.7

  1. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law § 4-209(a). ⤴︎
  2. See Md. Ann. Code art. 1, § 24 ⤴︎
  3. See 82 Op. Att’y Gen. 84 (1997), 1997 Md. AG LEXIS 5 (local ordinance requiring the sale of trigger locks with handguns was within the “minors” exception to the preemption statute); and 76 Op. Att’y Gen. Md. 240 (1991), 1991 Md. AG LEXIS 64 (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”). ⤴︎
  4. Montgomery County v. Atlantic Guns, 489 A.2d 1114, 1118 (Md. 1985). ⤴︎
  5. 76 Op. Att’y Gen. 240 (1991), 1991 Md. AG LEXIS 64. ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Envir. § 3-105(a)(3). ⤴︎
  7. See sections 3-105(a)(4) and 3-401 for additional information. ⤴︎