(As of May, 1998)

A Synopsis of State Laws On Possession, Purchase and Carrying of Firearms


Please note: In addition to state laws, the purchase, sale and (in certain circumstances) the possession and interstate transportation of firearms is regulated by the Gun Control Act of 1968 as amended by the Firearms Owners' Protection Act. Also, cities and local may have their own firearms ordinances in addition to federal and state laws. Details may be obtained by contacting local law enforcement authorities, and by consulting the State Laws and Published Ordinances - Firearms, available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402

Quick Reference Chart

Rifles & Shotguns


Permint To Purchase



Registration of Firearms



Licensing of Owner



Permit to Carry



* Police recordation is made of purchase from dealers.


No permit is required to possess a rifle or shotgun.
Possession of a handgun is prohibited by any person who:

a. Has been convicted for a crime of violence.
b. Has been convicted of a violation of the Maryland Pistol Law.
c. Is a fugitive from justice.
d. Is a habitual drunkard.
e. Is an addict or habitual user of narcotics, barbiturates or amphetamines.
f. Suffers from a mental disorder and has a history of violate behavior or has been confined for more than 30 consecutive days to a mental facility unless the person possesses a physician's certificate stating that the person is capable of possessing a pistol or revolver without undue danger to the person or others. Such a person is also prohibited from possessing a rifle or shotgun, unless the person possesses an above described physician's certificate.

It is unlawful to possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, or receive a so-called "assault pistol." Current owners may possess such a pistol if it was registered with the state police before August 1, 1994. A registered pistol may be inherited. The following semiautomatic pistols or their copies are "assault pistols":

AA Arms AP-9; Bushmaster; Claridge HI-Tec; D-Max Industries; Encom Mk-IV, MP-9, and MP-45; H & K SP-89 Holmes MP83; Ingram MAC 10/11 and any variations, including Partisan Avenger and SWD Cobray; Intratec TEC-9 and DC-9 (centerfire only); P.A.W.S.; Skorpion; Spectre; Uzi; Weaver Arms "Nighthawk"; Wilkinson Arms "Linda".

After June 1, 1994, It is unlawful to sell, offer to sell, transfer or receive any firearm magazine (except a tube magazine for a .22) that will hold more than 20 rounds. Possession is not prohibited.


No permit is required to purchase a rifle or shotgun but no firearm or ammunition may be sold to any minor under the age of 18 without express parental consent.

A person may not purchase more than one regulated firearm (defined as any handgun or assault weapon as defined in this section) in a 30-day period. The provisions of this subsection do not apply to: (1) a private security company licensed to do business within the State, (2) the purchase of antique firearms as defined under Maryland law, (3) purchases by a licensed firearms dealer; (4) the exchange or replacement of a regulated firearm by a seller for a regulated firearm purchased from the seller by the same person seeking the exchange or replacement within the 30-day period immediately preceding the date of exchange or replacement, (5) or a person whose regulated firearm is stolen or irretrievably lost and who considers it essential that the regulated firearm be replaced immediately if the person provides the licensed regulated firearm dealer with a copy of the official police report which contained the name and address of the regulated firearm owner, a description of the regulated firearm, the location of the loss or theft, the date of the loss or theft, and the date which the loss or theft was reported to the law enforcement agency. A person who is not a regulated firearms dealer may not sell, rent, transfer, or purchase any regulated firearm without going through a regulated firearms dealer.

It is unlawful for any person to sell or transfer a handgun to any person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe is prohibited from possessing a handgun (see "POSSESSION" above) or if the buyer or transferee is:

a. Of unsound mind
b. Visibility under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
c. Under 21.

Purchase of a handgun or "assault weapon" from a dealer is subject to disapproval by the Maryland State Police during a seven-day waiting period.

The buyer must complete an application form which is sent by the dealer to the State Police for investigation. The applicant is required to provide information regarding his eligibility to purchase or possess a handgun, and a description (including a serial number) of the handgun being purchased. Fingerprints are not required. There is a $10 fee.

The application may be disapproved only if the purchaser is ineligible or if the information supplied is false or incomplete. If no action is taken within seven working days from the date the application is forwarded by the dealer, the handgun may be delivered to the purchaser.2 In no case, however, may the handgun be delivered before seven days, even if the application is approved earlier.

A person whose application is denied may request a hearing within 30 days before the Secretary of State Police, who must hold such hearings within 15 days. At the hearing, and in any subsequent court review, the decision generally will be sustained unless it is shown to have been "arbitrary and capricious."

A person may not manufacture, sell or offer for sale a handgun manufactured after January 1, 1985, that is not included on a Handgun Roster of approved handguns, which roster is compiled by a Board composed of nine members appointed by the Governor for a term of four years. Any person who manufactures a handgun for distribution or sale or who sells or offers for a sale a handgun in violation of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $10,000 (manufacture for sale) or $2,500 (offer for sale).

Such Board is to compile a roster of permitted handguns based upon their usefulness for legitimate sporting, self-protection, or law-enforcement purposes. Such roster will be published semi-annually. A person may petition the Board to place handgun on the roster, but the burden of proof is upon that person that such handgun should be placed on the roster. The Board shall, within 45 days of receipt of the petition, deny or approve such petition. However, if the Board fails to deny or approve the petition within 45 days, the petition shall be considered denied. A petitioner may request a hearing within 15 days from the date of denial. The petitioner shall have the burden of proving that the handgun is useful for legitimate sporting, law-enforcement or self-protection purposes. A person who displays a regulated firearm for sale or transfer from a table or fixed display at a gun who shall first obtain a temporary transfer permit from the Secretary of State Police. A criminal history and background check shall be conducted. If there is no reason to discuss the application, the Secretary shall issue the permit within seven days of the date of application. The cost of an initial temporary transfer permit during the same calendar year is $10.00; an additional temporary transfer permit during the same calendar year shall be issued without charge. A person may not receive more than five temporary transfer permits during a calendar year. Any person who holds a valid pistol and revolver dealer's license under 443 of the Maryland Annotated Code is exempt from the above requirements.


Rifles and shotguns being transported in motor vehicles must be unloaded.

It is a crime to wear or carry openly any rifle or shotgun with the intent or purpose of unlawfully injuring any person.

It is unlawful for any person without a permit to wear or carry a handgun, openly or concealed, upon or about his person, or to knowingly transport a handgun in any vehicle traveling on public roads, highways, waterways or airways or upon roads or parking lots generally used by the public. This does not apply to any person wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun within the confines of real estate owned or leased by him, or on which he resided, or within the confines of a business establishment owned or leased by him. [3]

Federal and Maryland State or local law enforcement officers generally are exempt from the permit requirement. However, sheriffs and their deputies are exempted only while on active assignment engaged in law enforcement and only with respect to handguns which they are duly authorized to wear, carry or transport as part of their official equipment. Law enforcement officers from other states are exempt only while on official business.

No violation is committed by any person who can demonstrate that the handgun is being carried, worn or transported:

1. Too or from a place of legal purchase or sale or repair shop.
2. Between such person's bona fide residences or between his residence and place of business if the business is operated and substantially owned by that person.
3. While engaged in or traveling to and from a "target shoot, formal or informal target practice, sport shooting event, hunting, trapping or dog obedience training class or show."
4. By a bona fide gun collector who is "moving any part or all of his gun collection from place to place for public or private exhibition," and while such handguns are actually on exhibition.

During transportation to and from the above places, the handguns must be unloaded and carried in an enclosed case or enclosed holster. [4]

An additional penalty is provided for any person convicted of unlawfully wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun, if his deliberate purpose was to injury or kill another person.


Application for a permit to carry a handgun is made to the Secretary of State Police. The applicant should submit a notarized letter stating the reasons why he is applying for a permit, in addition to the printed application form. The permit may be issued if the Secretary finds that the applicant:

1. Is 18 years of age or older.
2. Has not been convicted of a felony or of a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.
3. Has not been committed within the previous 10 years to any juvenile detention center for longer than one year.
4. Is not an addict or alcoholic nor has ever been convicted of a narcotics offense.
5. Has not, based on the results of investigation, exhibited a propensity for violence or instability.
6. Has, based on the results of investigation, "good and substantial reason" to carry a handgun, including a finding that the permit is "necessary as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger." [5]

The Secretary may charge a $70.00 nonrefundable fee payable upon application. The renewal fee is $50.00. There is also a $5.00 fingerprint fee.

The permit is valid for two years after its issuance and expires on the last day of the holder's birth month. Subsequent renewals are valid for periods of three years each. Applications for renewals should be submitted 90 days prior to expiration.

A permit holder must carry his permit whenever he "carries, wears or transports a handgun." The permit authorizes the holder to carry any handgun which he may legally own or possess.

It is unlawful for a permit holder to carry a handgun while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

An applicant may appeal rejection to the Handgun Permit Review Board within ten days after receipt of a written notice of the Secretary's action.


Out-of-state permits to carry a handgun are not honored in Maryland.


An antique firearm, defined as one manufactured on or before 1898, or any replica thereof which is not designed for firing fixed ammunition or which uses fixed ammunition no longer manufactured in the United States and no longer readily available commercially, is exempted from state law.


A machine gun is defined as a weapon "loaded or unloaded from which more than one shot may be automatically discharged from a magazine by a single function of the firing device."

Possession of a machine gun for an "aggressive or offensive purpose" is prohibited. A machine gun must be registered within 24 hours of acquisition and annually thereafter with the Secretary of Police. There is a $10 fee.

A presumption of possession for an aggressive or offensive purpose is raised by (a) a failure to register, or (b) possession by a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence or by an alien, or (c) possession elsewhere than on one's premises owned or rented for permanent residence or business occupancy, or (d) when empty or loaded shells for the machine gun are "found in the immediate vicinity thereof."

This law does not "prohibit or interfere with" any machine gun which is (a) possessed for scientific purposes, or (b) not usable as a weapon and possessed as a "curiosity, ornament or keepsake," or (c) possessed "for a purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive."


It is unlawful to alter or obliterate the manufacturer's identification mark or number on any firearm. Any person in possession of such a weapon will be presumed to have committed an offense.

Persons wishing to sell and display firearms at gun shows must have a trader's license unless they can present an "Exhibitor's Affidavit" stipulating that they (1) derive less than 10% of their income from the sale of firearms, and (2) have not participated in more than three shows during the previous 365 days.

The Maryland state legislature has reserved to itself (and denied to county and local governments) the right to regulate possession, sale, carry and transportation of firearms.
It is unlawful to carry any firearms or deadly weapon of any kind on any public school property.

The use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or any crime of violence is a separate crime. In addition, to any other sentence imposed, it is mandatory upon the court to impose no less than the minimum sentence of five years, which may not be suspended, nor may probation be granted.

It is unlawful to store or leave a loaded firearms where a person knew or should have known an unsupervised person under 16 would gain access to it.

Md. Code Art. 27, 481E lists by name so-called "assault weapon" firearms.

CAUTION: State firearms laws are subject to frequent change. The above summary is not to be considered as legal advice or a restatement of law. To determine the applicability of these laws to specific situations which you may encounter, you are strongly urged to consult a local attorney.

Compiled by:
NRA, Institute for Legislative Action, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA 22030


1 If a person has spent more than 30 consecutive days in any institution for treatment of a mental disorder, he must provide a physician's certificate certifying that he is capable of possessing a handgun.
2 Most Maryland dealers who are licensed by the State Police routinely await approval from the State Police even after seven days have elapsed.
3 A supervisory employee also may wear, carry or transport a handgun within the confines of a business establishment in which he is employed while he is acting in the course of his employment and if he has been authorized to do so by the owner or manager.
4 An enclosed holster is any holster with a flap or strap to secure the handgun in the holster.
5 This provision affords the Secretary wide discretion to grant or deny permits. Although originally drafted to guarantee that self-defense would not be excluded as a good and substantial reason, the language presently is interpreted by the law enforcement authorities to require a demonstration of "apprehended danger" as a prerequisite for issuance of the permit.

This information provided by NRA/ILA

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Most recent revision January 2003