Maryland Firearms Laws and Regulations
Maryland has quite a few laws applying to firearms. The ones covered here are related to “regulated” firearms and the carry of firearms. These are intended to be easy to understand, not comprehensive. This is not legal advice - consult a lawyer if you need legal advice.
Not all codes and regulations are quoted, and you should spend the time to familiarize yourself with the entirety of Maryland’s laws relating to firearms possession and use.
You cannot wear, carry, or transport a handgun (concealed or open) on a person or in a vehicle unless you are:
A MD Wear and Carry holder
Going to the gun store
Going to a repair shop
Going between homes
Boing between your home and business
participating in and on the way to or from:
an organized military activity
a target shoot
formal or informal target practice
a sport shooting event
A DNR sponsored firearms and hunter safety class
a dog obedience training class or show
The moving by a Designated Collector) of part or all of the collection for public or private exhibition
on real estate that you own, lease, or reside in
A regulated firearm is:
a machine gun
a firearm that is an assault weapon EG:
American Arms Spectre da Semiautomatic carbine;
AK–47 in all forms;
Barrett light .50 cal. semi–auto;
Bushmaster semi–auto rifle;
Colt AR–15, CAR–15, and all imitations
except Colt AR–15 Sporter H–BAR rifle;
ETC - Refer to the full list in the law
A dealer or any other person may not sell, rent, or transfer a handgun unless they are presented a valid HQL
You may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if you:
have an HQL
are Law Enforcement
are an active or retired member of the armed forces with a valid military ID card
are purchasing, renting, or receiving an antique, curio, or relic firearm
are not prohibited from possessing a handgun
An HQL shall be issued to you if you are:
at least 21 years old;
a resident of the State;
have demonstrated satisfactory completion of a firearms safety training course
are not prohibited from buying or possessing a handgun.
You may not purchase more than one regulated firearm every 30 days.
You may not sell, rent, or transfer a regulated firearm to a an applicant that is placed on hold
You must be 21 to possess a regulated firearm.
Under 21 temporary possession is allowed if you:
- are under the supervision of a person at least 21 years old and have parental permission
are participating in marksmanship training
are under the supervision of a qualified instructor;
are a person who is required to possess a regulated firearm for employment
for defense against a trespasser into your home
You may not possess a regulated firearm if you:
have been convicted of a disqualifying crime
have been convicted of a common law crime and imprisoned more than 2 years
are a fugitive from justice
are a habitual drunkard;
are addicted to a controlled dangerous substance or are a habitual user
suffer from a mental disorder with a history of violent behavior
have been found incompetent to stand trial
have been found not criminally responsible
have been voluntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days
have been involuntarily committed
is under the protection of a guardian appointed by a court
are a respondent against whom:
a current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered
an order for protection has been issued; or
are under the age of 30 and were adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court
a crime of violence;
a violation of § 5–602, § 5–603, § 5–604, § 5–605, § 5–612, § 5–613, § 5–614, § 5–621, or § 5–622 of the Criminal Law Article; or
an offense under the laws of another state equal the prohibited crimes
Violation is a felony
with a mandatory sentence of 5 years and not eligible for parole during those 5 years.
Each violation is a separate crime.
You can gift a regulated firearm if you both follow the laws and can possess it.
If you give them a gift certificate only they have to qualify for possession.
If you gift it to your spouse, parent, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, or child they
must complete a 77r
there is no fee for gift transfers
DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN STRAW PURCHASES
WEAR AND CARRY
YOU MUST HAVE A PERMIT TO CARRY BEFORE YOU CARRY
Permits are issued to adults that:
are not prohibited
are not drunkards
are not addicts
have successfully completed training
does not exhibit a propensity for violence
if under 30, does not have a juvenile record
Wear and Carry permit holders may get an HQL for FREE if:
they were issued a permit
do not already have an HQL
Restrictions on the sale, rental, transfer, purchase, receipt, possession, and transport of regulated firearms in MD.
You may not:
Sell, rent, transfer, purchase, receive, or possess a regulated firearm
ever participate in a straw purchase
Traffic in regulated firearms and unlawfully sell them
Obliterate, remove, change, or alter the markings on a firearm
Possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive an assault weapon in the State
- Transport an assault weapon into the State.
You can inherit legally owned assault weapons
Various exemptions exist for:
Law enforcement personnel
Members of the armed forces
A signal pistol or other visual distress signal approved by the Coast Guard as a marine safety device.
Violate these things and you go to jail and your property will be seized as contraband.
ASSISTANCE IN AN EMERGENCY
...You are not civilly liable for any act or omission in providing assistance or medical aid to a victim at the scene of an emergency, if:
(1) The assistance or aid is provided in a reasonably prudent manner;
(2) The assistance or aid is provided without fee or other compensation; and
(3) The individual relinquishes care of the victim when someone who is licensed or certified by this State to provide medical care or services becomes available to take responsibility.
In Baltimore Transit Co. v. Faulkner, a civil lawsuit for assault and battery, the Court of Appeals set forth the general common law principles of the doctrine of self-defense:
The law of self-defense justifies an act done in the reasonable belief of immediate danger. If an injury was done by a defendant in justifiable self-defense, he can neither be punished criminally nor held responsible for damages in a civil action. ... One who seeks to justify an assault on the ground that he acted in self-defense must show that he used no more force than the exigency reasonably demanded. The belief of a defendant in an action for assault that the plaintiff intended to do him bodily harm cannot support a plea of self-defense unless it was such a belief as a person of average prudence would entertain under similar circumstances. The jury should accordingly be instructed that to justify assault and battery in self-defense the circumstances must be such as would have induced a reasonable man of average prudence to make such an assault in order to protect himself. The question whether the belief of the defendant that he was about to be injured was a reasonable one under all the circumstances is a question for the consideration of the jury.
The Court of Appeals said in the case that, even if the plaintiff had struck the defendant's employees first, the plaintiff would still be entitled to prevail in an action for battery if the defendant's employees, in repelling the plaintiff's acts, "used unreasonable and excessive force, meaning such force as prudent men would not have used under all the circumstances of the case."
USE OF DEADLY FORCE
Maryland follows common law principles on the use of deadly force in self-defense. In the case of State v. Faulkner, the Court of Appeals summarized those principles, and stated that a homicide is justified on the ground of self-defense if the following criteria are satisfied:
(1) The accused must have had reasonable grounds to believe himself in apparent imminent or immediate danger of death or serious bodily harm from his assailant or potential assailant;
(2) The accused must have in fact believed himself in this danger;
(3) The accused claiming the right of self defense must not have been the aggressor or provoked the conflict;
(4) The force used must have not been unreasonable and excessive, that is, the force must not have been more force than the exigency demanded.
“One Faced With Attack Upon His Dwelling Need Not Retreat, But May Stand Ground, And If Necessary To Repel Attack, Kill Attacker — General Applicability Of Rules Involving Right To Defend One's Person — Force Used Must Not Be Excessive. It is a generally accepted rule, with which this Court indicated its agreement, that a man faced with a danger of an attack upon his dwelling need not retreat from his home in order to escape the danger, but instead he may stand his ground, and if necessary to repel the attack, he may kill the attacker.”
A person does not have to be the owner of the home or the head of the household in order to be able to invoke the "Castle Doctrine." Instead, "any member of the household, whether or not he or she has a proprietary or leasehold interest in the property, is within its ambit. ... "
See also Roach v. State.
DUTY TO RETREAT
Maryland follows the common law rule that, outside of one's home, before using deadly force in self-defense, a person has the duty "'to retreat or avoid danger if such means were within his power and consistent with his safety.'" But a person does not have to retreat if it would not be safe for the person to do so. "[I]f the peril of the defendant was imminent, he did not have to retreat but had a right to stand his ground and to defend and protect himself."