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What are the Gun Laws in Maryland?

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


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Caution: This summary is meant for general purposes only. Firearm laws frequently change and the following answers may not reflect changes in the laws.

Quick Reference

Rifles and Shotguns
  • Permit to purchase rifles and shotguns? No
  • Registration of rifles and shotguns? No
  • Licensing of owners of rifles and shotguns? No
  • Permit to carry rifles and shotguns? No


  • Permit to purchase handgun? No
  • Registration of handguns? Yes
  • Licensing of owners of handguns? No*
  • Permit to carry handguns? Yes


Maryland does not regulate the sale of rifles or shotguns and no permit is required to purchase a rifle or shotgun.

Maryland does regulate the sale, transfer, rent and possession of regulated firearms, which consist of handguns and assault weapons. 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. Alternatively, the prospective seller/transferor and prospective buyer/transferee may complete the transaction through a designated law enforcement agency.

It is unlawful for any person to sell or transfer a regulated firearm to a person whom he knows or has reasonable cause to believe:

  • Is under 21.

  • Has been convicted of a disqualifying crime.

  • Is a fugitive from justice.

  • Is a habitual drunkard.

  • Is addicted to a controlled dangerous substance (habitual user).

  • Suffers from a mental disorder and has a history of violent behavior against himself or another.

  • Has been confined to a facility for more than 30 days for the treatment of a mental disorder.

  • Is a respondent against whom a current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered under.

  • If under the age of 30, has been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for an act that would be a disqualifying crime if committed by an adult.

  • Is visibly under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Is a participant in a straw purchase.

  • For transactions occurring on or after January 1, 2002, has not completed a certified firearms safety training course conducted free of charge by the Police Training Commission or that meets the standards of the Police Training Commission.

Purchase of a handgun or assault weapon from a regulated firearms dealer is subject to disapproval by the Secretary of the Maryland State Police during a seven-day waiting period. The buyer must complete an application form that is sent by the dealer or law enforcement agency to the Secretary of the State Police for investigation.

The applicant is required to provide information regarding the buyer’s eligibility to purchase or possess a handgun, and a description (including a serial number) of the handgun being purchased. 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.

Most Maryland dealers who are licensed by the Maryland State Police, however, routinely await approval from the State Police even after seven days have elapsed. In no case, 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 by writing to the Secretary of the State Police within 30 days after the Secretary forwards notice to the firearm applicant. The Secretary must schedule the hearing within 15 days. At the hearing, and in any subsequent court review, the decision generally will be sustained unless it is shown that the Secretary’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

A person may not purchase more than one regulated firearm in a 30-day period, unless a person who’s regulated firearm is stolen or irretrievably lost within that 30-day period and who considers it essential that the regulated firearm be replaced immediately. In this situation, the person must provide the licensed regulated firearms dealer with a copy of the official police report which contains 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 that the loss or theft was reported to the law enforcement agency.

A person may not manufacture, sell or offer for sale a handgun manufactured after January 1, 1985, that is not included on the Handgun Roster of approved handguns. The roster is compiled by a Handgun Roster Board that is composed of the Secretary of the State Police and ten additional members appointed by the Governor of Maryland.

The Handgun Roster Board also reviews the status of personalized handguns (defined as having an incorporated design technology allowing it to be fired only by a person who is the authorized user and that prevents any of the safety characteristics from being readily deactivated) and reports annually to the governor and legislature regarding whether such handguns are commercially available.

A regulated firearms dealer may not offer for sale or transfer any handgun manufactured on or before December 31, 2002, unless the handgun is offered for sale or transferred with an external safety lock.

Beginning January 1, 2003, handguns manufactured after December 31, 2002, may only be sold or transferred if they have an internal mechanical safety device.

A person who displays a regulated firearm for sale or transfer from a table or fixed display at a gun show must first obtain a temporary transfer permit from the Secretary of State Police. A criminal history and background check will be conducted. If there is no reason to disapprove the application, the Secretary will issue the permit within seven days of the date of application. The cost of an initial temporary transfer permit is $10.00 and an additional temporary transfer permit during the same calendar year will be issued without charge. A person may not receive more than five temporary transfer permits during a calendar year.

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