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Understanding Maryland's gun laws

As a Maryland gun owner, you know that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees your right to keep and bear arms. However, while gun ownership is a core American right, it is not an unlimited right. Each state has the authority to place restrictions and requirements on its citizens in terms of what kind of guns they may own and under what circumstances.

In Maryland, for instance, your right to buy, own and carry a rifle or shotgun is basically unrestricted. For handguns, however, you must have a permit to purchase, a license to own and a permit to carry. Also, you must register your handgun(s). Should you fail to adhere to and abide by these Maryland laws, you could face serious charges that carry stiff penalties if convicted.

Purchasing your handgun

Before you can buy a gun in Maryland, you must complete a training course that teaches you how to safely use a firearm. The Police Training Commission offers these courses at no charge. Once you successfully complete the course, you receive a handgun qualification license that you must present to the authorized firearms dealer from whom you purchase your gun. Be aware that you can buy only one handgun at a time and may not purchase another for at least 30 days. The only exceptions are if someone steals your gun within 30 days of purchase or you irretrievably lose it during that period.

Maryland law also requires the following:

  • You must be 21 years old or older.
  • If you are under 30 years of age, you must not have a juvenile court adjudication of delinquency.
  • You must not be a habitual drunkard or habitual user of controlled substances.
  • You must not suffer from a mental disorder or have been confined in a mental facility for more than 30 days.
  • You must not have a history of violent behavior.
  • You must not have a protective order outstanding against you.

Maryland has a seven-day waiting period for all handgun purchases. You must fill out a purchase application that the dealer sends to the Maryland State Police for investigation and approval.

Carrying your gun

If you wish to wear or carry your handgun on your person, you must have a permit to do so. This applies to both open carry and concealed carry.

You can carry a rifle or shotgun in a vehicle as long as it is unloaded and as long as your vehicle is not in a school zone. For all other firearms, however, you can only carry them under the following circumstances:

  • Going to or from the place where you legally purchased or repaired it
  • Going to or from your home and your place of business; this means the business you own, not that someone else owns
  • Going to or from target practice, a target or sports shoot, a hunting or trapping event or a canine obedience class or show
  • Going to or from a private or public exhibition where you, as a bona fide gun collector, will display your gun(s)

As you can see, owning a gun in Maryland is a privilege as well as a right. As long as you abide by Maryland law, you and your guns are welcome in our state.

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