Do you own or carry a firearm in the state of Maryland? You’re not alone—according to CBS News, around one in five Maryland residents has a firearm of some kind. That’s over 1,200,000 people in this state that owns a gun.
Owning a firearm is a protected right under the United States constitution. However, the various state governments in this country all have their own specific laws, regulations and ordinances governing who may own and carry a gun, as well as laws governing the actual carrying of firearms.
These laws can sometimes be confusing and unclear. If you’re a gun owner, it is imperative that you know the laws and regulations surrounding gun ownership in the state of Maryland. Breaking any of the gun laws in this state can be a serious crime that can upend your life permanently.
If you’re facing a gun crime charge, call Maryland attorney Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 today. The legal consequences of a gun crime conviction can be devastating; Randolph Rice can help you.
What are the gun laws in Maryland?
The Maryland code has many laws regulating gun ownership and usages. The relevant statutes can be found under Maryland Criminal Law 4-201 through 4-503. It is important for gun owners to be very familiar with these laws.
The Maryland state government has determined that “regulations on the wearing, carrying, and transporting of handguns are necessary to preserve the peace and tranquility of the State and to protect the rights and liberties of the public.” To that end, the legislature has enacted numerous rules and laws regarding guns in the state.
Among the most important rules is this: It is generally illegal to “wear, carry, or transport a handgun, whether concealed or open, on or about the person,” either while you are walking or while you are “in a vehicle traveling on a road or parking lot generally used by the public, highway, waterway, or airway of the State.”
There are a number of exceptions to this rule, including: If you have a concealed carry permit, if you are bringing the gun to a repair shop, if you’re a law enforcement officer, if you’re involved in a target shoot or sport shooting event, and several other circumstances.
However, the general rule is that it is illegal to carry a handgun in Maryland. And the penalties for breaking this law can be severe: You might spend anywhere from one month to 10 years in jail, and you can be held to pay upwards of $2,500 in fines.
The state of Maryland takes gun crimes very seriously. If you’re facing a gun crime charge, call Maryland attorney Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 right away. If you’re facing a gun charge, you can’t afford you wait: You need legal representation right away.
Firearms in the use of a crime
Even more so than a general gun crime, Maryland imposes severe penalties for those who are caught using a gun in the commission of another crime. That means that if, for example, a perpetrator uses a handgun to rob a convenience store, the law is going to come down on him very strongly for it.
Maryland code §4–204 stipulates that anyone using a gun “in the commission of a crime of violence” (including robbery, assault, rape and numerous other crimes) is guilty of a misdemeanor and may face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
But that’s not all: The courts are bound by law to impose a minimum sentence of at least five years. That’s right: If you’re convicted under §4-204, you’re facing five years in prison at the very least.
Are you carrying a gun? Law enforcement can check
As noted above, the state of Maryland places many restrictions on who can carry a gun and when. What you may not know is that the state gives law enforcement officers broad power to determine if you are in fact carrying a gun on your person.
- 4-206 of the Maryland criminal code allows that a police officer or other law enforcement official “may make an inquiry and conduct a limited search of a person” if the official “reasonably believes” that the individual “may be wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun” in violation of the law. In other words, if a police officer has a “reasonable” suspicion that you might be breaking the law by carrying a gun, he or she is allowed to search you to figure it out.
If a law enforcement officer does find a weapon on a person, he or she is empowered to “demand evidence from the person of the person’s authority to wear, carry, or transport the handgun.” If the individual cannot provide that evidence, the officer is permitted to either seize the handgun or arrest the individual, or both.
In other words, individuals illegally carrying a firearm in the state of Maryland have a significant chance of being caught—and the penalties and fines that can come with it can be staggering.
Have you been caught illegally carrying a firearm? Call Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 right now. Don’t wait to hire legal defense—you need someone on your side right away, working for you and helping you figure out your next move.
Where is carrying forbidden?
Even if you’re legally permitted to carry a firearm, there are still some places you can’t take it.
As the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes, individuals are prohibited from carrying firearms on public school property. There is no exception for concealed carry permit holders. Those who violate this law face up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
Maryland assault weapons laws: You need to know
Many statutes and regulations in Maryland cover handguns. However, the Maryland criminal code has several special provisions for assault weapons. Gun owners need to know these laws to ensure they do not accidentally break them.
Maryland law defines “assault weapons” under §5-101 of the Public Safety Act as any one of 45 different types of rifles, along with any one of 15 style of “assault pistol” defined under §4-301. The law also covers “copycat weapons,” or rifles with various features such as folding stocks and flash suppressors.
- 4-303 of the criminal code bans individuals from possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, or receiving assault weapons in the state; you are also forbidden from transporting an assault weapon into the state. There are some exceptions to the law: If you purchased an “assault pistol” prior to 1994, or an assault long gun prior to 2003, you may possess it; as well, §4-302 allows some other individuals, such as retired law enforcement, to possess assault weapons.
In general, however, the rule is this: You’re not allowed to have assault weapons in the state of Maryland. If you break the law, you’re facing some serious penalties: As §4-306 explains, violators of this law are looking at up to three years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. And if you’re convicted of using an assault weapon in the commission of a crime? That’s at least five years, possibly twenty. Repeat violators get a minimum 10-year sentence.
Unregistered machine guns: It’s a crime in Maryland
Maryland code §4-405 stipulates that an individual possessing an unregistered machine gun—defined by the law as a gun that can fire more than one round per pull of the trigger—is guilty of a misdemeanor and can face up to ten years in prison.
The law holds that any machine gun purchase in the state must be registered, with the name, address and occupation of the individual who purchased it on file at the manufacturer’s office.
Getting a wear and carry permit in Maryland
Maryland law permits individuals who acquire a carry permit to transport concealed weapons on their person. Maryland’s “Wear and Carry” program mandates 16 hours of instruction for those who want to carry firearms.
The training, given by a qualified instructor, offers “instruction on state firearm law, home firearm safety, handgun mechanisms and operation, and a component that requires the applicant to demonstrate gun safety and proficiency with a minimum score of 70% accuracy.”
According to the website USACarry.com, Maryland is a “may-issue” concealed carry permit state. What does this mean? It means that the government does not necessarily have to issue you a concealed carry permit.
Other states are “shall-issue;” that means that if someone applies for a handgun carry permit and they are not legally prohibited from carrying a gun, then the state must issue the permit.
Maryland, on the other hand, is “may-issue.” State citizens must demonstrate a “good and substantial reason” in seeking a permit—for instance, that they fear for their lives and sincerely need a firearm to protect them from physical harm. Absent such a showing, the state might not issue the permit.
According to GunsToCarry.com, Maryland has 17,414 concealed carry permit holders. That’s about one-and-a-half percent of the total number of gun owners in the state.
Does Maryland honor concealed carry permits from other states?
Gun owners who are traveling while carrying their firearms must be aware of the laws governing concealed carry in other states. One thing firearm owners need to know is whether a state offers concealed carry reciprocity—that is, does the state you’re traveling in honor your concealed carry permit from the state in which you live?
This is important to know, because law enforcement officers in a state can arrest someone carrying illegally in that state even if they are permitted to carry back home.
As the NRA reports, Maryland does not recognize any state’s concealed carry permits. That means that if you’re coming to Maryland, you’re legally prohibited from carrying your gun here. If you’re a visitor to Maryland, ahe police pull you over, or stop you on the street, and you’re carrying a concealed weapon with your permit from back home, it doesn’t matter if you passed the permit test with flying colors—you’ll be arrested.
Real-world cases: Maryland gun law convictions
The law is clear about what is and isn’t prohibited under Maryland gun regulations. Still, plenty of people break these laws every year.. A few examples from recent news reports:
- Earlier this year, a man in Mount Rainier, Maryland, was convicted of possession of a gun by a felon. Along with a drug possession, he received 126 months in prison followed by five years of “supervised release.”
- Last year a state senator from Delaware was caught with a handgun in Salisbury Regional Airport. He managed to avoid a criminal conviction by taking a “probation before judgment” deal.
- A few years ago a Baltimore man was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for an illegal gun possession.
- In 2008, a man was sentenced to 188 months in prison—over fifteen years—for possessing a gun illegally.
- In February of this year a man was arrested in Aberdeen, Maryland for carrying a gun illegally.
Clearly, the conclusion is simple: Breaking gun laws really isn’t worth the risk, in Maryland or anywhere else.
Have you been charged with a gun crime of any kind? You should call Maryland gun crime defense lawyer Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291. Randolph Rice can help you to figure out your next move and fight for your rights in court. Call and schedule your free consultation today.