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Understanding Gun Charges in Maryland

gun charges

Gun laws in Maryland are some of the strictest in the country. Individuals facing gun charges are faced with some of the most severe consequences. These penalties can vary in severity depending on your criminal history, the type of firearm used, and where the crime was committed.

Understanding gun laws in Maryland and the consequences of breaking these laws is essential for every gun owner. This article will discuss Maryland’s gun laws, the penalties you face for being arrested on gun charges, and how an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges.

Maryland Gun Laws

We must understand the regulations before we delve into gun charges in Maryland and the penalties for breaking them. There are requirements for purchasing, possessing, and using firearms.

Purchasing Firearms in Maryland

There are two main classifications of guns in Maryland. Each classification has its own set of requirements that you must meet before you can purchase a firearm.

Requirements to Purchase Long Guns

These requirements pertain to shotguns and rifles that are not considered assault weapons.

  • Must be 18 years or older
  • Present your state ID
  • Must pass a background check
  • Have your fingerprints taken

Requirements to Purchase Handguns

You must meet state and federal guidelines to purchase a handgun, and there is a seven-day waiting period.

  • Must be 21 or older
  • Present your state ID
  • Must pass a background check
  • Have your fingerprints taken
  • Have a HQL (handgun qualification license)
  • Complete a firearm safety course

It’s also important to know that you must register your handgun. It is illegal to carry an unregistered firearm and can result in five years in prison.

Who Can Own Firearms in Maryland

As previously mentioned, you must pass a background check to purchase a firearm. While the majority of Maryland residents have the constitutional right to own a firearm, Maryland gun laws prohibit certain people from being able to possess firearms to protect the safety of the public. (MD Public Safety Code § 5-133)

Here are some categories of people who cannot own firearms in Maryland:

  • Convicted felons
  • Individuals who have been convicted of a violent crime
  • Fugitives from the law
  • Habitual drunkards
  • Addicts
  • Individuals who have spent time in a mental institution for more than 30 consecutive days

Prohibited Firearms in Maryland

Maryland also prohibits the sale and possession of certain firearms. It is illegal in most cases to possess, transfer, sell, or manufacture these types of firearms.

  • Assault weapons (this includes pistols and rifles)
  • Short-barreled shotguns or rifles
  • Folding pistol grip shotguns

This list may not include all prohibited weapons. Since possession of an assault weapon carries up to a ten-year prison sentence, check with law enforcement or someone with criminal law knowledge before purchasing a weapon from someone other than a regulated firearms dealer.

Carry Laws in Maryland

It’s generally illegal in Maryland to carry, wear, or transport a handgun in a public space, regardless of whether it’s on your person, concealed or open, or in your automobile. To legally carry a firearm, you must have a WCHP (Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permit). To get a carry permit, you must be 21 years old and apply for a license.

Even if you are approved for a WCHP, there are still specific locations where you cannot carry. These spaces include:

  • Public school property
  • Child care centers
  • Adult rehab facilities
  • Aircrafts
  • In government buildings
  • Within 1,000 feet of a demonstration
  • In or around public grounds or buildings that are state-owned
  • Lodging establishments
  • Dredge boats
  • State parks or forests
  • Chesapeake Forest Lands
  • Locations that federally prohibit firearms

Transporting Guns in Maryland

There are specific guidelines you must follow when transporting firearms in Maryland.

  • Handguns cannot be loaded and must be in a holster or carrying case
  • The ammunition must be stored separately
  • Neither the firearm nor the ammunition must be accessible by the driver or passenger.

Firearms should be kept in the trunk or as far from the driver’s seat as possible. If long guns are not loaded, they can be kept in the vehicle and do not need a carrying case.

How to Transport Guns Without a WCHP in Maryland

If you don’t have a WCHP, you can only transport a gun if you are:

  • Moving it from your home to a gun shop or service center
  • Moving it from your home to your business
  • Transporting it to or from a range
  • Taking part in a shooting event, tracking, hunting, or a dog obedience class
  • Transporting a gun collection from one location to another for a show

Penalties for Breaking Gun Laws in Maryland

Illegal Carry

Illegally carrying a handgun is a misdemeanor and can result in a fine of between $250-$2,500 and jail time of a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 5 years. If evidence shows you were carrying with the intent to injure someone or for repeat offenders, the most severe penalty must be imposed. (MD Code, Crim. Law § 4-203; MD Code, Pub. Safety § 5-303 (2019))

Carrying Dangerous Weapons

It is a misdemeanor to carry dangerous weapons, resulting in a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a three-year prison sentence. The longest sentence must be imposed if there is evidence showing you intend to inflict injury on someone with the weapon. (MD Code, Crim. Law § 4-101 (2019))

Possession of a Dangerous Weapon at a School

You cannot carry on school property unless:

  • You are a law enforcement
  • You are a school resource officer
  • You are the parent or visitor of a school student who is an off-duty or retired law enforcement officer.
  • You are taking part in a shooting education course
  • The school invited you to provide a weapons demonstration

This is a misdemeanor. You can face up to $1,000 in fines and /or up to three years in prison. (MD Code, Crim. Law § 4-102 (2019))

Possessing Banned Weapons

Possession of weapons such as assault weapons, machine guns, and other types of destructive devices vary in the severity of their consequences. Penalties range from $5,000 in fines and up to three years in prison for an assault firearm to a $250,000 fine and up to 25 years in prison for possessing a destructive device. (MD Code, Crim. Law §§ 4-303, 4-306, 4-404, 4-405, 4-501, 4-503 (2019))

Turn to Widder Law if You’re Facing Gun Charges in Maryland

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime with a firearm, enlisting the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible is essential. With the severity of the consequences associated with gun charges, you need the best representation to build a strong defense strategy and fight these charges.

At Widder Law, we understand how overwhelming it can be when facing criminal charges, especially if you don’t know who you can trust or where to look for help. We are committed to providing top-notch legal services and giving your case the attention it deserves.

We’re ready to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.


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