In 2022, after the Supreme Court ruled on the NYSRPA v Bruen case, Maryland transitioned from a “may-issue” state to a “shall-issue” state, joining 40 other states with similar laws. With that substantial change, here is an overview of Maryland’s gun laws in 2023.
Shall-Issue vs. may-issue
In a shall-issue state, an individual may acquire a license to purchase a gun provided that they pass the state’s background check.
In a may-issue state, authorities have the discretion to deny a gun permit, even if the applicant passes a background check, if they have concerns about the individual outside of the scope of the background check.
In essence, the Supreme Court decision made it easier for individuals to purchase guns, even if they have a history of concerning behavior, but do not have a disqualifying criminal record.
All gun transactions in Maryland, even when a private individual is selling a personal gun, must go through a licensed dealer or a law enforcement agency, who conduct background checks.
Disqualifying factors include felony or misdemeanor convictions that resulted in prison sentences, a crime conviction involving a controlled substance and/or a history of violence.
Wear/carry handgun permits (WCHP)
If someone holds a wear/carry handgun permit, they may open-carry or conceal-carry a firearm. WCHP permits are available to anyone 21 or older (though people as young as 18 can obtain a permit if carrying a firearm is necessary for their job), who have completed a 16-hour gun safety training course.
An eight-hour refresher course is required to renew a WCHP.
Maryland does not honor permits from other states. If a non-resident wishes to carry a firearm, they must complete Maryland’s training course.
All handguns must be registered with the State Police.
Places where guns aren’t permitted
Even if you have a WCHP, there are still places where carrying a gun, loaded or unloaded, is prohibited in Maryland. The list includes schools, childcare facilities, legislative buildings, aboard an aircraft, within 1,000 feet of public demonstrations, in or around public buildings and property, state parks and forests and highway rest areas (with the exception of firearms safely secured inside one’s vehicle).
Additionally, there may be posted gun restrictions in bars and restaurants where alcohol is available, sporting events, gambling facilities, places of worship and polling places.
Maryland has a “duty to retreat” if you encounter danger outside of your home, property, vehicle or workplace. One may defend themselves with deadly force in public only if they are facing imminent, serious injury or death.
Maryland is a Castle Doctrine state, meaning If you are in danger in your home, vehicle, on your property or at your workplace, you may stand your ground and defend yourself with deadly force.
This is simply an overview. There are more laws and regulations regarding handguns that one should seek out if they intend to purchase a firearm. Your local sheriff’s office can provide a full breakdown.