Maryland’s gun laws are strict. They are among the toughest laws in the nation.
Maryland regulates the sale, transfer, rent and possession of regulated firearms. All private transfers of regulated firearms must be processed through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency which must conduct a background check on the buyer.
As governor, Martin O’Malley signed legislation in 2013 that banned the sale of most semiautomatic rifles and ammunition magazines holding more than 10 bullets; required new gun buyers to provide digital fingerprints to the Maryland State Police; limited firearm purchases by the mentally ill and required individuals interested in buying a firearm other than a hunting rifle or shotgun to obtain a license.
Handguns and automatic weapons must be registered with the state police.
The Maryland State Police also maintain a registry of regulated firearms that are allowed to be sold within the state. A regulated firearm, under Maryland law, means a handgun or a firearm that is any one of the specified assault weapons or their copies, regardless of which company produced and manufactured that assault weapon.
But, not all firearms are regulated. Maryland does not regulate the sale of rifles or shotguns and no permit is required to purchase a rifle or shotgun that is not an assault weapon.
It’s no wonder that the Free State laws take a dim view of the possession of unregulated firearms. This means that Maryland is one of the toughest states in the U.S. in terms of the restrictions and punishments imposed for gun crime offenses.
Most of those charged with gun crime possession in Maryland are arrested with an unlawfully purchased gun or a firearm that is unregistered.
Guns purchased from an unregistered source are often cheaper and easier to find. A study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that almost 80 percent of the people serving time in jail for gun possession offenses obtained their firearm from either family members, friends or illegally through “street” sources. Only 12 percent of the guns confiscated in gun possession cases were purchased in stores or pawn shops.
According to Maryland law on possession of an unregistered firearm, possessing any destructive device, including a machine gun, sawed-off shotgun, sawed-off rifle or silencer can result in 10 years in prison without parole.
Federal law also calls for penalties for unregistered firearms. Section 36 of the National Firearms Act states that “a person must not sell, purchase, possess or use a firearm that is not registered.” The maximum penalty for an unregistered firearms charge is 10 years imprisonment if the firearm is a prohibited firearm or pistol or five years imprisonment in any other case.
A first offender in Maryland convicted of carrying a handgun is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces a maximum potential jail term of three years. Using a firearm in connection with another crime carries a mandatory minimum term of five years incarceration and a maximum term of 20 years of jail time.
One strategy in fighting gun crime charges in Maryland is to get the charges placed on the “Stet Docket.” This docket is a way to get charges thrown out of court. The Stet Docket means that the case will become and remain inactive or that the offender must complete agreed upon conditions and if successfully completed, the charges will be automatically dismissed.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain your options if you are charged with a gun crime over possession of an unregistered/unregulated firearm. The Law Office of Thomas J. Maronick handles criminal law cases. If you need to speak to an attorney who is well-versed in criminal law matters, contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law firm at 410.244.5068 or via the website for a free consultation.