Maryland has a number of laws that regulate who may carry handguns and other dangerous weapons—and where—as well as which types of weapons are prohibited. This article summarizes these laws and the penalties for violating them.
Unless you have a Maryland handgun permit, it’s illegal to carry a handgun—either openly or concealed, on your body or in a vehicle on a public road or parking lot. But you can’t get a permit if you:
The permit requirement doesn’t apply if you’re on your own property or business. Other exceptions include law enforcement officials, supervisors who are authorized to have handguns at work, and those who are transporting unloaded handguns in enclosed cases to certain places (such as between your home and business) or for certain purposes (like target practice or gun exhibitions).
Unless you meet one of the exceptions, carrying a handgun without a permit is a misdemeanor in Maryland, punishable by 30 days to three years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250 to $2,500. The punishment increases for repeat violators or those who were carrying the weapon with the purpose of injuring someone. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-203; Md. Code, Pub. Safety § 5-303 (2019).)
Maryland also makes it a crime to carry a dangerous weapon other than a handgun concealed on your body unless you:
It’s also illegal to carry a dangerous weapon openly if you intend to hurt someone illegally with it.
The law defines dangerous weapons as including pepper mace, bowie knives, star knives, switchblades, nunchakus, brass knuckles, and razors. Although the statute doesn’t specifically mention stun guns or Tasers, a court could consider them dangerous weapons if they were used in a dangerous manner.
Unlawful carrying of a dangerous weapon is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1,000. The court must impose the longest prison sentence if the evidence showed that you were carrying the weapon in order to injure someone. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-101 (2019).)
Maryland's Red Flag Law
Under Maryland’s “red flag law,” courts may issue “extreme risk protective orders” (ERPOs) prohibiting gun possession by individuals (known as “respondents”) who’ve been identified as posing an immediate danger of injuring themselves or others with firearms. In Maryland, petitions for these orders may be filed by a range of people close to the respondents (including relatives, household members, and intimate partners), as well as law enforcement officers and certain health care professionals. If the court issues a temporary ERPO, it will only remain in effect until a hearing where the respondent can appear and contest the order. Anyone who violates an ERPO may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, or up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500 if they’ve already had a conviction for the same crime. (Md. Code, Public Safety, §§ 5-601—5-610 (2019).)
Maryland outlaws possession of firearms, knives, or any deadly weapons on public school property, except for those who:
The penalty for this misdemeanor is up to three years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-102 (2019).)
Certain types of weapons are prohibited in Maryland, including
Penalties for possessing these banned weapons range from a maximum of three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine for possession of an assault gun to a maximum of 25 years and/or a $250,000 fine for possession of a destructive device. (Md. Code, Crim. Law §§ 4-303, 4-306, 4-404, 4-405, 4-501, 4-503 (2019).)
Use of a gun while committing a violent crime or any felony is a misdemeanor, punishable by five to 20 years in prison, in addition to the penalty for the underlying crime. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-204 (2019).)
You could face a fine of up to $1,000 for the misdemeanor of leaving a loaded firearm where you know (or should know) that an unsupervised child under age 16 would get access to it. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-104 (2019).)
Counties and municipalities in Maryland may have ordinances that regulate firing guns in certain places (except at firing ranges) or possession of firearms by minors or within 100 yards of parks, schools, and some other public places. Otherwise, however, local governments may not enact new regulations (after 1984) that regulate gun possession or ownership. (Md. Code, Crim. Law § 4-209 (2019).)
You should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible if you’re facing criminal charges for weapons possession or use. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain how Maryland law applies to your situation and help you put together the strongest defense possible. And if you’ve been served with an ERPO, a lawyer can help protect your rights at the hearing and, if necessary, appeal the judge’s decision.
Look Out for Legal Changes
Because states can change their laws at any time, you may want to check the current Maryland statutes. Court decisions may also affect how laws are interpreted and applied—another reason to consult an attorney if you're concerned about actual or potential weapons charges.