Maryland has no “right to bear arms” granted in its constitution.

*NOTE: Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision on NYSRPA v. Bruen, “May Issue” states must affirm the right to bear arms in public, marking the end of these subjective and unconstitutional permitting schemes. Now these states are scrambling to figure out how to curtail the decision by passing new laws to effectively make it difficult, or even outright illegal, to conceal carry in public. For that reason, things are moving too fast to keep these specific states updated. Please be vigilant in staying updated with your state laws.


Maryland is a may-issue state with concealed weapons permits issued at the state level. A permit to purchase, a background check and firearms registration are required to buy a handgun from a private individual. Open and concealed carry are legal in Maryland only for Maryland Wear/Carry Handgun Permit (WCHP) holders, applicants must be at least 21. Permits are issued to residents and non-residents. Maryland does not honor permits from any other states. 

Reciprocal Carry

Maryland does not have a statutory reciprocity provision and does not recognize permits issued in any other state.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

A person to whom a permit is issued or renewed shall carry the permit in the person’s possession whenever the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun. You must present Your permit on demand.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

It is illegal to carry any loaded firearm in any vehicle in Maryland, regardless of whether You have a permit. Maryland generally bans the carrying of firearms without a permit. Someone without a permit may only transport a handgun if it is unloaded and secured in an enclosed case or holster, and may only transport the handgun to or from: the place of purchase or repair, Your home or business, a shooting range, shooting event, or hunting activity.

NFA Items

Maryland permits ownership of automatic firearms, SBSs, and SBRs, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. The law is still silent in regards to DDs and AOWs. MGs must be registered with the Secretary of State Police within 24 hours of acquisition, and must be re-registered annually. Hunting with suppressors is legal.

Self-Defense Laws

Maryland does not have a Castle Doctrine or SYG law, however Maryland courts have consistently recognized a right of self-defense similar to a castle doctrine law. Because there is no statute to explain when the use of deadly force is appropriate, there is uncertainty over the details of when deadly force may be used, and Maryland only allows the use of deadly force in narrow circumstances. There is no duty to retreat when in Your home. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death or SBI.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Maryland has no laws prohibiting the carrying of firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol. You can carry in a restaurant that serves alcohol. Places like Fridays or Chili’s unless they have a “No Gun Sign,” then You are prohibited from carrying into the establishment. This does not include a bar or the bar area of a restaurant. You can carry your firearm into a restaurant that serves alcohol, but you are prohibited from consuming alcohol while carrying a firearm.

Open Carry

There is no statute in Maryland law that prohibits a Maryland license holder from carrying a handgun openly. The minimum age for open carry is 18.

Assault Weapons Ban

It is illegal to possess an assault weapon, unless it was possessed before October 1, 2013 or the individual received a certificate of possession from the Maryland State Police prior to October 1, 2013. Assault weapons may not be sold or transferred to any person other than a licensed gun dealer or any individual who is going to relinquish it to the police.

Under Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act, certain models of firearms are banned as assault pistols and assault long guns. It is illegal to possess an assault weapon or a copycat weapon with two or more specified features (folding stock, grenade/flare launcher, or flash suppressor) unless owned before October 1, 2013, or received through inheritance from a lawful possessor and not otherwise forbidden to possess.

Universal Background Checks

Maryland requires that all sales and transfers of handguns or assault weapons, even between private parties, go through a FFL who must conduct a background check. Background checks are not required for private sales of long guns.

Permit To Purchase Handguns

Maryland requires a permit in order to purchase handguns. You must pass a background check and complete a 4-hour safety course in order to obtain a permit to purchase handguns. Active duty or retired law enforcement officers or military members are exempt from this law and may purchase handguns without obtaining this permit.

High-Capacity Magazine Ban

Maryland bans the intrastate manufacture, sale, and transfer of magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Note that possession of high-capacity magazines is legal, and Maryland residents can possess high-capacity magazines they lawfully owned before 10/1/13. Maryland residents can also purchase or import high-capacity magazines from out of state. These may not, however, be transferred to a subsequent owner unless done so outside the state of Maryland.

Waiting Period

Maryland imposes a seven (7) day waiting period before purchasing any firearm other than a rifle or shotgun.

Pending Court Case

Note that on 2/4/16 a federal court cast doubt on the constitutionality of Maryland’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, suggesting that these items may be protected by the Second Amendment, and that the government has a high burden to prove that these laws are constitutional. However, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals recently overturned the 2016 federal court decision. Unless and until the U.S. Supreme Court rules otherwise, Maryland’s Firearms Safety Act remains in force.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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