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Examining Maryland Handgun Laws & Penalties


Given the dangerousness and ease of concealment of handguns, the State of Maryland has laws in place to protect public safety. Any person who violates these handgun laws is guilty of a criminal offense and subject to serious penalties, including fines and prison time. Consequently, it is vital for any handgun owner to understand the parameters of applicable Maryland laws.

What is the Maryland Definition of a Handgun?

Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-201 provides the definition of handguns under state law. Generally speaking, this section defines a handgun as any firearm capable of being carried in a concealed fashion. Specifically, Section 4-201 includes the following firearms in the definition of a handgun:

  • Pistols;
  • Revolvers;
  • Short-barreled shotguns;
  • Short-barreled rifles; and
  • Other firearms capable of concealed carry.

Section 4-201 does exclude regular shotguns and rifles from the definition of a handgun. Moreover, antique firearms manufactured before 1899 — or replicas of antique firearms — are not considered handguns under Maryland law.

What are the Maryland Laws Concerning Handguns?

Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 4-203 establishes several relevant laws concerning handguns. Under this section, it is unlawful to have a handgun in certain locations and situations, whether openly or in a concealed fashion.

More precisely, Maryland law prohibits any person from wearing, carrying, or transporting a handgun:

  • On or about their person;
  • In a vehicle traveling on public-access roadways and parking lots;
  • At public schools or on public school property;
  • With the intent to injure or kill another person; or
  • With live ammunition loaded in the firearm.

There are several notable exceptions under Section 4-203, including but not limited to:

  • Law enforcement officers in the performance of their official duties;
  • Individuals with the proper state-issued permits and licenses; and
  • Supervisory employees engaged in the performance of work duties.

What are the Penalties for Violating Maryland Handgun Laws?

Section 4-203 also outlines the penalties for violating Maryland handgun laws. Under this section, the penalties change based on the number of previous offenses:

  • First Offense — Results in misdemeanor charges with the possibility of a prison sentence between 30 days and three years as well as criminal fines between $250 and $2,500; and
  • Second Offense — Results in misdemeanor charges with the possibility of a prison sentence between one and 10 years as well as criminal fines between $250 and $2,500.

Furthermore, Section 4-203 highlights more severe penalties for handgun offenses committed at schools or with the intent to injure or kill. In those circumstances, the perpetrator can face a prison sentence between five and 10 years as well as applicable fines.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about handgun crimes in Maryland, it can be tremendously helpful to consult with a dependable Baltimore criminal lawyer. The lawyers at Iamele & Iamele, LLP have defended many clients against criminal charges, such as handgun or other weapon crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense or other aspects of the law, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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