Transporting Firearms in Maryland: Understanding MD Gun Laws

5 min read

gun laws in the state of Maryland
gun laws in the state of Maryland

Transporting firearms in Maryland is a challenge. The state is known for its strict laws and regulations for gun owners.

Whether you're an avid hunter, a shooting sports enthusiast, or someone simply looking to transport a firearm from one place to another, understanding Maryland’s laws is essential.

Failure to comply with these regulations can lead to severe penalties, including arrest and criminal charges.

Maryland Firearm Law

Maryland has some of the harshest firearm laws in the United States. These laws regulate the purchase, possession, and transportation of handguns and other firearms within the state.

Maryland requires individuals to obtain a Handgun Qualification License (HQL) before purchasing a handgun. This license mandates background checks, fingerprinting, and a firearms safety training course.

Long guns such as rifles and shotguns are also subject to Maryland's firearm regulations. While the purchase of long guns does not require an HQL, buyers must still undergo a background check and comply with federal laws.

Transportation of firearms is tightly controlled to prevent unlawful use. Firearms must be transported unloaded and in a secure, locked container, separate from any ammunition.

Violating these transport regulations can result in criminal charges, legal issues, and significant penalties.

People Prohibited From Transporting Firearms in Maryland

In Maryland, certain individuals are prohibited from transporting firearms due to various legal restrictions. Understanding who falls into these categories is essential to ensure compliance with state laws and avoid severe legal consequences.

Convicted Felons

Individuals who have been convicted of a felony are prohibited from possessing or transporting firearms. This prohibition extends to all types of firearms, including handguns, rifles, and shotguns.

Convicted felons found in possession of a firearm can face harsh penalties, including imprisonment.

Persons with Certain Misdemeanor Convictions

People convicted of certain misdemeanors involving violence or domestic abuse are also prohibited from transporting firearms. This includes those with convictions for assault, battery, and other violent crimes.

Those Under Restraining Orders

Individuals subject to restraining orders, particularly those related to domestic violence, are not allowed to transport firearms. These orders are put in place to protect victims and prevent further violence or intimidation.

Individuals with Mental Health Issues

Persons who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution or adjudicated as mentally incompetent are forbidden from transporting firearms in Maryland.

Drug and Alcohol Abusers

Individuals with a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be prohibited from transporting firearms if deemed a risk by the court. This includes those with multiple DUI convictions or drug-related offenses.


Except in specific circumstances, such as supervised hunting or shooting sports, minors under the age of 21 are generally prohibited from transporting handguns.

Legally Transporting Firearms

Legally transporting firearms in Maryland requires strict adherence to state laws to ensure safety and compliance. Here are the key guidelines to follow:

Secure Transport

When transporting a firearm in Maryland, the firearm must be unloaded and securely stored. This means placing the firearm in a locked container or the trunk of the vehicle.

Maryland law requires that the firearm and ammunition be kept separate during transport to prevent unlawful use.


Transporting a handgun involves additional precautions. The handgun must be unloaded and placed in a locked container or the trunk. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to severe penalties, including arrest and criminal charges.

Exceptions to the Law

There are specific exceptions under Maryland law that allow individuals to transport firearms under certain conditions.

For instance, you can transport a firearm to and from a gun range, hunting area, or a place of repair. During these instances, the gun must still be unloaded and properly secured.

Vehicle Transport

When transporting firearms in a vehicle, the firearm should be placed in the trunk or a locked compartment far away from the driver. If your vehicle does not have a trunk, the firearm should be placed in a locked container in the rear of the vehicle, not in the glove box.

Legal Possession and Permits

Ensure you have the proper permits if required. For example, possessing a Handgun Qualification License (HQL) is necessary for transporting handguns. If you conceal carry, have your Wear and Carry permit on your person.

Always carry the relevant documentation to prove you are legally transporting the firearm.


Ammunition must be transported separately from the firearm. This means storing it in a different compartment or a locked container. Combining ammo with a gun during transport is considered unlawful.

Unlawful Transportation of Firearms in Maryland

Unlawful transportation of firearms in Maryland occurs when individuals fail to comply with the state's stringent firearm laws.

This includes transporting a loaded firearm, failing to store the firearm in a locked container, or keeping the gun and ammo together.

Additionally, transporting a firearm without the necessary permits or while prohibited from possessing firearms can lead to severe legal consequences.

Such violations are considered serious offenses and can result in arrest, hefty fines, and potential imprisonment.

Maryland’s criminal law under Section 4-203 explicitly outlines these prohibitions, and any person caught unlawfully transporting firearms risks significant repercussions and a permanent criminal record.

Legal Exceptions

Maryland provides specific legal exceptions for the transportation of firearms. These exceptions allow individuals to transport firearms under certain conditions without facing legal penalties.

  1. Traveling to and From Specific Locations: You are allowed to transport a firearm when traveling to and from a gun range, hunting area, shooting competition, firearms training course, or a place of repair. The firearm must remain unloaded and properly secured during transport.

  2. Relocating Residences: When moving to a new residence, you can transport your firearms as long as they are unloaded and securely stored in a locked container or the trunk of your vehicle.

  3. Law Enforcement and Military Personnel: Active duty law enforcement officers and military personnel are exempt from certain transportation restrictions while performing their official duties.

  4. Firearms Dealers and Manufacturers: Licensed firearms dealers and manufacturers are permitted to transport firearms in the course of their business activities.

  5. Antique Firearms and Replicas: Antique firearms and replicas, which are not designed to fire modern ammunition, are generally exempt from the standard transportation regulations. However, they must still be transported in a safe and secure manner.

  6. Possessing a Carry Permit: Individuals with a valid Maryland Wear and Carry Permit are allowed to transport a handgun, provided they comply with the conditions of their permit.

Transportation of a Firearm Into and Out of Maryland

When transporting a firearm into or out of Maryland, you must obey both state and federal regulations. Firearms transported across state lines must be unloaded and securely stored in a locked container with ammunition stored separately.

Federal law under the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) allows for the interstate transportation of firearms as long as the individual is legally permitted to possess firearms in both the origin and destination states.

Potential Penalties

The penalties for unlawful transportation of firearms in Maryland are severe and can have long-lasting ramifications.

Criminal Charges and Fines

Misdemeanor charges may result in fines up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. Felony charges can carry even harsher penalties, including higher fines and longer prison sentences.

Loss of Firearm Rights

A conviction for unlawful transport can lead to the loss of the right to possess firearms. This includes revocation of any existing permits and disqualification from obtaining future permits.

Permanent Criminal Record

A conviction for unlawful transportation of firearms will result in a permanent criminal record. This can affect various aspects of life, including employment opportunities, housing, and the ability to obtain loans or professional licenses.

Vehicle Forfeiture

In some cases, vehicles used in the unlawful transportation of firearms may be subject to forfeiture. This means the state can seize and retain the vehicle involved in the offense.

Legal Costs

Legal fees, court costs, and potential restitution payments can add up quickly, placing a substantial financial strain on the accused.