Maryland Wear and Carry Permits
Last updated 11/28/2023
We've brought a lawsuit against the enforcement of parts of SB 1 and other current carry restrictions. Learn about Novotny v. Moore here.
See our guide here for how newly enacted laws affect your right to keep and bear arms.
- Permit Eligibility
- Application Submission
- Handgun Qualification License Issuance
- Permit Restrictions
- Places/Circumstances Off-Limits with a Handgun
Maryland has a blanket ban on the carriage and transport of handguns within the state, with exceptions. One of those exceptions is for those who've been issued a license, known as a Wear and Carry Permit, which is required to be able to lawfully carry a handgun in public. State law prohibits the open carry of handguns for permit holders, so they must be carried concealed. This permit is described in State law under Maryland Public Safety Article §§ 5-301 through 5-314 and is issued by the Maryland State Police (MSP) through its Licensing Division (MSPLD). The Licensing Division follows its own Standard Operating Procedures for how permits are issued and managed. Applicants for a permit must satisfy several requirements before being considered qualified. The process typically takes between 60 to 90 days for most applicants. Maryland permits are valid for two years plus until the applicant's birth month for the first permit and for three years for renewals.
(a) Subject to subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the Secretary shall issue a permit within a reasonable time to a person who the Secretary finds:
(1)(i) is at least 21 years old; or
(ii) is a person who is a member of the armed forces of the United States, the National Guard, or the uniformed services;
(2)(i) has not been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor for which a sentence of imprisonment for more than 1 year has been imposed; or
(ii) if convicted of a crime described in item (i) of this item, has been pardoned or has been granted relief under 18 U.S.C. § 925(c);
(3) has not been convicted of a crime involving the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance;
(4) is not on supervised probation for:
(i) conviction of a crime punishable by imprisonment for 1 year or more;
(ii) a violation of § 21-902(b) or (c) of the Transportation Article; or
(iii) violating a protective order under § 4-509 of the Family Law Article;
(5) is not presently an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of a controlled dangerous substance unless the habitual use of the controlled dangerous substance is under legitimate medical direction;
(6) does not suffer from a mental disorder as defined in § 10-101(i)(2) of the Health--General Article and have a history of violent behavior against the person or another;
(7) has not been involuntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days to a facility as defined in § 10-101 of the Health--General Article;
(8) is not a respondent against whom:
(i) a current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered under § 4-506 of the Family Law Article;
(ii) a current extreme risk protective order has been entered under § 5-601 of this title; or
(iii) any other type of current court order has been entered prohibiting the person from purchasing or possessing firearms;
(9) except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, has successfully completed prior to application and each renewal, a firearms training course approved by the Secretary that
meets the minimum criteria specified in subsection (a-1) of this section; and
(10) based on an investigation:
(i) has not exhibited a propensity for violence or instability that may reasonably render the person's possession of a handgun a danger to the person or to another; and
(ii) is not otherwise prohibited by State or federal law from purchasing or possessing a handgun.
Applicants under the age of 30 face extra scrutiny, as imposed by § 5-306(c)
(c) An applicant under the age of 30 years is qualified only if the Secretary finds that the applicant has not been:
(1) committed to a detention, training, or correctional institution for juveniles for longer than 1 year after an adjudication of delinquency by a juvenile court; or
(2) adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for:
(i) an act that would be a crime of violence if committed by an adult;
(ii) an act that would be a felony in this State if committed by an adult; or
(iii) an act that would be a misdemeanor in this State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years if committed by an adult.
Violations of § 4-104 can also prevent issuance of a carry permit, as outlined in § 5-306(d)
(d)(1) The Secretary may not issue a permit to a person if the person:
(i) has been convicted on or after October 1, 2023, of a second or subsequent violation of § 4-104 of the Criminal Law Article; or
(ii) has been convicted on or after October 1, 2023, of a violation of § 4-104 of the Criminal Law Article if the violation resulted in the use of a loaded firearm by a minor causing death or serious bodily injury to the minor or another person.
(2) Subject to paragraph (1) of this subsection, the Secretary may not issue a permit to a person who has been convicted on or after October 1, 2023, of a violation of § 4-104 of the Criminal Law Article for 5 years following the date of the conviction.
Maryland Wear and Carry Permit Training must be completed before submission of an application. Under Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306(a-1) and COMAR Sec. 29.03.02.05, these classes must incorporate the curriculum provided by the Maryland State Police and be taught entirely in person (virtual classes are prohibited). Unless otherwise exempt from the training requirements, an applicant must get this training from an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and complete a 16-hour training course for an initial application with a minimum 70% accuracy rating by the applicant in the live fire portion of the class. These classes often run anywhere from $250 to $400 and up. An 8-hour course will be required upon renewal of an issued permit. Training certificates are valid for up to three years from course completion.
Who is exempt from the training?
Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-306(b)
(b) An applicant for a permit is not required to complete a certified firearms training course under subsection (a) of this section if the applicant:(1) is a law enforcement officer or a person who is retired in good standing from service with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State, or any local law enforcement agency in the State;
(2) is a member, retired member, or honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard;
(3) is a qualified handgun instructor; or
(4) has completed a firearms training course approved by the Secretary.
Note that law enforcement officers of another State are NOT exempt, only federal and Maryland law enforcement officers are exempt. The Maryland State Police have a list of Instructors HERE, but we also encourage you to visit our 2A-Friendly Businesses section for available lessons from entities that support MSI by becoming Corporate Members. Click on the "Firearms Instruction" tab.
Maryland State Police Wear and Carry Training Course Curriculum
Wear and Carry Permit Course of Fire (See Basic Practical Handgun Course on page 3)
Certified Qualification Score Sheet
Qualified Handgun Instructors are defined in Md. Public Safety Art. § 5-101(q) as:
(q) “Qualified handgun instructor” means a certified firearms instructor who:(1) is recognized by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training commissions;(2) has a qualified handgun instructor license issued by the Secretary; or(3) has a certification issued by a nationally recognized firearms organization.
They are further described in Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) Title 29, Subtitle 3, Chapter 29.03.01, §§ 29.03.01.37 - 29.03.01.41.
A current firearms instructor who'd like to become an MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and provide the Wear and Carry Course can submit their credentials through the MSP's website HERE. Once a certificate is returned by the MSP, the instructor will be able to provide Maryland courses and will be listed publicly on their website. Basically, any NRA-certified instructor for the Basic Pistol class can qualify.
Applications for Wear and Carry Permits can only be submitted online via the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal. Applications can be started at any time but may be submitted only after all requirements are fulfilled and the application is complete. All applicants must have a valid email address, as the State Police do not accept paper applications. Here are the steps:
- As outlined in the Training section, complete the training or prepare proof of training exemption (scanned copies of documents in filetypes .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, .doc, and .docx)
- Acquire LiveScan fingerprinting for a Wear and Carry Permit (AKA Handgun Permit) Application - Prints for other purposes (i.e., HQL) are not accepted
Fingerprints are valid for one year after they're taken
From MSP's Fingerprinting Page:
Wear and Carry: Below is the information that you should provide to the LiveScan technician for fingerprinting:
Agency Authorization Number: 9400082484
Agency ORI Number: MDMSP6000
Reason Fingerprinted: MD Public Safety Article, Section 5-305
- Make an account on the State Police's Licensing Portal
- Tab over to "HGP Applications" and select the green "START NEW HGP APPLICATION" button
- Under "Handgun Permit Category," select "Personal Protection," (unless of course you are applying as related to law enforcement) then underneath select which type of application this is (New, Renewal, Modification, etc... MSP describes the application types HERE)
- Complete the "Application Questionnaire" in full. At Question 15, "Reason for a Handgun Permit," enter "Self-Defense."
- Continue filling out the application in full
- Provide LIVESCAN fingerprints TCN/PCN code (The prints MUST be for a Wear and Carry Permit (AKA Handgun Permit) and from an authorized entity by the MD Dept. of Public Safety and Correctional Services. LiveScan prints for other purposes do not suffice and the prints are not currently interchangeable.)
- At the "Documents" section, upload your passport-style photo, and certificate of training completion or exemption. We recommend attaching a scanned copy of your Livescan receipt.
- There is no need to upload documentation substantiating "self-defense"
- Complete the application, pay the requested fee using a credit card, and submit.
NOTE: For any applicant who has not received their account activation/confirmation email or their forgot password email in the Licensing Portal: Click "LOG IN" on the Portal home page and then click "FORGOT PASSWORD?" on the Account Log In page. Then enter your email address and click "SUBMIT". You should receive your respective email shortly thereafter.
The State Police may take up to and could exceed 90 days before deciding on whether or not to issue a permit. Md. Public Safety § 5-306(a) states that the Maryland State Police shall issue a permit within a "reasonable timeframe" and § 5-312(a)(2) provides:
(2) A person whose application for a permit or renewal of a permit is not acted on by the Secretary within 90 days after submitting the application to the Secretary may request a hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings by filing a written request with the Secretary and the Office of Administrative Hearings.
In their Frequently Asked Questions section of the Wear and Carry Permit page, the State Police say:
Please note, wear and carry permit applications can take up to 90 days to process. If your application has been submitted for more than 90 days, please contact the Handgun Permit Unit for further instructions.
Also, Processing of Handgun Permit Applications SOP 29-19-004 at .05 Procedures, A. Responsibilities 3. states:
The Handgun Permit Unit personnel will:
a. ensure all permits are issued in accordance with: 18 U.S.C. §922(g) (1-9), Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, Title 5, Sub-Title 3, Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article §5-133 and the Code of Maryland Regulations, Title 29.03.02.
b. within three business days of receipt, applicable applications will be forwarded to the Administrative Investigation Unit, to conduct a background investigation, as required in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, §5-306.
c. ensure all applicants meet the requirements outlined in the Annotated Code of Maryland, Public Safety Article, §5-306.
d. ensure approval or denial of all initial applications within 90 days of the receipt of an accepted application.
e. ensure approval or denial of all renewal applications within 45 days of the receipt of an accepted application.
f. track all applications, initial and renewal, to ensure issuance within 90 days or 45 days respectively.
g. act as the liaison between the Licensing Division, the Handgun Permit Review Board* and the Office of Administrative Hearings.
h. maintain all records, and track all decisions issued by the Handgun Permit Review Board* and the Office of the Administrative Hearings.
*The Handgun Permit Review Board no longer exists. It was legislatively repealed in 2018.
Maryland Code, Public Safety, § 5-306(d) provides:
(d) The Secretary may issue a handgun qualification license, without an additional application or fee, to a person who:(1) meets the requirements for issuance of a permit under this section; and(2) does not have a handgun qualification license issued under § 5-117. 1 of this title.
If you do not already have a Maryland Handgun Qualification License (HQL), the license Maryland requires to be able to purchase handguns, you can request one from the MSP at no added cost, without needing to provide fingerprints again, and without further training after being issued a Wear and Carry Permit. The State Police have a separate portal for applying for the HQL here: https://emdsp.mdsp.org/egov/Home.aspx.
Create an account and then when applying, make the following selections pictured below and click "Start Application"
With respect to the Wear and Carry Permit, on 7/22/2022, the State Police issued an update on their efforts to meet the increased demand for permits and address many of the common problems encountered with incomplete applications.
As of 7/7/2022, except for the restriction, "NOT VALID WHERE FIREARMS ARE PROHIBITED BY LAW," any restrictions printed on the reverse side of previously-issued permits are no longer in effect and are no longer being issued prospectively. See Maryland State Police Licensing Division Advisory LD-HPU-22-003 "W&C Permit Modifications".
MSI recommends applying for a $20 modification for a card explicitly without restrictions. Carry permit holders are still exceedingly rare in Maryland and law enforcement agencies do not regularly encounter them. Being wrongfully detained is still a risk.
For those denied outright by the MSP, or if a permit contains unacceptable restrictions, options are available to seek the issuance or modification of a permit. Within 10 days of denial, one must appeal in writing to either the MSP to ask for an "Informal Review" or to the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Appeals may also be taken to the OAH within 10 days of any decision of the MSP after an Informal Review.
Maryland State Police Informal Review
The MSP will allow applicants to present any further information regarding their denial to more senior management within the Licensing Division. Unless provided significant new information at that time, it is unlikely MSP's initial decision will be affected.
Maryland OAH Formal Appeal
OAH hearings are run by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) and are quasi-formal trials with rules and procedures. These proceedings are "de novo" which means that additional evidence can be submitted at these hearings. In an OAH proceeding, the focus is on whether the MSP’s decision should be sustained and the applicant bears the burdens of proof and persuasion. The ALJ gives deference to the MSP’s determination. An attorney is not legally required but is necessary as a practical matter. Decisions of the ALJ can be appealed to circuit court.
Terms and renewals of permits are described under the Public Safety Article in § 5-309.
Term of permit(a) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, a permit expires on the last day of the holder's birth month following 2 years after the date the permit is issued.
- MD Wear and Carry Permits are not valid where firearms are prohibited by law (see rear of permit). The State Police are continuing to create permits with this restriction and will not remove the text, despite the General Assembly's removal of the statutory authority to restrict when permits are valid when it passed SB 1 and HB 824
- On public school property - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-102
- Preschool or prekindergarten facilities and the grounds thereof - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Private primary or secondary schools and the grounds thereof - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Health care facilities as defined in § 15-10B-01(G)(1),(2),(3), and (4) of the Insurance Article - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Any building or any part of a building owned or leased by the state or a local government - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
Note that a building owned or leased by the State or a local government "must display a clear and conspicuous sign at the main entrance of the building indicating that it is not permissible to wear, carry or transport a firearm" in the building or part of the building.
- Buildings of public or private institutions of higher education, as defined in § 10-101 of the Education Article - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Electric plants or electric storage facilities, gas plants or nuclear power facilities, as defined in § 1-101 of the Public Utilities Article - - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- CURRENTLY ENJOINED FROM ENFORCEMENT Locations licensed to sell or dispense alcohol for on-site consumption - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Locations licensed to sell or dispense cannabis for on-site consumption - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Stadiums - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Museums - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Racetracks - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- Video lottery facilities as defined in § 9-1A-01 of the State Government Article (mainly casinos) - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111
- CURRENTLY ENJOINED FROM ENFORCEMENT Private buildings of all kinds unless the owner or owner's agent has posted a "clear and conspicuous sign stating that it is permissible to wear, carry or transport a firearm" on such property or has given a person "express permission" to do so on the property - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 6-411
- Private dwellings, except with "express permission" of the owner (or owner's agent), excluding common areas in a condominium, as defined in § 11-101 of the Real Property Article, property of a cooperative housing corporation other than a unit as defined in § 5-6B-01 of the Corporations and Associations Article, or common areas of a multifamily dwelling as defined in § 12-203 of the Public Safety Article - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 6-411
Exceptions for places off-limits under § 4-111 and § 6-411 (newly enacted in 2023 by SB 1)
Section 4-111 exceptions:
- On private property, by persons authorized by the owner or lessee to wear and carry or transport a firearm for the purpose of employment as (1) a security guard OR (2) for the purpose of protecting any individual or property at the location with an express agreement between the parties, remuneration, or compensation.
- On public property, at locations being used with the permission of the person or governmental unit that owns, leases, or controls the location for organized shooting activities for educational purposes, historical demonstrations using firearms, or hunting or target shooting
-Firearms that are carried or transported in a motor vehicle if the firearm is locked in a container or handguns worn, carried, or transported in compliance with any limitations imposed under § 5-307 of the Public Safety Article by those who permits to wear, carry or transport handguns have been issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article. This does not affect transport of firearms under current law in areas unaffected by SB 1.
-Law enforcement officials or police officers as defined under § 3-201 of the Public Safety Article
-Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard, or the Uniformed Services while on duty or traveling to or from duty
-Members of an ROTC program while participating in an activity for an ROTC program
-On-duty employees of a law enforcement agency authorized by the agency to possess firearms on duty or whose duty assignment involves the possession of firearms
-Correctional officers or wardens of a correctional facility in the State
-Railroad police officers appointed under Title 3, Subtitled 4 of the Public Safety Article
-Employees of an armed car company, if acting under the scope of employment and has valid permits to wear, carry, or transport handguns issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article
-Off-duty law enforcement officials or retired law enforcement officials in good standing from the United States, the State or another state, or a local unit in the State or another state who possesses a firearm if their badge or credential is carried in compliance with the requirements of the badge or credential and the firearm is carried or possessed by the official or person is concealed from view. (LEOSA)
Section 6-411 exceptions:
- Law enforcement officers and police officers, as defined in Section 3-201 of the Public Safety Article (not retired LEOSA),
- Members of the Armed Forces of the United States, while on duty or traveling to and from duty,
- Correctional officers
- The wearing, carrying or transporting on a portion of real property subject to an easement, a right of way, a servitude or any other property interest by (1) the holder of the interest or (2) the guest or assignee of the holder of the interest.
- When a handgun is not concealed from view - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 5-307(b)(1)
"Printing" or momentary, incidental display of the handgun is excepted from this requirement under MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-111(h)
- With the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another person - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-203(a)(1)(iv)
- While in the commission of a crime of violence or felony - MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-204
- While under the influence of alcohol or drugs - MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-314
- When not in physical possession of the issued Maryland permit - MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-308
- Aboard any vehicle or inside any building under the control of the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) - MD Code, Transportation, § 7-705(b)(6)
- CURRENTLY ENJOINED FROM ENFORCEMENT Within 1,000 feet of a demonstration in a public place after being notified by law enforcement that guns cannot be carried - MD Code, Criminal Law § 4-208
- In or around State-owned and State-leased public buildings and grounds - COMAR 04.05.01.03. See the jurisdiction of the Department of General Services under MD Code, State Finance and Procurement, § 4-601(a)(5)
- Inside State legislative buildings - MD Code, State Government, § 2-1702(e)(2)
- Aboard aircraft engaged in certified air commerce - MD Code, Transportation, § 5-1008
- An innkeeper may refuse to provide lodging or services to or may remove from a lodging establishment an individual where the innkeeper reasonably believes the individual possesses property that may be dangerous to other individuals, such as firearms or explosives - MD Code, Business Regulation, § 15-203(a)(6)
- Maryland Port Administration Property - COMAR 11.05.07.04
- On World Trade Center Baltimore Property defined in COMAR 11.05.05.02 - COMAR 11.05.05.08
- Captain, master or any person on board or having control of any dredge boat may not have or permit to be kept on the dredge boat more than two shotguns not larger than a number ten gauge and using shot not larger than number one - MD Code, Natural Resources, § 4-1013
- Chesapeake Forest lands, except at designated shooting ranges and when legally hunting - COMAR 08.01.07.14
- State Forests, except at designated shooting ranges and when legally hunting - COMAR 08.01.07.04
- State Parks, except at designated shooting ranges and when legally hunting - COMAR 08.07.06.04
- State Highway rest areas - COMAR 11.04.07.12 (the regulation bans display and discharge).
- Any facility under the jurisdiction of the Maryland Racing Commission - COMAR 09.10.03.03(A)(10)
- At a facility under the control of the Maryland Stadium Authority - COMAR 14.25.02.06
Such facilities are defined in COMAR 14.25.01.01
- At a State museum unless authorized for an exhibition that in the museum director's judgment promotes the purposes of the museum - COMAR 34.04.08.04
- At a Video Lottery Facility as defined by MD Code, State Government, § 9-1A-01(aa) - COMAR 36.03.10.48
- In community adult rehabilitation centers - COMAR 12.02.03.10(h)(9)
- In child care centers, except for small centers located in residences - COMAR 13A.16.10.04
- If under a proclaimed State of Emergency by the Governor when the Governor has issued orders, rules, or regulations controlling the possession, carry, use, and/or sale of firearms - MD Code, Public Safety, § 14-303(b)(8)
Looking for federal laws? Check out the USA page from Handgunlaw.us.
Additionally, MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-209 gives local jurisdictions narrow authority to create their own prohibitions on where firearms may be carried or possessed and by whom. Check local jurisdictions' codes for any restrictions. MSI maintains an informational page containing links to county and local codes and ordinances HERE. Permit holders should be aware of MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-206, which guides how law enforcement officers may determine whether an individual is armed legally.
Unlawfully carrying a handgun in violation of MD Code, Criminal Law, § 4-203(a)(1)(i) is also a strict liability crime, which means there is no requirement that the individual knowingly or willfully carried in violation of the law. For more on this, read our article on the recent Maryland Court of Appeals case Lawrence v. State HERE.
Be aware that First Degree Assault includes the illegal threat with a firearm (sometimes called informally "brandishing"). See MD Code, Criminal Law, § 3-202(a)(2). Of course, if your life is truly imminently at risk or you are at imminent risk of great bodily harm, and you can meet the other elements of lawful self-defense (including the duty to retreat if outside the home, if a safe avenue of retreat is available), as defined in the MD case law, your attorney could assert a complete defense to the First Degree Assault charge.
The Rule: Don't pull it, and don't threaten with it, unless you would be otherwise justified in actually firing it. For First Degree Assault, the prosecutor need only show that the defendant used a firearm with an intent to frighten, that the defendant had the present ability to bring about physical harm and that the victim was aware of the threat. See Synder v. State, 210 Md.App.370, 382 (2013). First Degree Assault is a felony in Maryland and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. The use of, or the threat of lethal force, should always be the last resort.
For more info on laws important to gun owners in Maryland, visit our Maryland State and Local Weapons Laws page.
Maryland does not currently recognize the permits of any other state or American territory. MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-303 states:
A person shall have a permit issued under this subtitle before the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun.
Put simply, unless one has a permit issued by the Maryland State Police, they cannot carry a handgun legally in Maryland (not counting law enforcement or those who may carry a firearm under LEOSA). Residents of other states can apply for a Maryland, and those applications are now being treated no differently than they are for Maryland residents. But, again, applicants must be trained (or training exempt) by a MSP Qualified Handgun Instructor and must be LiveScan fingerprinted by an entity in Maryland. Many states do recognize Maryland permits and some states, like Pennsylvania, will issue a non-resident permit to a Maryland resident who holds a Maryland Wear and Carry permit. MSI strongly recommends obtaining such permits. See the HandgunLaw.us page for Maryland for more information on reciprocity.
It was not until 1809 that Maryland prohibited any carry of weapons, but that legislation criminalized only the carrying of a weapon “with the intent feloniously to assault any person.” Archives of Maryland 570:94. Any carry, concealed or open, with no permit required, was still legal as long as it was without felonious intent. In 1831, in reaction to the Nat Turner Rebellion in Virginia, Maryland enacted a statewide law that requires free blacks (only) to obtain a license from a local court for possession or carry (open or concealed) of firearms. Archives of Maryland 213:448. Maryland did not ban any type of carry for other citizens until 1866, when it banned concealed carry, but still allowed open carry. Archives of Maryland 389:468-9. This law was likely passed as a result of the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865, and the abolition of slavery at the 1864 Maryland Constitutional Convention. Since blacks could no longer be directly legislated against, the 1831 law was dropped and the concealed carry prohibition was made general – but could be selectively enforced.
In 1884, Maryland changed its law to once again permit concealed carry, providing that concealed carry was illegal only when arrested and charged with another crime. Archives of Maryland 390:522-3. That approach likewise allowed discriminatory enforcement. The most likely reason for this enactment was that it was thought that 1866 total ban was unconstitutional. In 1904, after more than 300 years of legal concealed carry for non-black Maryland citizens, with no permit required, concealed carry is again made illegal in Maryland, but this time with the exception for “carrying such weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger.” Archives of Maryland 209:4025-6. The exception again allowed selective enforcement, while keeping it from being a total ban. It was not until 1972 that open or concealed carry of handguns was banned without a permit from the State Police. Archives of Maryland 708:48-51. This law was likely a reaction to the Baltimore Race Riots of 1968, and is strikingly similar in its licensing requirements to the 1831 legislation that licensed carry by freed blacks.
The common thread that runs throughout this history is racist fears. This history matters legally because, as discussed above, the appropriate test under the Second Amendment is one of text, history and tradition. That is precisely the test adopted by the Supreme Court in Bruen. Maryland’s history is typical of gun control nationwide. See Clayton E. Cramer, The Racist Roots of Gun Control, 4 Kan. J.L. & Pub. Pol’y 17, 20 (1995) (“The various Black Codes adopted after the Civil War required blacks to obtain a license before carrying or possessing firearms or bowie knives .... These restrictive gun laws played a part in provoking Republican efforts to get the Fourteenth Amendment passed.”). That reality was also noted in Heller, 554 U.S. at 614–16, and by Justice Thomas in concurring in McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. at 844-847. That is a legacy of shame. Law-abiding persons of all races, not just the privileged few, should be allowed to protect themselves legally.
You can read the bill file from the 1972 handgun control legislation that ushered in Maryland's modern restrictions on carrying handguns in public HERE.
*Prior to Bruen, the following groups were issued permits under Maryland's unconstitutional "good and substantial reason" scheme. These restrictions and requirements are no longer in effect.*
Businesses Owners and Certain Endorsed Employees
Business owners were typically issued permits upon demonstrating that they operate an active business. This usually requires the applicant to have a business bank account and can show that it is conducting business transactions and deposits. An applicant might also be someone who had been endorsed by their employer for a permit based on the nature of the work they do, such as picking up or depositing cash or other goods and valuables.
Assumed Risk Professionals
Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other professionals who could be targeted because of the dangers involved with their work.
Top-Secret Clearance Holders
Those with active top-secret government clearances were generally eligible so long as they were able to prove they held such a clearance.
Those who could document (with police reports or protective orders) that they were specifically at risk of imminent danger or targeted by others wishing to do them harm.
Bail Bondsmen, Security Guards, Special Police, Private Detectives, Armored Car Drivers, and Private Security Officers
Those with these tasks and jobs were typically eligible for carry permits so long as they were able to verify with documentation the work and duties they perform.
NOTE: The cases here refer to the Handgun Permit Review Board, a quasi-judicial body created by the 1972 legislation that established MD's permitting system. The board's existence was eliminated as a result of legislation in 2018. MSI had requested a veto from Governor Larry Hogan, who denied the request.
Snowden v. Handgun Permit Review Board, 413 A.2d 295, 45 Md.App. 464 (Md. App. 1980) - Upholding a reading of "good and substantial reason" to mean that the applicant bears the burden of demonstrating specifically why they need to carry a handgun more than their personal anxiety or say-so. Abrogated by Bruen.
Scherr v. Handgun Permit Review Board, 163 Md.App. 417, 880 A.2d 1137 (Md. App. 2005) - Re-affirming the Court of Special Appeals' prior holdings in Snowden, and additionally rejecting 2nd Amendment arguments in support of the right to keep and bear arms. Abrogated by Bruen.
Williams v. State, 417 Md. 479, 10 A.3d 1167 (Md. 2011) - Holding that regulations on carrying firearms outside the home are "outside of the scope of the Second Amendment, as articulated in Heller and McDonald". Abrogated by Bruen.
Woollard v. Gallagher, 712 F.3d 865 (4th Cir. 2013) - Upholding Maryland's requirement that an applicant for a carry permit demonstrates a "good and substantial reason" for issuance of a permit. Abrogated by Bruen. Also inconsistent with the Matter of William Rounds, No. 1533 (Md. App. 2022).
Whalen v. Handgun Permit Review Board (Md. App. 2020) - Unreported opinion where the Court of Special Appeals agreed with a lower court that plaintiff did not establish a 2nd Amendment claim before the Handgun Permit Review Board in his initial appeal and could not bring it before the court. The court also agreed with the board's finding that the applicant lacked a "good and substantial reason" for issuance of a permit. This case was dismissed.
Call v. Jones III (4th Cir. 2022) - Pre-Bruen challenge filed against Maryland's may-issue carry permitting scheme. The case was jointly moved as moot by plaintiffs and the State of Maryland since the State had come into compliance with the Supreme Court's holding in Bruen and the case was dismissed as such.
New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U.S. ___ (2022) - Finding that the 2nd and 14th Amendments protect an individual's right to carry handguns publicly for self-defense and in so doing, deeming New York's "proper cause" requirement for issuance unconstitutional. This is indistinguishable from Maryland's "good and substantial reason" requirement. Importantly, the majority in Bruen also finds that the tiered scrutiny, interest balancing approach used by lower courts in deeming the constitutionality in 2nd Amendment challenges is inappropriate:
Today, we decline to adopt that two-part approach. In keeping with Heller, we hold that when the Second Amendment's plain text covers an individual's conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct. To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest. Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this Nation's historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this Nation's historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual's conduct falls outside the Second Amendment's "unqualified command." Konigsberg v. State Bar of Cal.,366 U.S. 36, 50, n. 10 (1961)
New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen, No. 20-843, 13 (U.S. Jun. 23, 2022)
Maryland's subjective carry permit requirements were previously upheld in Woollard v. Gallagher under the two-part test dispensed with in Bruen.
In the Matter of William Rounds, No. 1533 (Md. App. 2022) - The Maryland Court of Special Appeals applies Bruen to hold that Md. Public Safety § 5-306(a)(6)(ii), the "good and substantial reason" requirement for issuance of a permit, is unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment of the United States Constitution.
In the Matter of Edward Whalen, No. C-03-CV-21-000853 (Balt. Co Cir.Ct) Dismissed as Moot - Challenge of applicant's denial of a permit for lack of "good and substantial reason." Denial of permit reversed in light of Bruen.
6/29/22 - Petitioner's Motion for Summary Reversal
6/30/22 - Petitioner's Notice of Supplemental Authorities
7/12/22 - Reply to Petitioner's Motion for Summary Reversal
7/12/22 - Petitioner's Consent To Dismissal On Grounds Of Mootness
Maryland Shall Issue, Inc. et al. v. Montgomery County (MoCo Cir.Ct) (Ongoing) - Includes a 2nd Amendment challenge to Montgomery County's various firearms prohibitions in 2021's Bill 4-21 and County Code Section 57-11.
-MSI Guide: Maryland State and Local Weapons Laws
-HandgunLaw.us - Maryland
-List of prohibitors from firearms possession under Maryland State law
-List of prohibitors from firearms possession under Federal law
-Maryland Criminal Law, Title 3. Other Crimes Against the Person, § 3-202 Assault in the first degree
-Maryland Criminal Law, Title 4. Weapons Crimes
-Maryland Public Safety Article, Title 5. Firearms
-Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) - Title 29. Maryland State Police, Subtitle 03. WEAPONS REGULATIONS
-Slip Opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, 597 U.S. ___ (2022)
-July 6th, 2022 Advice Letter from the Maryland Office of the Attorney General in regards to the legality of "good and substantial reason"
-Maryland State Police Licensing Division
-Maryland State Police Licensing Division - Wear and Carry Permits
-Maryland State Police - Processing of Handgun Permit Applications SOP 29-19-004
-Maryland State Police Licensing Portal
-Maryland State Police Licensing Portal User Guide
-Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division
-List of LiveScan Fingerprint Providers
-List of Maryland State Police Qualified and Certified Handgun Instructors
-Wear and Carry Permit Course of Fire
-Certified Qualification Score Sheet
Maryland Shall Issue® (MSI) is an all-volunteer, non-partisan organization dedicated to the preservation and advancement of gun owners' rights in Maryland. It seeks to educate the community about the right of self-protection, the safe handling of firearms, and the responsibility that goes with carrying a firearm in public. MSI is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.