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Published on 9/12/2023, 2:14:00 PM

Maryland Gun Law Update | Increased penalties for Maryland gun crimes

The Maryland legislature recently passed Senate Bill 1, dubbed the "Gun Safety Act of 2023." and House Bill 824. Many citizens are wondering what kinds of changes these bills will enact. This article will breakdown each of the upcoming changes to Maryland's gun laws, all of which are set to take effect in October of 2023.

Increased penalties for gun crimes

The Gun Safety Act has the practical effect of increasing penalties for gun crimes related to possession of firearms. Specifically, the maximum penalty of carrying or transporting a handgun will be increasing from three years to five years. This will bring wear carry transport offenses in line with firearm prohibition charges, which currently carry five year maximum sentences.

Changing the landscape of firearm disqualifications

In the past firearm disqualification under Public Safety Article 5-133(b) was limited to those who were convicted of "Disqualifying Crimes".

This means that under the previous Maryland law, a person couldn't have a handgun if they were convicted of:

  • a crime of violence;
  • a violation classified as a felony in the State; or
  • a violation classified as a misdemeanor in the State that carries a statutory penalty of more than 2 years.

Under the new version of Maryland, a person will now be prohibited if they are:

What if I got a PBJ for a disqualifying offense?

A probation before judgment will not disqualify a person from firearm carrying so long as the offense was not a domestic assault

Limiting Carrying of Firearms in Maryland

The Gun Safety act has the practical effect of neutering the current Maryland Carry license and imposing a host of new limitations on citizens who are trying to legally carry a firearm in Maryland.

The Gun Safety act's most profound impact on carrying firearms is that carrying firearms in all buildings will be banned by default unless the building owner or agent provides express consent to carry in the building. This would likely require signage that public carry is allowed, which is something that many businesses are not expected to post.

While the act lowers the cost associated with applying for and renewing firearm licenses, it makes it more difficult to qualify for a license. For example, being on supervised probation for a DWI will prohibit a person from maintaining a firearm carrying license under the new law.

Changes to firearm education requirements

The new law also enhances the firearm training requirements for those who are seeking firearm licenses in Maryland, now requiring sixteen (16) hours of in person instruction with a new set of curriculum that will be distributed by the State.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

When does the Gun Safety Act of 2023 take effect?

The Gun Safety Act of 2023 will take effect on October 1, 2023.

Who is challenging the Gun Safety Act of 2023?

There are several ongoing legal challenges to the Gun Safety Act of 2023, including Novotny v. Moore (1:23-cv-01295)

Is the Gun Safety Act of 2023 Constitutional?

It is possible that some parts of the Gun Safety Act of 2023 may violate constitutional law as it relates to the carrying of firearms in self defense. The United States Supreme Court recently released a landmark opinion in New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn., Inc. v. Bruen which created a new test to analyze the legality of limitations on firearm carrying licensing.

The Supreme Court of the United States is expected to expand on this decision in United States v Rahimi, which might have effects on the current gun laws in Maryland too.

How will the Gun Safety Act affect my criminal charges?

If you have criminal charges after having a gun in your car in Maryland which date from before October 1, 2023, you will not be affected by these law changes. If you receive charges after October 1, 2023, you could face up to five years in jail for those charges under the new laws.