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Maryland has established a handgun roster that, subject to limited exceptions, lists the only handguns that dealers or any private sellers are allowed to sell in the state.1 A handgun manufactured after January 1, 1985 that is not included on the handgun roster may not be sold or offered for sale.2

The handgun roster is compiled by the Handgun Roster Board (“Board”), an entity of the Maryland Department of State Police (“DSP”) made up of 11 members (the Secretary of the DSP and ten appointees of the Governor who are knowledgeable in the field) who hold terms of four years.3 The Board must consider the following characteristics of a handgun in determining whether it should be placed on the roster: concealability, ballistic accuracy, weight, quality of materials, quality of manufacture, reliability as to safety, caliber, detectability (vis-à-vis airport and courthouse security equipment standards), and utility for legitimate sporting activities, self- protection, or law enforcement uses.4 The Board must “consider carefully” each characteristic, and must not place “undue weight on any one characteristic.”5

The Secretary of the DSP may seek an order from a circuit court to permanently or temporarily enjoin the willful and continuous manufacture, sale, or offer for sale of a handgun that is not included on the handgun roster.6

There is evidence that legislation banning the sale of junk guns directly affects the number of firearm homicides. A 2002 study of Maryland’s junk gun ban found that the ban resulted in an 8.6% decrease in firearm homicides in the state – an average of 40 lives saved per year – between 1990 and 1998.7

Maryland’s Attorney General may also have authority to regulate junk guns and promulgate other firearms safety standards.8


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  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-404 – 5-406.[]
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-406(a)(2).[]
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-404.[]
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-405.[]
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-405(b).[]
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-406(b).[]
  7. Daniel W. Webster et al., Effects of Maryland’s Law Banning “Saturday Night Special” Handguns on Homicides, 155 Am. J. Epidemiology 406, 409-411 (Mar. 2002). Another study on Maryland’s ban showed that the law reduced the use of prohibited junk guns by criminals in Baltimore, finding that a junk gun prohibited in Maryland was more than twice as likely to be the subject of a law enforcement crime gun trace request in 15 other major U.S. cities combined than in Baltimore. Jon S. Vernick et al., Effects of Maryland’s Law Banning Saturday Night Special Handguns on Crime Guns, 5 Inj. Prevention 259, 261-263 (Dec. 1999).[]
  8. See the Maryland Consumer Protection Act, Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 13-201 et seq. For additional details, see Legal Action Project, Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, Targeting Safety (2001), available at[]