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Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanors

Maryland prohibits the sale or other transfer of a “regulated firearm” (handgun or assault weapon) to, or possession of a firearm by, any person “convicted of a disqualifying crime.”1 A person “convicted of a disqualifying crime” is also prohibited from possessing a standard rifle or shotgun.2

A “disqualifying crime” is generally defined as:

  1. a crime of violence in Maryland or another state; or
  2. any Maryland-classified misdemeanor that carries a statutory penalty of more than two years.3

State law also specifies that the term “convicted of a disqualifying crime” includes: (i) a case in which a person received probation before judgment for a crime of violence; and (ii) a case in which a person received probation before judgment in a “domestically related crime,” but does NOT include a case in which a person received a probation before judgment for assault in the second degree, unless it was domestically related, or that was expunged under a certain section of Maryland law.4

 Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by people convicted of certain domestic violence misdemeanor offenses.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders

In Maryland, people who are subject to a “non ex parte civil protective order” are prohibited from possessing a handgun or assault weapon.5 Moreover, state law prohibits people from selling, renting, or transferring a handgun or assault weapon to a person who is subject to a current “non ex parte civil protective order” issued pursuant to Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.6  Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by people subject to certain domestic violence-related protective orders.

Closing the Boyfriend Loophole

“Domestically related crimes”7 are between the following individuals. A person is also eligible to receive a domestic violence order of protection if he or she falls into the following categories.8

  • A current or former spouse;
  • A cohabitant
  • A person related to the respondent by blood, marriage, or adoption;
  • A parent, stepparent, child, or stepchild of the respondent or the person eligible for relief who resides or resided with the respondent or person eligible for relief for at least 90 days within 1 year before the filing of the petition;
  • A vulnerable adult;
  • An individual who has a child in common with the respondent;
  • An individual who has had a sexual relationship with the respondent within 1 year before the filing of the petition; and
  • An individual who alleges that the respondent committed, within 6 months before the filing of the petition, any of the following acts against the individual:
    • Rape or a sexual offense, or attempted rape or sexual offense.

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders Are Issued

A final domestic violence protective order issued under Maryland Code Ann., Family Law § 4-506 must order the person subject to the order to surrender to law enforcement any firearm in his or her possession, and to refrain from possession of any firearm for the duration of the protective order.9 Law enforcement receiving a firearm lawfully surrendered must transport and store the firearm safely while the protective order is in effect.10 Maryland law addresses the retaking of possession of the firearm at the expiration of a protective order.11

Removal or Surrender of Firearms When a Person is Convicted of a Domestic Violence Crime

In 2018, Maryland enacted a law that requires a person convicted of a disqualifying crime to surrender any firearms, if the court has found that the crime was “domestically related.”12 When a person is charged with such a crime, the state’s attorney must provide the person with a notice that a person convicted of such a crime is prohibited from possessing firearms. When a person is convicted of or pleads guilty to a domestic violence-related crime, the court must order the person to surrender his or her firearms within 2 business days after the conviction to a law enforcement agency or a federally licensed firearms dealer. The person may designate a representative to transfer their firearms.13 The Police Training and Standards Commission, in consultation with the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, is required to develop a training curriculum to ensure use of best practices in investigating compliance with these requirements.14

Removal or Surrender of Firearms at the Scene of a Domestic Violence Incident

Maryland allows a law enforcement officer responding to an alleged domestic violence incident to remove a firearm from the scene if he or she: 1) has probable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has occurred; and 2) observed the firearm on the scene during the response.15 The officer must provide information to the owner regarding the process for retrieving the firearm and must provide safe storage for the firearm during any related domestic violence legal proceeding.16 The owner may resume possession of the firearm at the conclusion of legal proceedings related to the domestic violence incident, unless ordered by a court to surrender the weapon.17

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  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-133(b)(1), (c), 5-134(b)(2).[]
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-205.[]
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(g).[]
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub Safety §§ 5-101(b-1).[]
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(b)(12).[]
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(b)(10).[]
  7. (Md. Code Ann., Pub Safety §§ 5-101(b-1); Md. Family Law Code Ann. §§ 6-233.[]
  8. Md. Family Law Code Ann. § 4-501(m).[]
  9. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(f).[]
  10. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1(a).[]
  11. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1.[]
  12. 2018 Md. Chap. 251.[]
  13. Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-234.[]
  14. Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 3-207.[]
  15. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(a).[]
  16. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(b).[]
  17. Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(c).[]