Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants
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
State law specifies that “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.3
“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.4
Federal law also prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by certain domestic violence misdemeanants.
Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Restraining/Protective Orders
In Maryland, persons named as a respondent against whom a “non ex parte civil protective order” has been issued are prohibited from possessing a handgun or assault weapon.5 Moreover, no person may sell, rent or transfer 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 certain domestic violence protective order defendants.
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.7 Law enforcement receiving a firearm lawfully surrendered must transport and store the firearm safely while the protective order is in effect.8 Maryland law addresses the retaking of possession of the firearm at the expiration of a protective order.9
Removal or Surrender of Firearms When An Abuser is Convicted of a 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.”10 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 an abuser is convicted of or pleads guilty to such a crime, the court must order the abuser 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 abuser may designate a representative to transfer the firearms.11 The Police Training and Standards Commission, in consultation with the Maryland State’s Attorneys’ Association, must develop a training curriculum to ensure use of best practices in investigating compliance with these requirements.12
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.13 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.14 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.15
See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-133(b)(1), (c), 5-134(b)(2).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-205.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub Safety §§ 5-101(b-1).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(g).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-133(b)(8).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(b)(10).
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506(f).
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1(a).
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-506.1.
- 2018 Md. Chap. 251.
- Md. Code Ann., Crim. Proc. § 6-234.
- Md. Code Ann., Public Safety § 3-207.
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(a).
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(b).
- Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law § 4-511(c).