See our Gun Dealers policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Federal law requires firearms dealers to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), although resource limitations prevent ATF from properly overseeing all its licensees.
Any person in Maryland engaged in the business of selling, renting, or transferring state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 must have a Maryland firearms dealer’s license.2 A separate license is required for each place of business where regulated firearms are sold.3 Prospective dealers may only obtain such a license if they are not prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal or state law, as outlined in the Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Maryland section.4
As of October 1, 2013, the Secretary of State Police (Secretary) must disapprove an application for a dealer’s license if the Secretary:
- Determines that the applicant supplied false information or made a false statement; or
- Receives a letter from the applicant’s licensed attending physician that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and is a danger to the applicant or to another.5
The Secretary also must disapprove such an application if the Secretary determines that the applicant intends that a person who is not eligible to be issued a dealer’s license or whose dealer’s license has been revoked or suspended:
- Will participate in the management or operation of the business for which the license is sought; or
- Holds a legal or equitable interest in the business for which the license is sought.6
If the Secretary disapproves of an application for a dealer’s licensee, the Secretary must notify the applicant in writing of the disapproval of the application and the reason the application was denied.7
The Secretary may suspend a dealer’s license if the licensee is not in compliance with the record keeping and reporting requirements of Maryland law, which are described in detail below. The Secretary may lift a suspension after the licensee provides evidence that the record keeping violation has been corrected.8
A regulated firearms dealer’s license is valid for one year, and may be renewed for a term of one year or will expire on the first June 30 following its effective date.9
A dealers is required to “display conspicuously” his or her license and any other licenses required by law at the dealer’s place of business.10
A licensed dealer must keep records of all receipts, sales, and other dispositions of firearms affected in connection with the licensed dealer’s business.11
The records must include:
- The name and address of each person from whom the dealer acquires a firearm and to whom the dealer sells or otherwise disposes of a firearm;
- A precise description, including make, model, caliber, and serial number of each firearm acquired, sold, or otherwise disposed of;
- The date of each acquisition, sale, or other disposition; and
- Any other information required by regulations adopted by the Secretary.12
The Secretary must adopt regulations specifying the time period and form in which records are to be kept.13
When a firearms business is discontinued and succeeded by a new dealer, the records required to be kept under the above provisions must reflect the business discontinuance and succession and must be delivered to the successor dealer.14
A dealer must respond within 48 hours after receipt of a request from the Secretary for information contained in the required records when the information is requested in connection with a bona fide criminal investigation.15
The Secretary must inspect the inventory and records of a licensed dealer at least once every two years, and may inspect the inventory and records at any time during the normal business hours of the licensed dealer’s business.16
For laws applicable to both licensed and private firearm sellers, please see the Private Sales in Maryland section.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-106(a).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-106(b).
- Note that the state prohibitions for firearms dealers are defined somewhat differently than those for firearms transferees, and there appear to be no dealer prohibitions specifically addressing persons who have previously been adjudicated delinquent. See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-107(b)(4).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(a)(1)-(3).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(a)(4).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-110(b).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-114(a)(2).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-111(a).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-113(a). For information on the suspension or revocation of a regulated firearms dealer’s license, see Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-114, 5-115 and 5-116. For further information about dealer licenses, see Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.13 – 29.03.01.16.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(1).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(2), (3).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(a)(2).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(c).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(d)(1).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-145(f).