Handgun Qualification License
A person may purchase, rent, or receive a handgun only if the person is not prohibited from purchasing or possessing a handgun under state or federal law, and:
- Possesses a valid handgun qualification license issued by the Secretary of State;
- Possesses valid credentials from a law enforcement agency or retirement credentials from a law enforcement agency;
- Is an active or retired member of the armed forces and possess a valid military ID; or
- Is purchasing, renting, or receiving an antique, curio, or relic firearm as defined by federal law.1
The Secretary must issue a handgun qualification license to a person who the Secretary finds:
- Is at least 21 years old;
- Is a resident of Maryland;
- Has demonstrated satisfactory completion, within three years prior to the submission of his or her application of a firearms safety training course approved by the Secretary, that includes: 1) A minimum of four hours of instruction by a qualified handgun instructor; 2) Class instruction on state firearm law, home firearm safety, and handgun mechanisms and operation; and 3) A firearms orientation component that demonstrates the person’s safe operation and handling of a firearm; and
- Based on an investigation, is not prohibited by federal or state law from purchasing or possessing a handgun.2
The Secretary must apply to the Central Repository (meaning the Criminal Justice Information System Central Repository of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services) for a state and national criminal history records check for each applicant for a handgun qualification license.3 The information obtained from the Central Repository is confidential and may not be disseminated.4
Within 30 days of application, the Secretary must issue either a handgun qualification license or a written denial of the application that contains the reason the application was denied and a statement of the applicant’s appeal rights.5
A handgun qualification license expires 10 years from the date of issuance and may be renewed.6
A handgun qualification license may be revoked by the Secretary upon a determination that the licensee is no longer qualified. A person holding a license that has been revoked must return the license within five days after receipt of the notice of revocation.7
A person whose application for a handgun qualification license is denied or whose handgun qualification license is revoked may submit a written request to the Secretary for a hearing within 30 days after the date the written notice of the denial or revocation was sent. A hearing must be granted by the Secretary within 15 days after the request and must be held in the county of the legal residence of the applicant or licensee.8
In addition, Maryland requires that purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)9 first complete the state’s application form.10 If the transfer is approved, the person has 90 days to complete the purchase.11 See the Background Checks in Maryland section for further information.
As of October 1, 2013, firearm applications must contain an affirmation that the applicant12:
- Is at least 21 years old;
- Has never been convicted of a “common law crime” and received a term of imprisonment over two years;
- Has never been convicted of a disqualifying crime;
- Is not a fugitive from justice;
- Is not a habitual drunkard;
- Is not addicted to a controlled dangerous substance or is not a habitual user;
- Does not suffer from a mental health disorder as defined by Maryland law and does not have a history of violent behavior against themselves or another person;
- Has never been: 1) Found incompetent to stand trial; 2) Found “not criminally responsible” due to mental health issue; 3) Voluntarily admitted for more than 30 consecutive days to a state facility; 4) Involuntarily committed to a state health facility; or 5) Admitted to a mental health facility because of an emergency evaluation or, if so admitted, possesses a certificate from the facility that he or she is capable of possessing a regulated firearm without “undue danger” to himself, herself or another person;
- Is not under the protection of a guardian appointed by a court (except for case in which appointment of a guardian is solely a result of a physical disability);
- Is not a respondent against whom: 1) A current non ex parte civil protective order has been entered under § 4-506 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code; or 2) An order for protection has been issued by a court of another state or a Native American Tribe and is in effect;
- If under age 30 at the time of application, has not been adjudicated delinquent by a juvenile court for an act that would be a disqualifying crime if committed by an adult; and
- Has completed a certified firearms safety training course that the Police Training Commission conducts or that meets the standards that the Police Training Commission establishes.13
The application must also contain a copy of the applicant’s handgun qualification license and the date and time that the firearm applicant delivered the completed application to the prospective seller or transferor.14
For further information on Maryland’s gun safety training requirements, please consult the Maryland Firearms Safety Training Website.
See our Licensing policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(c).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(d).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(1), (2).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(f)(6).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(h)(1).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(i).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(k).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-117.1(l).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r).
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-123(b).
- Md. Code Ann. Pub. Safety § 5-118.
- See Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 3-207 for information on the Police Training Commission’s powers and duties.
- Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-118.