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“Private” firearms sellers (persons who are not licensed dealers) must process transfers1 of “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)2 through a licensed dealer or designated law enforcement agency, who conducts a background check.3 In addition, no regulated firearm transfers may be made to any person whom the private seller knows or has a reasonable cause to believe is a prohibited purchaser under state law.4 See the Maryland Prohibited Purchasers Generally and Maryland Minimum Age to Purchase/Possess sections for detailed information.

For laws requiring sellers to record and report firearm sales, see the section entitled Retention of Sales / Background Checks Records in Maryland. See the Maryland Design Safety Standards for Handguns for laws limiting the types of handguns that may be sold in Maryland.

Private sales of standard rifles and shotguns are not required to be processed through a licensed dealer, and purchasers are not subject to background checks for these weapons.


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  1. A “secondary sale” in Maryland is defined as the sale of a regulated firearm in which neither party to the sale has a federal or state firearms dealer license, deals in firearms as a regular course of trade or business with the principal objective of earning a profit through the repeated purchase or resale of firearms, or is in the business of repairing firearms. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(t).[]
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r).[]
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-124(a).[]
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-134(b).[]