Buying Ammo and Guns in Maryland

This piece discusses the firearms and ammunition laws in the state of Maryland. To do so, the piece starts with a discussion of the ammo laws, with a focus on the process of having ammunition shipped to a residential address in MD. Then, the piece tackles the firearms laws of the state, first going through the purchasing process and then discussing the legalities of carrying a firearm in Maryland. To wrap things up, we provide some resources that we think are useful to folks who want to legally purchase, own, and carry guns and ammo in Maryland.

This piece is not intended as legal advice. Instead, we hope that you use this as a basis for information that you then use to make your own, informed decisions as a responsible gun owner.

Like most states, Maryland has preemption. This means that the gun laws made at the state level are those that apply in the state as a whole, and localities cannot make their own, stricter, gun laws. This simplifies life for gun owners in the state, as it means that once you understand the state laws, that understanding can be applied to the state as a whole.

Maryland’s firearms laws are fairly restrictive. While it is still possible to buy, sell, and own firearms and ammo in the state, Maryland does present a fair few paperwork hoops to jump through, in addition to a number of outright bans: these legal processes and bans make the state restrictive in terms of its firearm and ammunition laws.

Ammo Laws/Buying Ammo in Maryland 

First, we will cover the ammo laws of MD.

On their surface, Maryland’s ammunition laws are not especially strict. But there are two major bans to keep in mind. First, the state bans explosive ammunition. Second, there is a prohibition against the ownership of large quantities of reloading materials such as gunpowder: this last ban would be especially onerous for people who want to reload to save money, in that buying in bulk usually means substantial savings on brass, gunpowder, and primers.

Aside from those bans, Maryland follows the federal government’s lead on ammo purchasing. This involves two sets of requirements. First, anyone buying ammo for a rifle or shotgun has to be eighteen years of age or older, and twenty-one or older to purchase handgun ammo. Secondly, ammunition buyers cannot be prohibited persons. The ATF defines prohibited persons, generally, as people who have been convicted of felonies or domestic violence, those ruled mentally unfit in court, and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.

It is generally legal to have ammunition shipped to a residential address in Maryland. Aside from the federal requirements, carriers can impose their own rules, such as asking for an adult with a valid ID to be present to sign for a package that contains ammunition.

Maryland does have a magazine ban, too: it is illegal to buy new magazines with over ten rounds of capacity. The bans on magazines, and some ammo types, and a restriction on reloading supplies make Maryland’s ammunition laws fairly strict. But, it is still generally possible to have ammunition shipped to a residential address in the state.

Gun Laws/Buying Guns in Maryland 

Next, we will do the same analysis for Maryland’s gun laws.

Maryland’s firearm laws are strict and vary from one category of firearm to another. To be able to buy a handgun, for example, the buyer has to get an additional permit from the state, which involves a fee, a photo, and a background check. This permit does not exempt folks from the usual background check to buy a firearm at an FFL.

Additionally, the state has an assault weapons ban, which prohibits some firearms by name, and many by a list of features. Generally, AR and AK-type firearms are banned in the state, as are most other semi-automatic centerfire rifles, shotguns, or pistols.  In case that ban was not strict enough, the State Police have the power to designate, at their discretion, new guns to ban at any time. The current list can be found online. There is no gun seizure law, but the state, in the above-linked ban, mandates that people register any assault weapons that they already possess.

Assuming the firearm you want to buy has not been banned by the legislature or the state police department, and you have a permit in hand if you plan to buy a handgun, the local FFL will process both a Form 4473 and a form of payment to sell a firearm.  But the buyer might take a firearm home on the day of purchase in Maryland: the state has a seven-day waiting period to take possession of so-called assault weapons (which are banned anyway) and handguns.

The same is true of private sales: the seven-day waiting period applies to private sales of handguns, and the state also mandates that private sellers run background checks through an FFL.

Once someone does manage to acquire a firearm in Maryland, there are quite a few restrictions on carrying firearms in the state. Both open and concealed carry of weapons are allowed in the state, but one has to get a permit to do so. State law is silent about the open carry of long guns, however.  The state maintains a website that not only has its permitting application to carry a firearm but, importantly, has a list of the handguns that are allowable for purchase in the state.

The Maryland concealed carry permit is somewhat widely accepted, but in few of the states to the Northeast.

Like most states, Maryland has a list of places where firearms cannot be carried at all, including:

  • Public and private K-12 Schools

  • Government buildings or leased spaces

  • Polling places

  • Private property with No Guns signs

  • Within 1000 feet of a demonstration with a police warning

Maryland is strange in this regard: its list of prohibited places is shorter than even the most permissible states. This adds to the patchwork nature of Maryland’s gun and ammo laws. Getting ammunition is not terribly strict in the state, but gun buying is among the most difficult in the nation thanks not only to bans, but to the fact that the police can update the bans without consulting the people or the legislature, which is highly unusual considering that, under most understandings of American law, police have the power to enforce existing laws, and not to pass their own determinations of legality.

The state does not have any major firearms manufacturers, though Benelli does seem to have a corporate office in the state.

Sales Tax on Guns/Ammo in Maryland 

Maryland has a general sales tax rate of 6%, and localities do not impose their own special taxes at the local level. This means that that 6% rate applies in the state as a whole, so shopping various FFLs for lower taxes does not make sense in Maryland.

More Resources:

  • The ATF maintains a list of every FFL in the country, including in Maryland. The list is kept updated and can be used to find a local gun store. Gun stores are usually Type One or Type Two FFLs. 

  • is an awesome tool for finding gun ranges. Take some time messing with the city, zip code, and mileage filters to find ranges anywhere in the country. 

  • There are a number of well-rated gun stores in the state. 

  • Maryland Shooter’s Forum is an active forum for folks who can help navigate the complexities of MD’s gun laws, and also provide insider knowledge to local events. 

Maryland Gun Law FAQ:

Yes, but there are some hoops to jump through first. The state requires a permit to purchase a handgun. There is also an approved list of handguns that you must pick from when buying a new handgun in the state. After you have the gun, then you can apply for a permit.

Maryland forbids explosive ammunition and the possession of large quantities of gunpowder. Aside from those restrictions, as long as the buyer is not a prohibited person, and is at least 18 for long gun ammo, or 21 for handgun ammo, it is legal to have ammunition shipped to a home in Maryland. The carrier might ask for ID from an adult to accept the package.

In a word: no. There are several gun bans including an assault weapons ban. What’s worse: the police can add guns to the ban without consulting the legislature, a major departure from how the rule of law is usually conducted in the US.

If you already live in Maryland and owned it before the passage of the assault weapons ban, it’s possible to register the AR with the state and keep it. It cannot be sold or transferred, though, and no one can buy new ones in the state. 

It is still legal to buy certain handguns, rifles, and shotguns in Maryland. There is, however, an assault weapons ban, a de-facto handgun ban (until a specific handgun is added to an approved list), and several restrictions on carry within the state.