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Why it’s important to understand Maryland’s handgun laws

People might not realize it, but the handgun laws here in Maryland underwent something of a major change back in October 2013, such that the conditions under which a person can purchase, transfer or even rent a handgun have changed considerably.

In recognition of this fact and in an effort to help people avoid inadvertently breaking the law, today’s post will discuss some of these changes.

Handgun Qualification Licenses

As of October 1, 2013, any Maryland resident looking to purchase, transfer or rent a handgun is required to secure what is known as a Handgun Qualification License or HQL.

In general, those looking to apply for an HQL must first submit to a fingerprint-based background check. Furthermore, he or she must prove that sometime in the three years prior to the submission of their application that they satisfactorily completed a Firearms Training Safety Course.

This course must consist of a minimum of four hours of instruction by a Qualified Handgun Instructor and cover the following topics:

  • An overview of state firearms laws
  • An overview of home firearm safety
  • An overview of handgun mechanisms and operation
  • A operation and handling demonstration

It’s important to understand that those state residents who possessed a handgun prior to October 1, 2013 do not need to secure an HQL, and that the application fee for an HQL is $50 (fingerprint fees not included) for the initial application and $20 for renewals.

We will continue to explore what our state law has to say about possession of a handgun in a subsequent post.

Those facing weapons charges should understand that they face very serious consequences if convicted, including a lengthy jail sentence. In light of this reality, those facing these charges should give serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional who can defend their rights every step of the way as soon as possible.

Source: Department of Maryland State Police, “Handgun qualification licenses,” Accessed Feb. 9, 2015

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