Maryland Regulated Firearms

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The Maryland Firearms Safety Act of 2013[1] was sponsored by the Senate President and established an exception to the prohibition against carrying a deadly weapon on public school property; making it a misdemeanor to possess or use specified firearm ammunition during the commission of a crime of violence; limiting the authorization for a person to wear, carry, or transport a handgun; designating specified firearms as assault weapons; prohibiting, with exceptions, a person from transporting an assault weapon into the State or possessing, selling, offering to sell, transferring, purchasing, or receiving an assault weapon; etc.

General Provisions

General Ownership Information

Q: Is the ban retroactive before 10/1/2013?

A: No, provided the banned guns were in your possession or has a purchase order for, or completed an application to purchase, in otherwise-banned configurations before October 1, 2013. This is called "grandfathering". Registration of grandfathered guns was removed in the House amendments. If you own it, or it's in MSP wait hell, or you even just have it on order (KEEP THE RECEIPT), you should be good to go. Whenever this FAQ mentions "banned", assume the gun can be grandfathered!


Q: How do I prove I owned a gun prior to October 2013?

A: You don't need to. The burden of proof is on the state. However, to quote a great man, the burden of your defense attorney is on you.


Q: Can I keep mags with a greater than 10rd capacity?

A: Yes. There is no ban on possession with magazines. They do not need to be registered. You are not able to receive >10rd mags that come with a transfer that started pre-10/1.


Q: Are there any transport issues with grandfathered guns?

A: No. The original SB281 text was ambiguous about this, but the current text makes it very clear that transport is fine.


Q: Can my kids inherit my banned firearms?

A: Yes. Inheritance is one of the carve-outs, provided the firearm was lawfully owned by the deceased. The text doesn't seem to distinguish between out of state or in-state.


Q: Can I avoid any of this with a Maryland Gun Trust?

A: Probably not. The MSP has an "interesting" take on trusts where the trustee who filled out the form is considered, for all intents and purposes, the owner.


Q: Do I need to register a regulated firearm that I bought as regulated (ie, with a form 77r) within the state of Maryland?

A: No. Registration of grandfathered guns is now gone. Note that you may be required to register your grandfathered assault weapons and handguns if you move in from out of state.


Q: Do I need to do anything if I move in from out of state?

A: Yes. You need to register all of your assault long guns and handguns with the Maryland State Police within 90 days of residency. Also be advised that assault long guns and copycats bought after or on 10/1/2013 are illegal to posses in the state of Maryland, even if you bought them out of state after that time.


Q: Can I lend a banned weapon to a friend?

A: No. The grandfathering exemption is written for the owner, and possession is otherwise prohibited.


HQL

Q: I want to buy a handgun. What do I need to do that now?

A: You need a Maryland Handgun Qualification License (HQL). To get an HQL, you need to take an approved training course (4 hours), get fingerprinted by a Livescan provider, and then fill out some paperwork online. Active or retired law enforcement and active or retired military don't need an HQL at all. You also don't need one for antiques, "curios & relics" (C&R), or inherited handguns.


Q: The training requirement seems expensive. Is there another way to deal with that?

A: There's a few ways to deal with it:

  1. If you already own a regulated firearm (assault long gun, copycat weapon, or handgun), you're exempt. Yes, you can buy a C&R handgun, and then use that to fulfill the requirement.
  2. You can take the Maryland Department of Natural Resources sponsored Maryland Hunter Safety Course or a similar course in another state.


Q: Do I need a HQL to keep my pistols?

A: No.


Q: Can I lend a handgun to a friend who does not have an HQL?

A: Yes. The MSP has stated that a bona fide loan or temporary transfer for training/recreational purposes at the range is not a transfer.


Q: Do I need an HQL to rent a handgun at the range?

A: No. The law is slightly confusing on this point, but the "rental" mentioned as prohibited by the law involves taking the handgun off the owner's premises.

Banned Firearms

Q: What's the difference between an assault weapon, assault long gun, a copy, and a copycat weapon?

A: The basic definitions:

  • Assault Long Gun: Any of the named long guns that are currently regulated. An assault long gun cannot be a copycat weapon.
  • Copy: A copy of an assault long gun.
  • Copycat weapon: A gun that fails the appropriate feature, OAL, or fixed magazine test.
  • Assault Pistol: Any of the named pistols that are currently banned.
  • Assault Weapon: An assault pistol, assault long gun, copy, or copycat weapon.


Q: What's on the list of banned "assault long guns"?[2]

A: The list as found in the law, verbatim, is below. I have added my comments in italics: A firearm that is any of the following specific assault weapons or their copies, regardless of which company produced and manufactured that assault weapon:

  • American Arms Spectre da Semiautomatic carbine (uncommon Italian 9mm rifle; SITES is the pistol version)
  • AK-47 in all forms
  • Algimec AGM-1 type semi-auto (uncommon 9mm bullpup rifle)
  • AR 100 type semi-auto (might be a repeat of the Daewoo AR-100 mentioned later)
  • AR 180 type semi-auto (semi-auto AR-18)
  • Argentine L.S.R. semi-auto (FN FAL derivative)
  • Australian Automatic Arms SAR type semi-auto (Leader Dynamics T2 Mk5 in assault rifle config; less than 2000 imported)
  • Auto-Ordnance Thompson M1 and 1927 semi-automatics (tommy guns)
  • Barrett light.50 cal. semi-auto (only the semi-auto)
  • Beretta AR70 type semi-auto (very few imported)
  • Bushmaster semi-auto rifle (this is a very specific rifle (not an AR-15 or M17S) originally manufactured by Gwinn Firearms, and is not "all Bushmaster rifles")
  • Calico models M-100 and M-900
  • CIS SR 88 type semi-auto (never imported to the US, to the best of my knowledge)
  • Claridge HI TEC C-9 carbines
  • Colt AR-15, CAR-15, and all imitations except Colt AR-15 Sporter H-BAR rifle
  • Daewoo MAX 1 and MAX 2, aka AR 100, 110C, K-1, and K-2 (may exclude the DR-200?)
  • Dragunov Chinese made semi-auto (but not the Russian version?)
  • Famas semi-auto (.223 caliber)
  • Feather AT-9 semi-auto
  • FN LAR and FN FAL assault rifle (LAR is also known as FALO heavy barrel model)
  • FNC semi-auto type carbine
  • F.I.E./Franchi LAW 12 and SPAS 12 assault shotgun
  • Steyr-AUG-SA semi-auto
  • Galil models AR and ARM semi-auto (Galil ACE and Micro don't seem to be included?)
  • Heckler and Koch HK-91 A3, HK-93 A2, HK-94 A2 and A3 (but only these specific models, apparently)
  • Holmes model 88 shotgun (I don't think these were ever made)
  • Avtomat Kalashnikov semiautomatic rifle in any format (notice that it only says rifles)
  • Manchester Arms "Commando" MK-45, MK-9 (tommy gun clone)
  • Mandell TAC-1 semi-auto carbine (I don't think these really exist)
  • Mossberg model 500 Bullpup assault shotgun (this was a very specific factory model)
  • Sterling Mark 6
  • P.A.W.S. carbine (Sterling clone)
  • Ruger mini-14 folding stock model (.223 caliber) (this was a very specific factory model)
  • SIG 550/551 assault rifle (.223 caliber) (has generally been interpreted to not include the 556 or 556R)
  • SKS with detachable magazine (this is referring to the SKS-M and SKS-D, but accidentally catches after-market detachables)
  • AP-74 Commando type semi-auto (Italian 22lr rifle; looks a bit like an M16)
  • Springfield Armory BM-59, SAR-48, G3, SAR-3, M-21 sniper rifle, M1A, excluding the M1 Garand (note that this includes the HK-91 with fixed stock)
  • Street sweeper assault type shotgun
  • Striker 12 assault shotgun in all formats (revolver shotgun; it's a destructive device now)
  • Unique F11 semi-auto type (22lr FAMAS; extremely rare in the US, if it was ever imported)
  • Daewoo USAS 12 semi-auto shotgun
  • UZI 9mm carbine or rifle (not immediately apparent if this includes the Uzi Pro)
  • Valmet M-76 and M-78 semi-auto
  • Weaver Arms "Nighthawk" semi-auto carbine (weird 9mm Uzi-like carbine; takes Uzi mags; only 850 made)
  • Wilkinson Arms 9mm semi-auto "Terry" (very limited production; magazine goes in the pistol grip)


Q: What's a copy of an assault long gun?

A: It's entirely up to MSP interpretation, perhaps with a bit of paranoia from your FFL sprinkled in. The last MSP bulletin on the subject seemed to say that complete parts interchangeability was a requirement to be a copy. There was also a very old bulletin (the infamous bulletin 96-1) that made some other claims on the topic... but it's not relied on very much these days.


Q: What are the evil features for semi-auto centerfire rifles that take detachable mags?

A: The list is:

  1. Folding stock
  2. Grenade or flare launcher
  3. Flash hider

THE ABILITY TO ACCEPT A DETACHABLE MAG IS NOT COUNTED AS AN EVIL FEATURE.


Q: Can I accidentally turn a grandfathered assault long gun into a copycat weapon and get it banned?

A: No. The law is clear that "copycat weapon" does not include assault long guns (or assault pistols, for that matter).


Q: What are the evil features for semi-auto pistols that take detachable mags?

A: The feature test for pistols was removed. The only banned pistols have a fixed mag > 10rds or are on the assault pistols list.


Q: What are the evil features for semi-auto shotguns?

A: There's only two, but if you have either, you're banned (one feature test):

  1. Folding stock
  2. Revolving magazine (also applies to non-semis)


Q: How does the evil feature test work?

A: The amended SB281 has a "two feature test" for rifles and a "one feature test" for shotguns.. If you have two "evil features", your semiautomatic centerfire rifle with detachable mags is banned (but see above about grandfathering). Semi-auto shotguns are only banned if they've got a folding stock or if it's a revolver shotgun, as noted above.


Q: How do you measure OAL for rifles for the purpose of the OAL < 29" test?

A: This is not spelled out by the law. Currently, the MSP seems to be using the same definition as the BATFE: stock unfolded and fully extended. Evidence of this can be found from the MSP not classifying rifles with a folded length of < 26" as "MD SBRs". Examples of such rifles would be the folding stock Vz-58 and AMD-65. It is difficult to imagine this standard changing, as it would inadvertently criminalize the ownership of hundreds of already-possessed firearms with no warning. The MSP has been telling people that the BATFE standards are in play for OAL; therefore, muzzle devices must be permanently attached to count.


Q: How does this affect non-semi-auto guns (pumps, levers, bolt guns, etc.)?

A: It does not ban any non-semi-auto guns, except for shotguns with revolving cylinder magazines.


Q: My pistol takes mags that have a greater than 10rd capacity. Is it banned?

A: A fixed magazine greater than 10rds can get a semiauto centerfire rifle or semiauto pistol banned. It's a complete non-issue for detachable mags, albeit you won't be able to buy those magazines in the state.


Q: What gun has a fixed mag greater than 10rds that's not a .22LR tube mag?

A: A SKS with a fixed 20rd magazine comes to mind. Also, using a bullet button could do much the same thing.


Q: Are combo flash hiders / brakes and flash hiders / comps considered flash hiders?

A: If it reduces flash or is intended to reduce flash, it's a flash hider. The bill is pretty clear about that. This means that combo devices that are advertised as affecting flash are considered flash hiders.


Q: What's going on with threaded barrels?

A: Threaded barrels are not an evil feature on semi-auto centerfire rifles with detachable mags (but flash hiders are).


Q: Are AR-15 rifles that can accept 5.56x45 mags in the magwell and function with a 5.56x45 upper banned?

A: Unless it's an HBAR, yes. Non-HBAR AR-15s are named assault long guns. HBAR AR-15s are subject to the copycat tests. Some piston guns may also be OK, such as the HK MR556.


Q: Are AK rifles banned?

A: Yes. They are named assault long guns.


Q: Are AR-15 pistols banned?

A: No, unless you do something really stupid with them like putting a bullet button and a > 10rd mag in.


Q: Are AK pistols banned?

A: No,, unless you do something really stupid with them like putting a bullet button and a > 10rd mag in.


Q: I have an HBAR AR-15 that I bought as unregulated, but is in a configuration that would be banned (eg, flash hider plus grenade launcher). Do I need to register it if SB281 becomes law?

A: No. Registration was removed from the bill before it passed.


Q: Are all HBAR AR-15s considered to be copies of the Colt Sporter H-BAR?

A: There are three different answers to floating around: 1. The MFLDA was told by the MSP a long time ago that it was only with a fixed stock. 2. The MSP says right now that it's any AR-15 with a heavy profile barrel. One MSP representative has claimed the barrel must be marked as HBAR, or mentioned as such in product literature. 3. A few very paranoid dealers will only sell/transfer true Colt-branded HBAR rifles.

The second interpretation is the one that is generally accepted, but be aware that the first interpretation is still in play at some FFLs.


Q: I have a dedicated .22LR AR-15 like the M&P15-22 that can't accept 5.56x45 magazines. Is it banned?

A: No. The AG ruled very clearly that 22lr look-alikes are not considered copies of assault long guns (excepting the case of the Unique F11 and Calico M100, which are specifically named assault long guns that are natively .22LR).


Q: I have a dedicated 9mm AR-15 lower. Is it banned?

A: No. AR-15 lowers which had magwells specifically designed for Colt-pattern or Glock 9mm magazines have historically been cash-and-carry. The MSP has been wishy-washy about whether they want a 77r on these recently. But they're definitely not banned.


Q: I have a .22LR AR-15 built on a 5.56x45-compatible AR-15 lower. Is it banned?

A: There have been no test cases so far, so no one's sure. There's also some ambiguity about what happens if you pin in a Catch22 bolt release (which prevents non-.22LR uppers from functioning with the lower).


Q: Are there any regulated rifles and shotguns if SB281 passes?

A: Sort of. The old list of regulated rifles and shotguns remain regulated for the purposes of the law, but are also completely-banned "assault long guns". There's no provision for regulated transfers of any other rifles or shotguns.


Q: Are any parts banned?

A: Nope. No worries about maintaining your collection of flash hiders... just be careful what guns you put them on.


Q: What's going on with bullet buttons?

A: The way the law is currently written, no one's sure. It mentions them explicitly, but in a way that would seem to allow you to use them. Given the other compromises in MDFSA2013, this may be intentional. Note that using a bullet button means your maximum magazine size is now 10 rounds, as a magazine capacity greater than that would fail the "fixed mag greater than 10rds" test for a copycat.

NFA

Q: What's going on with suppressors?

A: Suppressors per se are not banned, but you may find centerfire rifle with detachable mag hosts harder to come by. Suppressors are flash hiders. Flash hiders are an evil feature on semi-auto centerfire rifles with detachable mags. So you cannot use a suppressor with a flare/grenade launcher attachment, or a folding stock.


Q: What's going on with machineguns?

A: Machineguns are exempt from the ban, as it specifies "semiautomatic" weapons. This is thought to be intentional.


Q: What's going on with short-barreled rifles (SBRs)?

A: SBRs are not banned, but depending on the AG/MSP interpretation of the law, may be subject to the copycat and OAL tests. Engage Armament has filed a lawsuit asking for this intepretation to be revised. It was generally accepted in the past that the MSP does not consider SBRs to ever be on the assault long guns list, by design.


Q: What's going on with short-barreled shotguns (SBSs)?

A: SBSs are not banned, but depending on the AG/MSP interpretation of the law, may need to be compliant with the folding stock and revolver shotgun tests. Engage Armament has filed a lawsuit asking for this intepretation to be revised. It was generally accepted in the past that the MSP does not consider SBSs to ever be on the assault long guns list, by design.


Q: Can I build a copycat SBR out of a non-SBR assault long gun after the ban comes into effect?

A: The MSP's policy is that new SBRs can't be copycat weapons, including the length test (so no SBRs under 29").


Q: What's going on with Any Other Weapons (AOWs)?

A: There are no known issues with these now that the feature test for pistols is gone. The last roster update indicates that the "AOW workaround" for assault pistols still works.

Specific Named Firearms

Q: What's going on with stripped AR-15 lowers?

A: The MSP is allowing them to be sold/transferred, but a 77r must be filled out. (Yes, this makes no sense whatsoever.) Remember that you can only build otherwise-legal rifles and pistols out of your lower.


Q: What's the story with the HK91A2 and the fixed stock PTR-91?

A: For whatever reason, the named list omits the HK91A2 (the HK91 with fixed stock) from the listed of banned guns. This has led some to speculate the only the collapsing stock version is prohibited. However, the list also contains the Springfield Armory SAR-3 (aka SAR-8), which is an HK91A2 clone. The inclusion of the Springfield Armory SAR-3 would seem to prohibit future sales of the HK91A2 or PTR-91 with fixed stock.


Q: What's going on with the Sig 556?

A: Most FFLs do not treat the Sig 556 as a regulated firearm due to it not being a true clone of the 550/551, but rather a close derivative. However, it does use the same serialized receiver as the Sig 550/551, and thus there are some concerns that a re-interpretation of "copy" combined with one definition of a firearm being "the frame or receiver" could wind up causing future problems for the 556. Note that the law specifies .223 as the caliber for the Sig 550/551, so the 556R is generally thought to be safe. The 556xi has major receiver-level changes over the 550/551, so that should definitely not be a problem.

Q: What's going on with the Bushmaster M17S?

A: The MSP has erroneously interpreted the "Bushmaster rifle" on the named list to mean "all Bushmaster rifles" or "the Bushmaster bullpup". In fact, the gun on the list is referring to the Gwinn Firearms Bushmaster rifle, which is not an AR-15. No manufacturer is noted for the Bushmaster rifle on the list because the ownership of the manufacturer had changed hands. The Bushmaster M17S, on the other hand, narrowly missed inclusion in the AWB named list due to its unpublicized late 1994 release. Barring erroneous interpretation by the MSP or your local FFL, the Bushmaster M17S should be perfectly legal for sale in factory configuration.


Q: Is a Garand modified for 7.62x51 and detachable magazines considered to be a copy of an M1A or BM-59?

A: The licensing division guidance has been "no", and this is perfectly sensible. The M14/M1A and BM-59 has considerably more changes than a simple Garand modification. Shuff's Parkerizing can sell you one of these conversions.


Q: What's going on with the Masterpiece Arms MPAR556?

A: The MPAR556 is strikingly similar to the Leader Dynamics T2, which is on the banned list in the form of the AAA SAR. However, the early word is that the parts are not interchangeable with the Leader Dynamics T2, which should be enough to keep it from being considered a copy.


Q: What's going on with the Polytech M14?

A: The Polytech M14 uses a different thread for the gas cylinder than the M1A, and was thus ruled parts incompatible, and not a copy, by the MSP. This is an encouraging development. Unfortunately, pretty much every other M1A is still banned, including the SOCOM 16.

Notes