Can I Carry a Gun in Maryland?

Some states have enacted what’s called “Constitutional Carry”, meaning that state recognizes the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as all that is required for a U.S. citizen to legally carry a firearm, whether out in the open (called “open carry”) or concealed. Many states are “Shall Issue” states, meaning that if a person meets some basic requirements (for example, isn’t a convicted criminal), they’ll be issued a permit (sometimes called a “concealed carry weapon permit” or just “CCW permit”) to carry a concealed weapon. Some states are a combination, meaning you can open carry without a permit, but need a permit to carry concealed.

Maryland is what’s known as a “May Issue” state when it comes to carrying a regulated firearm, including handguns. That means you need a “good and substantial reason” to wear, carry, or transport a regulated firearm beyond the confines of your own home or real estate you own/manage, or to the gun range.

Good and Substantial Reason

What constitutes a “good and substantial reason”? Well, there has never been an official regulation, rule, or definition published to my knowledge. We must look to the Maryland Wear and Carry Permit application itself and to those who have had their applications approved for clues.

Job Requirement — If you have or have had the kind of job where you have/had to carry a gun as part of that job — I’m talking about police officers, correctional officers, private detectives, security guards, armored car drivers, etc.— then you’re practically guaranteed to receive your Maryland Wear and Carry Permit (hereafter referred to as “MD CCW”).

Owner or Employee of a Business — In our experience, if you own your own business, you have an excellent shot (pun intended) of getting your MD CCW. You MUST be able to prove you have an actual, ongoing business. That means providing copies of any supporting documentation you’ve filed with the State or federal governments (e.g., business/trader’s license, entity formation paperwork, taxes returns, etc.). It also means that your business activities MUST justify you carrying a handgun. For the most part, this means you either regularly make bank deposits or receive cash, checks or other non-electronic forms of payment, or you regularly carry something else very valuable and worth stealing. We are also aware of applications that were approved for employees of a business, where the employer wrote a letter on business letterhead requesting the employee be allowed to carry a firearm and explaining in great detail why. NOTE: The employer MUST prove the person is an actual, current, regular employee.

Professional Activities (i.e., doctor, lawyer) — We know several doctors, therapists, attorneys, and real estate professionals who have received a MD CCW. These individuals regularly met with unfamiliar people in strange places at odd hours. They could also prove that they are currently credentialed to operate in their profession.

Personal Protection — This is the rarest breed of MD CCW permit holder. No one has ever been issued a MD CCW because they “feared for their life” or because “something bad could happen”, or because “the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to keep and bear arms”. That is a matter of settled law. Anyone who ever filed under this category and was actually issued a MD CCW was able to provide proof of a documented threat against them. The documentation was most often tied to a legal proceeding (e.g., a court case) or referred to an official police report where a corroborating witness substantiated the threat.

Other Restrictions

While the “good and substantial reason” is the highest hurdle, it’s not the only one to clear before applying for a MD CCW. You must also be able to honestly answer the following YES / NO questions correctly:

  1. Have you ever been served with an ex-parte or protection order for domestic violence?
  2. Have you ever been ARRESTED for a violation of any criminal law?
  3. Have you ever been CHARGED with a violation of any criminal law?
  4. Have you ever been CONVICTED of a violation of any criminal law?
  5. Have you ever been served with a criminal summons?
  6. Are you currently on parole or probation or mandatory supervision?
  7. Have you ever been confined or committed, including voluntary commitment, to a mental institution or hospital for treatment of a mental disorder or disorders?
  8. Are you addicted to, or have you ever been, or are you currently being treated for alcoholism?
  9. Are you addicted to or have you ever been addicted to controlled dangerous substances?*
  10. Are you currently being treated, or have you ever been treated, for an addiction to controlled dangerous substances?

* Be aware that the Maryland State Police know whether or not you have a medical marijuana card. If you do, you’ll very likely be considered “addicted”.

Training and Other Requirements

If you feel you meet the “good and substantial” test and didn’t trip over any of the other restrictions, then by all means find a course taught by a Maryland Qualified Handgun Instructor from whom you can receive the required training, and who can certify your knowledge of and proficiency with a firearm.

There are only a handful of exemptions from the training requirement (one of which isn’t really an exemption at all):

  1. You are an active law enforcement officer with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State or any local law enforcement agency in the State.
  2. You are a retired law enforcement officer with a law enforcement agency of the United States, the State or any local law enforcement agency in the State.
  3. You are an activeretired, or honorably discharged member of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard.
  4. You are a Qualified Handgun Instructor registered with the Maryland State Police.
  5. You have successfully completed a firearms training course given by a Qualified Handgun Instructor.

Bonus for Training with Us

If you take our Personal Protection course (and our Basic Pistol course, if initially applying, in order to meet the 16-hour minimum), we’ll walk you through the entire application process. We’ve never had an application not approved….