Thursday, 05 April 2012 12:32
The Second Amendment of the Constitution states “[a] well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. When the Bill of Rights was ratified by the states, the most common weapon was a black powder rifle. As times have changed and technology has progressed, so has the laws regulating the possession and use of guns.
The penalties for violating handgun laws are severe. If you have been charged with possession of a handgun for whatever reason, it is extremely important to seek out the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Handguns are defined as firearms with short barrels (pistol, revolver, or other firearm) that are capable of being concealed. Possession of a handgun is a very regulated issue. A handgun may be purchased in Maryland only after a seven-day waiting period and approval by the Maryland State Police. There are a number of laws that affect your ability to possess a handgun in Maryland.
Handgun in your home.
You have the right to defend yourself. You also have the right to arm yourself. However, the government can restrict the type of gun you may own, and where you may possess it. A handgun permit enables you to keep one in your home.
Handgun outside your home.
Maryland Criminal Law §4-203 prohibits the carrying of a handgun in public. There is no difference if the gun is concealed or in the open. There are certain exceptions that allow a person to obtain a permit to carry a handgun. Handgun permits are issued in limited circumstances for specific reasons such as business needs (carrying large amounts of cash), recreation, certain travel and certain persons at work.
It is a misdemeanor to knowingly transport a handgun in any vehicle. This includes a car, truck, boat, or plane. Transporting includes any public road or highway, including parking lots. Having the gun in the vehicle is enough to presume you knew the gun was there.
Committing a crime while in possession of a handgun.
Maryland criminal law ads additional punishment if you commit a crime while in possession of a handgun. The use of a handgun in commission of a felony or crime of violence is a specific offense in Maryland. It requires that you had the general intent to use the handgun to assist in the commission of the crime, and that the handgun was actually used. Use could also include brandishing (showing the gun to threaten). Possession of any firearm while in the commission of a drug trafficking crime carries it’s own penalties.
New development in Maryland’s handgun law.
Maryland is known as a ‘shall issue’ state. What that means is that in the Maryland State Police Superintendent shall issue you a handgun permit if he determines you qualify. If you do not have a criminal record and you meet other qualifications, the Superintendent must issue you the permit.
It is the ‘other qualifications’ that has gotten Maryland into some trouble. The law gives the Superintendent the right to decide if you have a ‘good and substantial reason’ to carry a gun. This changed in March of 2012 when a federal judge threw out that portion of the law, saying while it is permissible to have restrictions on handgun permits, it is unconstitutional to require you to show a good reason to have the handgun.