In this blog with video component we try to define what the Law says about Wearing, Carrying, and/or Transporting a handgun in the State of Maryland.
We get this question ALL THE TIME, what is the difference between carry and transport?
The reason we get this question so much, I think, is because there are no clear cut definitions as to what they mean, respectively.
For instance, according to dictionary.com:
1. to take or support from one place to another; convey; transport:
2. to wear, hold, or have around one:
1. to carry, move, or convey from one place to another.
2. to carry away by strong emotion; enrapture.
Even here, you can see that their respective definitions are used to define each other! It really can be confusing and THAT is how people get in trouble.
We will start by looking at Public Safety article §5–303 says that "A person shall have a permit issued under this subtitle before the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun."
What this means is that, as long as you have a Maryland Handgun Permit, you are legally allowed to wear, carry, or transport a handgun anywhere they are legal to possess, ie: not on Public School property or Post Offices. We will have a video coming out soon that explicitly states all of the places that are off limits in MD.
So let's assume you don’t have a Handgun Permit. Where than can you wear, carry or transport a firearm.
Let's start by looking at what Maryland says about transporting a firearm.
For that we will look at Criminal Law §4–203.
In it, it covers who can legally wear, carry, or transport a handgun in the State of Maryland.
Section 4-203 makes it illegal to wear, carry, or transport a handgun regardless of whether it is concealed or out in the open. There is a requirement that the defendant knows that he or she has the gun, but this is a rebuttable presumption. Meaning, the defense has to prove there was no knowledge in order to raise this challenge. The law becomes confusing when the numerous exceptions are described. Any person who is carrying or transporting to and from formal or informal target practice, a sport shooting event, hunting or hunting classes is allowed to do so provided the gun is unloaded and carried in a case or holster. Transporting is also legal if it is done to and from a repair shop, the place of legal purchase, and between bona fide residences of the person. A person may also transport the gun between his or her residence and place of business. There are other less common exceptions, but the bottom line is that it’s legal to transport a gun unless it’s illegal, which makes for a highly confusing and dangerous law wrought with flaws and questions.
What is crazy about this are the penalties you face if convicted of violating these statues.
Your first offence has a minimum 30 day incarceration, and y our second offence has a 3 year minimum incarceration.
If the conditions above do not apply, you cannot wear, carry, or transport a firearm in the State of Maryland without a permit.
As mentioned above, Public Safety article §5–303 says that "A person shall have a permit issued under this subtitle before the person carries, wears, or transports a handgun."
None of this really helps clarify the difference between wearing, carrying, and/or transporting a firearm in Maryland, just that there are very specific instances as to when you can, and who legally can wear, carry or transport a firearm.
As you saw, there is not a different permit for each scenario. That is why it is often called the Wear and Carry Permit.
The language that we usually use is that if it is attached to your body, you are wearing and carrying the firearm. If it is in purse, briefcase, fanny pack, or something else not attached to your body but that you are carrying with you, or you are simply carrying the firearm in your hand, you are carrying the firearm. If neither of these conditions apply, but the firearm is traveling with you (meaning it goes where you go) you are transporting the firearm.
As for transporting, we also get asked "How should we transport the firearm"? Should we keep in in the trunk? Should we keep it unloaded?
Well, as stated in Criminal Law §4–203, the firearm needs to be unloaded and in an enclosed case or holster.
What about someone that is coming into the state, or just passing through, and doesn’t know the laws in Maryland?
In the case of interstate travel, we have to use US Code.
For that we will look at 18 U.S. Code § 926A - Interstate transportation of firearms
That says that:
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
YOU MUST NOTE THAT:
If you travel through MD with the firearm unloaded and secured you are covered under Federal law.
If you interrupt your trip while in Maryland, you come under state law, and may not transport a handgun even unloaded and cased, except to a few designated destinations (range, residence, etc.) without a Maryland Permit. These restrictions on transportation do not apply to long guns.
At the end of the day, we just want you to be smart and stay legal.
For reference, here are the citations used for this blog and video:
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