En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Maryland

UPDATED April 19, 2017

View All

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate in your community for more information on gun laws in your area. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the MD State and Local Programs page.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

No. Under federal law, if the abuser has been convicted of a felony or a domestic violence misdemeanor, s/he cannot have or buy a gun.*  If you're not sure if s/he has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, see What crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

In addition, Maryland state law says that anyone who has been convicted of a "crime of violence" or certain drug-related offenses (listed in section 5-133(c)(1)(ii)) cannot have or buy a gun.**  A “crime of violence” is defined as any of the following crimes:

  • abduction;
  • arson in the first degree;
  • assault in the first or second degree;
  • burglary in the first, second, or third degree;
  • carjacking and armed carjacking;
  • escape in the first degree;
  • kidnapping;
  • voluntary manslaughter;
  • maiming;
  • mayhem;
  • murder in the first or second degree;
  • rape in the first or second degree;
  • robbery;
  • robbery with a dangerous weapon;
  • sexual offense in the first, second, or third degree;
  • home invasion;
  • an attempt to commit any of the above crimes;
  • home invasion; or
  • assault with intent to commit any of the above crimes or a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year.***

* 18 USC § 922(g)(9)
** MD Code, Public Safety § 5-133(c)
*** MD Code, Public Safety, § 5-101(c)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat crimes are considered domestic violence misdemeanors?

A crime is considered a domestic violence misdemeanor under federal law if it:

  • Can be defined as a misdemeanor under federal or state law; and
  • Involves physical violence or force, or includes threats made with a deadly weapon; and
  • Was committed by:
    • a current or former spouse;
    • a parent or guardian of the victim;
    • a person with whom the victim shares a child;
    • a person living with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian; or
    • a person who has a similar relationship (listed above) with a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim.*

Note: The crime does not have to specifically mention "domestic violence" in order for it to be considered a domestic violence misdemeanor, and for the federal firearm law to apply.**  The relationship that the victim has with the offender is what determines whether or not the misdemeanor is a "domestic violence" misdemeanor.*** 

For example: If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his wife, he may no longer have or buy a gun.  If Bob is convicted of a misdemeanor assault against his neighbor, he may still be able to have or buy a gun.

If you're not sure if a certain crime counts as a domestic violence misdemeanor, you can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit at 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2 

* 18 USC § 921(a)(33)(A)
** United States v. Kavoukian, 315 F. 3d 139 (2d. Cir. 2002); United States v. Meade, 175 F.3d 215 (1st Cir. 1999).
*** United States v. Denis, 297 F.3d.25 (1st Cir. 2002.); United States v. Costigan, No. 009-B0H, 2000 U.S. Dist. (D. Me. June 16, 2000).

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topWhat is the definition of a felony?

A felony under federal law is a crime that is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year.*

* 18 USC § 3559

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topIf a law enforcement officer or other government employee is convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor, can s/he have or buy a gun?

Under the federal law, law enforcement officers and other government officials who have been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony cannot have or buy guns for any purpose, including their official duties, according to federal law.* 

In MD, law enforcement can have a gun only while acting in the scope of their employment.**

* 18 USC § 925(a)(1)
** Maryland Code, Public Safety § 5-102(4)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor or felony?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS. Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please see the question, What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top