Federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers (but not private sellers) to initiate a background check on the purchaser prior to sale of a firearm. Federal law provides states with the option of serving as a state “point of contact” and conducting their own background checks using state, as well as federal, records and databases, or having the checks performed by the FBI using only the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. (Note that state files are not always included in the federal database.)

The Secretary of the Maryland State Police (“Secretary”) serves as a partial state point of contact for implementation of the Brady Act. Prospective purchasers of state-defined “regulated firearms” (handguns and assault weapons)1 must complete the state’s application form.2 The application must be processed through the Secretary, who must verify the contents of the application.3 Among other things, the Secretary must disapprove a transfer if the Secretary receives written notification from the applicant’s licensed attending physician that the applicant suffers from a mental disorder and is a danger to himself or herself or to another.4 If the Secretary disapproves an application, the Secretary must notify the seller or transferor within seven days of the application, in accordance with the Maryland waiting period.5

A seller of a regulated firearm who is not licensed as a dealer in such firearms must complete a transaction through either a regulated firearms dealer or a designated law enforcement agency.6 See the Maryland Private Sales section for further information.

A dealer must contact the FBI for the federally required NICS checks for long gun (rifle and shotgun) transfers.7

See the Maryland Prohibited Purchasers Generally section for the classes of persons prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm under state law.

See our Background Checks policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Notes
  1. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-101(r). ⤴︎
  2. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-117, 5-118. ⤴︎
  3. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety §§ 5-120, 5-123, 5-124. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎
  4. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. For more information about the procedure for the background check, see Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.01 – Md. Code Regs. 29.03.01.12. ⤴︎
  5. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-122. ⤴︎
  6. Md. Code Ann., Pub. Safety § 5-124(a)(2). ⤴︎
  7. Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Instant Criminal Background Check System Participation Map, at http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics/general-information/participation-map. ⤴︎