In order to ensure public safety, federal law prohibits certain categories of people from purchasing or possessing firearms. These categories include convicted felons, domestic abusers, and some people with a history of serious mental health issues.
Maryland law also provides for the regulation of handguns and assault rifles. The state prohibits the transfer of a regulated gun to anyone under the age of 21. Maryland requires anyone seeking to obtain a regulated firearm to complete a firearms safety training course.
Maryland prohibits the transfer of firearms to several other categories of people. These include persons who have been convicted of a violent crime, a felony, conspiracy to commit a felony, or a common law crime or misdemeanor punishable by more than two years of imprisonment, or who is a fugitive from justice. A person habitually under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances is also prohibited from possessing, purchasing or leasing any regulated firearm.
The restrictions on possession of firearms by people with a history of mental illness are more expansive than those for transfers. A person with a history of mental illness and violent behavior can purchase or lease a regulated firearm after he or she has obtained a certificate from a physician certifying that the person is capable of possessing a firearm without causing danger. However, this exception is not applicable to possession of regulated firearms.
Private persons seeking to sell their regulated firearms need to process the transfers through licensed dealers. The private seller cannot make a transfer to any person who he or she knows or has reason to believe is a prohibited transferee under the law. However private transfers of rifles and shotguns need not be conducted through licensed dealers and require no background checks.
The consequences of a transfer to a person in any prohibited category can be serious. If you have been charged with a weapons possession or other firearms violation under federal or Maryland law, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options.
Source: SmartGunLaws.org, "Prohibited Purchasers Generally in Maryland," accessed on Mar. 13, 2015