Maryland Vs. Tennessee Gun Laws


This week we will be comparing Maryland and Tennessee gun laws. These two states are quite different in how they handle their handgun regulations, assault style weapons, secure weapon storage and many other firearm issues. We will highlight some of the biggest differences but this is in no way an exhaustive comparison.

Purchasing Handguns

Right out the gate Maryland has way more laws surrounding handgun than Tennessee. Maryland requires all handgun and assault weapon purchases to be processed through a licensed dealer, which means private sellers must go to a dealer or law enforcement agency to finalize any deal and have the dealer or agency do a background check. All handgun and assault dealers must be licensed and all purchasers must complete a firearms safety-training course before purchasing any handgun or designated assault weapon (Md. Code Ann., Pub, Safety 5-117, 5-118).  In fact, if one wishes to purchase a handgun or assault weapon in Maryland they must first complete a state application form. If the purchase is approved they have 90 days to finalize it. Maryland also imposes a seven-day waiting period between purchasing a handgun or assault weapon and actually physically obtaining it. Additionally you cannot purchase more than one handgun or assault rifle in a thirty-day period.

In stark contrast to this Tennessee does not require a background check for unlicensed private firearm transfers, require licensure or registration of handguns and it does not impose a waiting period on physically obtaining the firearm nor does it impose any limit on the number of firearm that may be purchased at one time. Tennessee is definitely the friendlier state to handgun owners.

Purchasing Long Guns

Purchasing rifles and shotguns both states is a comparatively easy affair to handguns in Maryland. Maryland doesn’t require licensing or registering prior to purchasing long guns and it doesn’t require private deals to be passed through a licensed dealer and thus a background check is not required. Maryland is a partial point of contact state which means while they have their own process for handguns and assault weapons, licensed long gun dealers still process the background check for long guns through the FBI

In Tennessee deals between private sellers are the same, neither state requires the purchase to be passed through a federally licensed dealer and no hence no background check is done in private long gun sales in Tennessee. Tennessee is however a point of contact state, which means licensed firearm dealers run the background check through the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation not the FBI.

Prohibited Firearms

In Tennessee there is no law regulating assault style weapons or magazine capacity. This is not the same in Maryland. In addition to the licensing and registration laws talked about above Maryland prohibits the sale of a very specific list of defined assault weapons, the list of 45 prohibited firearms, or copies, may be found in

Md. Code Ann., Crim. Law 4-301(d), 4-303(a).  Firearm dealers may however continue to sell assault weapons that they obtained prior to October 1, 2013 when the law took into effect. Also someone who possessed or completed a form to possess a now banned assault weapon may still complete the purchase if they began the transfer before October 1, 2013.

Concealed Carry Permits

Both state require anyone who wants to carry around a concealed handgun to obtain a concealed carry permit. Both states are also officially shall-issue states, which means as long as you meet the requirements, there should be no reason your permit is denied. Maryland requirements however allow the Secretary discretion to deny permits so in reality most people see Maryland as may-issue. Both states have firearm safety training in their list of requirements.

This article is part of a weekly series comparing basic gun laws in different States.  This is not legal advice. Like all laws these are subject to change.  There may also be county and city laws not covered in this article that change your ability to carry, transport and otherwise possess your firearm.


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