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Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Possession of a firearm refers to having and holding it. There are legal requirements for transporting a gun but with possession of a regular firearm, there is required paperwork that needs to be filled out in order to have it registered or when purchased from a store or a gun show.

An unlawful possession charge depends on the type of firearm that is in question. Some weapons are considered cash and carry, meaning that a person can purchase a gun and carry it without having to register it. Others have to be registered, and an individual has to obtain a permit to own the weapon. The end result of failing to abide by these rules could be having to consult a Maryland gun attorney to defend oneself against a criminal offense.

Lawful Process of Purchase

In order to legally purchase a firearm and avoid an unlawful possession charge, an individual will have to file for a permit. Typically, a firearms dealer will be willing to help as part of making the firearm sale and should have the appropriate paperwork to complete. There will be fees involved and once approval is obtained to purchase the firearm, there will be a waiting period.

Obtaining a permit is not something that an individual can do entirely independently. It can not be done online, nor can one just show up at a store and purchase the gun, there is a waiting period. Additionally, a dealer will have all of the necessary paperwork and must adhere to reporting requirements for anyone applying for a firearm.

For example, handguns must be registered and in order to purchase one, an individual must go through a background check. Other types of firearms considered as title two firearms are much more heavily regulated and more difficult to obtain. It could take months to properly obtain a weapon in this class.

Purchase Restrictions

In order to make a purchase, there are certain requirements of the individual. The main ones are the absence of a conviction for a crime of violence or for a felony. A person can not be currently subject to a protective order or a domestic violence order for as long as they are active. Even though these orders are civil in nature and not criminal, they can preclude someone from purchasing a firearm.

Other more obscure types of situations can consist of being an alcoholic or institutionalized and not of sound mind. Most commonly, however, unlawful possession of a firearm will apply to someone with a criminal record or subject to a protective order.

Obtaining a Permit

An individual must have a permit in Maryland that is approved by law enforcement to avoid unlawful possession of a firearm. One must go through the approval process. It is not just a matter of whether a person has a criminal record but as part of the process, they will want to know why a concealed carry permit necessary. An individual must demonstrate a need such as being in danger or working in an occupation where one is required to carry large sums of cash.

Recent Law Modifications

The rules have become more restrictive over time and are rarely lifted. On the state level, Maryland has more restrictions and more requirements and more prohibitions than the federal government. The state can never have fewer rules and regulations than the federal government, but they can and frequently do have more.

The difficulty lies in enforcing the rules. State laws are constantly changing, but many individuals who disagree with the rules do not typically want to enforce them. They are treated very differently depending on where are charge occurs. If an individual is charged with unlawful possession in Baltimore City versus the rural counties of western Maryland or eastern shore, the same charge can have a very different result in regards to the penalties.

Gun laws are changing because law enforcement does not want guns being in the hands of the wrong individuals, however, accidents happen. Children having access to firearms is a major issue for example, so they are proposing more restrictions and regulations. The regulations are not as much about the guns that can be owned as they are about who can own certain guns and conditions that would preclude certain people of unlawful ownership.

Gun Free Zones

In accordance to unlawful possession of a firearm, Maryland is currently working on a vote that would ban guns on college campuses. Whether it goes through remains to be seen but there is currently a posture to ban guns from campuses. Currently, school zones are basically gun free zones.

In the public arena, if a person has a conceal permit, they can carry it virtually anywhere except at schools. If someone is in violation of the federal gun free zone prohibition, they are facing up to five years’ incarceration and/or a $5,000 fine.

Further Penalties

The most basic charge is unlawful possession where someone is either carrying or transporting it in a car and does not have it properly stored, such as having it in a purse. In that scenario, failing to store or properly carry it is the lowest level of weapon’s charges. This would be a misdemeanor and carries up to three years’ incarceration and a fine up to $2,500.

If they are convicted, they have to be sentenced to 30 days. The 30 days could be suspended, however. It doesn’t mean they have to serve incarceration, but they have to be given at least 30 days whether it’s suspended or not.