13 April 2014

The Maryland HQL - How Long and How Much for your Rights?

I finally finished the process one must complete to buy a handgun in Maryland. The entire process will have taken me about 6 months before I can take possession of any newly purchased handgun. However, before one gets all excited the ACTUAL time is 22 days. I took the class back in October of 2013 but I had waited before putting in the actual application, hence the 6 months bit. But from the day you take a training class to the soonest you would be eligible to pick up a newly purchased handgun after the waiting period ends is around 21 days. Are you interested in the minimum total cost? With NO GUN PURCHASED you are looking at spending a minimum of $124.50 for just the HQL. If you actually buy a gun the minimum total cost not including the cost the handgun is $164.50.

As I had stated earlier the class was back in October 2013 but I waited for personal reasons. I finally put in the application 26 March 2014 (a Wednesday) after having completed the fingerprinting requirement (my finger print receipt says 3/25/14). I watched the Maryland State Police license page everyday afterward except on Sunday. By Sunday all the sections had been completed except the MVA Photo, LiveScan and NICS sections (I imagine those last 3 are actually the easiest sections since NICS is instant). The page has a section that breaks down the various Maryland criminal and mental health agencies' databases the MD State Police reference when completing the background check. There are also sections for the fingerprinting part and the "MVA Photo" they need for the hard copy and of course the NICS checks. As each agency reports back, each section is reported as 'Completed.' Once all sections are complete then an "approval officer" completes the process. If all goes well, you'll have an active HQL number in about a week. Mine went active on 31 March (a Monday).

Once you have an active number though you still can't buy a handgun... You actually need the laminated card. That takes about a week to be mailed out to you; I got my card 7 April (a Monday). That means that it took 12 days from the day I put in the application to the day I received the card. But we're not done yet. I could have run out and bought a handgun on 7 April. Had I done that I would STILL have to wait at LEAST 7 days before I could pick up a firearm that I just bought (Maryland has a 7 day waiting period). If I had taken the class on 25 March and if the store allows "8th day pickup" then you are looking at 21 days before you a able to exercise your right to own a handgun.

But what about the cost? The ACTUAL minimum cost to purchase a handgun with all the fees and taking the cheapest class I could find plus the cost of a chamber lock (more on that later) is $164.50. Below is the breakdown:

Cheapest class I could find* - $20.00
Cheapest LiveScan fingerprinting I could find - $54.50
Maryland State Police HQL Application fee - $50.00

Minimum Initial Cost - $124.50

*Please note that the $20 class is offered by one group otherwise the classes offered by other groups are usually around $100 to $120. This brings you to a cost of around $204.50 and upward.

Purchasing a handgun, however, requires a little more money to go to the State Police plus one other requirement State law says is needed: the chamber lock. A chamber lock is a device that is inserted into the chamber of the firearm then the key is inserted into the muzzle and rotated to lock the device in place. This locks up the action so one can't pull the slide back. The State says that you have to have a chamber lock before you leave the store. If you can't get one from a buddy then you have to buy one. The fee that goes to the State Police is for something that I'm not sure about. I've seen where it says Government Background on a receipt from BassPro for $10 but I've heard it was a transfer or registration fee. Additional Costs below:

State Police transfer/registration fee - $10.00
Chamber Lock - $30.00

So, in total, if you want to exercise the 'KEEP' part of your right to "keep and bear arms" (specifically a handgun) as a resident of Maryland you will wait around 3 weeks and you will pay a minimum of $124.50 in addition to the cost of the firearm of your choice plus sales tax, fees and required accessories. The total cost of that new $550 Glock 19 GEN4 you want? Around $747.50 without any extra mags, ammo or other accessories. But remember, not all of the HQL classes are that cheap. Many of the classes available are around $100 to $120 but some of those classes offer more that just the basic class. From what I have heard, some of the more expensive classes have you shoot various handguns giving you experience with those firearms to help you choose which gun you may end up buying.

When you buy the gun you still have to do several pages worth of paperwork in addition to the standard form 4473. Everyone does form 4473 no matter what state you live in; its a federal requirement when you buy from a dealer. But Maryland has about 3 or 4 pages you still have to fill out which, incidentally, those pages are basically the same as form 4473 AND the questionnaire you had to answer when put in the application for the HQL. TRIPLE REDUNDANCY!!! Thankfully once you have the HQL you can buy all the handguns you want (you'll still have fill out all the pages for each purchase). I would strongly suggest you buy as many as you can so as to help offset that initial cost. Additionally the license lasts for 10 years; I'd like to move out of this idiotic State before then but only time will tell.

I just want to say that it boggles my mind to think that people are willing to set dangerous precedence by requiring lengthy delays and monetary costs that the ordinary, everyday citizen has to jump through before exercising what is a fundamental, Constitutionally protected right.

Don't believe owning a handgun is a right? Don't take it from me The Supreme Court says it is (see the 2008 Heller Case).

Update: I may have some of the days wrong. The dates are correct but the math may not stack up just right. Either way, your still looking at about 21 to 24 days before you can actually legally pick up a newly purchased handgun from the store.


  1. Applied for HQL with the MD State Police on Dec 28,2015 and got approval on Jan 24, 2016.

  2. I just applied for my HQL Feb 29, 2016 and it's been 23 days so far.
    Not sure why it's such a long drawn out process.

  3. I applied March 3. Waiting 20 days so far. They must be busy.

  4. Applied April 12th. Payment and DHMH checked off. Secondary review popped up on the 14th. Nothing since. (21 days)