As part of Maryland State Police efforts to improve customer service, the process of applying to purchase a regulated firearm is moving from paper forms filled out by hand, to an online automated system expected to increase efficiency and improve the process for both customers and firearms dealers.
Beginning January 1, 2017, persons applying to purchase a regulated firearm in Maryland will conduct the entire process online via the Maryland State Police Licensing Portal. This includes completing the application forms and paying the required application fee. Individuals will be able to apply online using a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, regardless of the operating system. All current web browsers are also supported by the new system.
Currently, a person wishing to purchase a regulated firearm must complete the required Form 77R and the related paperwork by hand. This paperwork is submitted to a firearms dealer or MSP barrack and then forwarded to the Maryland State Police Licensing Division, where background checks are conducted to ensure the applicant is not prohibited from purchasing a regulated firearm.
Little has changed in the questions and forms being completed as part of the purchase application process. Applicants will continue to provide the same information currently required on the Form 77R.
There will be two differences in the new process. First, every applicant will need an email account. This will enable the applicant to receive follow-up and reminder correspondence from the State Police Licensing Division. Second, submission of the electronic application requires the use of a credit or debit card. All transactions with the Licensing Division regarding regulated firearm purchases will be done by credit or debit card only, beginning January 1, 2017. The $10 application fee will remain the same.
When the online application is completed by a firearm dealer or barrack, it will be submitted electronically to the State Police Licensing Division, rather than being mailed or faxed as has been done in the past. The electronic submission of the completed form by the dealer or barrack will begin the seven-day waiting period required by law, during which the required background checks are conducted to determine if the applicant is prohibited from purchasing a regulated firearm.
Maryland State Police Licensing Division staff solicited input, advice and feedback from firearms dealers regarding the design of the new Licensing Portal application process. It is believed this may be the first time Maryland firearms dealers have been included in a focus group that had direct input on the design and work flow of a system related to the state’s firearms purchasing process. The project team worked hard to emphasize to firearms dealers that this new process was intended to be developed with their involvement.
In addition to designing, documenting and testing the on-line system, Maryland State Police Licensing Division personnel have been busy conducting training in the new process. Seminars for firearm dealers have been conducted throughout the state, with more than 300 dealers attending. Training has been provided to State Police barrack duty officers who most often deal with secondary sales of regulated firearms that must also go through the background check process and to allied law enforcement agency personnel who perform certain tasks related to regulated firearm transfers.
Licensing Division personnel developed posters and information cards alerting consumers to the pending automation. Those publicity items were delivered in-person to each dealer in the state in an effort to have face-to-face interaction with dealers about the new process and answer any questions they had.
The Licensing Division project team has also developed a computer lab where, beginning in mid-December, firearms dealers will be able to have hands-on experience with the new automation system and receive more personal training. Time in the computer lab must be scheduled in advance with the Licensing Division.
The new regulated firearm purchase procedure has nothing to do with the requirement in Maryland to have a handgun qualification license (HQL) or approved HQL exemption before beginning the process to purchase a regulated firearm. The handgun qualification license application process has been an on-line procedure since it became law in Maryland in the fall of 2013.
The goal of the automated 77R application process is to increase the ease and efficiency of purchasing a regulated firearm in Maryland. The on-line completion of forms will eliminate legibility issues and decrease data processing errors. The Maryland State Police Licensing Division staff is continuing their efforts to promptly approve those eligible to purchase regulated firearms, while ensuring those prohibited by law are not approved to complete the purchase process.
Further information is available by clicking on ‘Licensing Division,’ on the Maryland State Police website at mdsp.maryland.gov.