By: José Niño

Ammunition background checks could be coming to Maryland.

The 2021 session of the Maryland General Assembly session is now in effect. According to the NRA-ILA, House Bill 175, a bill featuring tight restrictions on ammunition sales, was recently assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

If passed, HB 175 would mandate “ammunition vendors” to carry out a federal NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check Systme) background check on individuals potentially trying to acquire ammunition. According to the NRA-ILA, “ammunition vendor” has a vague definition in the bill in question. This could lead to private, lawful individuals not being able to sell or give ammo to friends or family.

As of now, federal law dictates that only Federal Firearms Licensees (FFL) and state authorities are allowed to run background checks. In this case, they can only do so for firearms. Businesses that sell ammo are not obligated to possess an FFL. As the NRA-ILA pointed out, “Many small businesses such as sporting goods stores, hardware stores, and antique shops sell ammunition without transferring firearms.”

Licensed firearm dealers and venues that only sell ammo cannot run NICS background checks for sales exclusively made up of ammo.

Under this bill, ammunition transfers carried out by vendors at shooting ranges that hold a “business or other regulatory license” would be exempt from the regulations, provided the “ammunition is at all times kept within the facility’s premises.”

The bill has exemptions for vendors who transfer ammo to individuals who hold a Handgun Qualification License (HQL), however, the NRA-ILA contends that these exemptions are flawed. A large portion of gun owners don’t possess an HQL. These include individuals who have not bought a handgun since 2013, those who do not want to buy handguns, young adults in the 18 to 20 age range, individuals coming from out of state, and active-duty military or veterans who are exempt from holding an HQL.

Maryland is no safe haven for gun owners. It is ranked in a putrid 44th place according to Guns & Ammo magazine’s rankings of best states for gun owners. This kind of legislation fits the state’s anti-gun profile.

Gun owners should not lose hope though. With how polarized politics is these days, there’s plenty of ways for Second Amendment supporters to get involved and mobilize angry voters.

Applying the right amount of pressure can scuttle bills like HB 175 even in the most anti-gun states, such as Maryland. It’s just a matter of activists rising to the occasion and reminding their elected officials to uphold their constitutional duties.

In 2021, Maryland elected officials will need to be firmly reminded of this, now that they’ve decided to embark on the anti-Second Amendment path with the introduction of HB 175.

José Niño is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Sign up for his mailing list here. Contact him via Facebook, Twitter, or email him at Get his e-book, The 10 Myths of Gun Control, here.