This article originally appeared at Ammoland.

By Tom McHale
Maryland Gun Laws

Tom McHale headshot low-res square

Tom McHale

USA –-( Are you allowed to secede from the state in which you grew up?

I know “secede” is a scary word that you normally hear from extremists, but I’m not going to make my secession that big a deal. I mean, it’s not like I’m going to start firing cannonballs at a pile of bricks like the folks in my adopted state of South Carolina did, although that apparently entertained the locals all day. I’m going to do something milder with maybe just a hint of micro-aggression. In fact, I think I’m going to take a lesson from those people who protest by blocking traffic. I’m going to lay down on the floor of my local Target store, right in front of the hallway leading to the gender ambivalent bathrooms. That’ll get some attention for my cause.

Why this drastic action? My former home state, where we used to do things like getting 2,000 rowdy Orioles fans to flip Howard Cosell the finger on Monday Night Baseball, has turned all wussy and is now overrun with Assault Political Correctness. Yes, I’m talking about the Republik of Maryland – the state of rough and gruff oystermen, steel workers, and Jim Palmer underwear ads.

It’s a travesty because Maryland used to be famous. It’s the state where Frank Scott Key caught cannonballs with his bare hands and hurled them back at the British all while drinking PBR and whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy. Oh, and while doing all that, he managed to write the national anthem. You know, Free Bird.

I’ve been tracking the wussification of Maryland for some years now, but things got out of control with my most recent trip back to the home of blue crab pickin’ and Natty Boh beer.

My wife and I were planning a driving trip there for a family get together. With both of us having South Carolina concealed carry permits, we’re accustomed to carrying a gun in all states between here and there. I know full well that Maryland doesn’t grant concealed carry “rights” to anyone except Michael Bloomberg’s bodyguards, but I figured I might be able to at least have a handgun in my car and family home once we arrived.

I did a little legal research by watching a few episodes of Law and Order, then I checked out the NRA-ILA gun laws website. My assumption was that I could do something like unload my gun, bolt it into a steel box welded to my trunk bed, and cover it with three feet of reinforced concrete. Guess what? No such luck. As a visitor, you’re not allowed to even possess a handgun. You can’t transport one in your car. You can’t have one at the house where you’re staying. You can’t watch any movies that depict a handgun being used by anyone other than Steven Seagal.

On the plus side, Maryland does issue concealed carry permits to residents, provided that you demonstrate a “good enough” reason to carry a handgun. In case you were wondering, preventing yourself from being killed by thugs is not a “good enough” reason. Presumably, if you’re in charge of delivering strippers to late night legislative sessions, that is a “good enough” reason.

When I read the laws that prohibit pretty much everything except Chuckit Tennis Ball Throwers for your Chesapeake Retriever, I got cranky and stomped around the house bitching about Maryland politicians and the useful idiots of the Great State of Denial who elected them. After I threatened to dump four cans of Old Bay Seasoning into the Baltimore Aquarium in protest, my wife had enough of my tantrum and offered up a useful suggestion. “Why don’t we just bring a shotgun in the car?” Yes, I married a genius.

Eureka! While not quite as convenient as a handgun, a compact shotgun would provide a little peace of mind for the long trip. Better yet, it seemed like a great way to beat “the man” at his own game. I investigated the laws and could find nothing to squash this new plan. Now fully inspired to poke my finger in the eye of every Esquire Magazine-reading Maryland politician, I decided to bring not just a plain Jane Remington 870, but something extra dangerous looking. You know, gear that might be used by the Team America Seal Ranger Delta Krav Maga and Combat Salsa Dance Squad. The choice was easy. I’ve been gradually tweaking out a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun for the past couple of years now, and I have to say, it’s starting to look like something out of Starship Troopers.

This handy little gem is now decked out with a Nordic Components magazine tube extension, which gives me 7+1 12-gauge capacity for the Federal FliteControl Wad buckshot loads I like. I added a Mesa Tactical Urbino Pistol Grip Stock with Limbsaver butt pad and SureShell shotshell carriers on both the receiver and stock. Up top is an Aimpoint Micro H-2 red dot sight. Up front is a Crimson Trace RailMaster Pro with red laser and 100-lumen white light. Yeah, it’s a lot of gear, but I kind of use it for an experimental project gun to test out different components. It’s also turning out to be quite useful when driving through the pansy-belt states.

So here’s the kicker. This “tactical” (I hate to use that word, but it fits here doesn’t it?) beast is just hunky dory to bring to the mollycoddling state of Maryland. Those Wolf Blitzer worshipping pantywaists in the state Capitol don’t seem too concerned about what they most certainly would classify as a Tactical Super Duper Assault Shotgun.

Just to put that in perspective, what’s not OK to have in Maryland? One example would be the M1895 Nagant Revolver. That’s pretty incredible and by “incredible” I mean more pointless than Grecian Formula for Nasal Hair. Not only is it a piece of junk older than Senator John McCain, but it’s also got about as much power as a 1970 AMC Gremlin running BioFuel recycled from Jack in the Box. With its 94-pound double-action trigger, you’d be lucky to hit a drive in movie screen from the front row. But other than that, it’s a swell handgun, even if it’s not legal in Maryland.

I have to admit, this conundrum really stumped me. After all, my shotgun is outright dangerous. Well, at least it LOOKS dangerous. It’s got laser beams up front, and we all know one of those could put someone’s eye out. Not only that, it’s got a high capacity tactical light on the front which carries 100 lumens. You can beam lumens all day before you have to think about reloading more. I also hear that if you hold that light close to someone’s face for 137 straight hours that it can cause minor redness and irritation.

So how did it work out? It was a completely uneventful trip – shotgun and all. Those legislative idiots never even knew how scared they should have been.

So what did I learn?

If at first you don’t succeed, try a different gun.


Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon. You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.