According to Maryland statutes, Title 5, Subtitle 2, § 5-205 (b) (6) (my emphasis), someone who
suffers from a mental disorder as defined in § 10-101(i)(2) of the Health - General Article and has a history of violent behavior against the person or another;
is disqualified from possessing a "rifle or shotgun".
How is having a "history" of violent behavior defined? More specifically, is this based on clinical factors specifically related to violence as a symptom of the person's mental disorder (meaning that whether any person is disqualified can be determined by reviewing medical records), or is it a practical definition, evaluating the behavior of the person independent of any specific legal or medical findings of violence or risks of violence? One might argue that having a "history of violent behavior" means having a conviction for such behavior, but the statute in question already provides for several ways of disqualifying a person as a result of past criminal convictions, implying that this is intended to be interpreted separately - i.e. that a person might have a "history" of violent behavior despite never having been formally convicted of any of it.
I already checked 10-101(i)(2) and it does define "mental disorder", but not a "history of violent behavior" associated with such a disorder.
Most of the other disqualifying criteria in the statute are more specifically defined - for example, one of the other factors is being (my emphasis) "a habitual drunkard as defined in § 5-101 of this title" rather than "a habitual drunkard". That definition itself is conviction-based - that is, just drinking a lot, or even "problem" drinking is not enough to trigger firearms disqualification - one must fulfill the very specific criteria for quantity and recency of alcohol-related convictions.
Title 5, Subtitle 2, § 5-205 (e) provides a means of seeking relief for a disqualification under (b) (6), but I'm asking about the criteria that triggers the disqualification itself. That is, it appears that there are two categories of people with mental disorders here:
- Persons with history of violence (but no disqualifying convictions for such violence), who must petition for relief under § 5-205 (e).
- Persons without a history of violence, who need not seek relief under § 5-205 (e) because they were never banned from possession in the first place.
The question, then, is what distinguishes these two populations. Is it bare facts of the past? Is it based on formal adjudications of violence not rising to the level of a criminal conviction (e.g. lawsuits, school discipline, etc.)? A formal clinical determination by the diagnosing clinician? A determination made by a special state behavioral specialist?
The process for petitioning for relief also requires (Title 5, Subtitle 1, § 5-133.3 (d) (1)) that one disclose "a complete and accurate statement explaining the reason why the applicant is prohibited....", meaning that this procedure would appear to be useless for determining whether a person is currently disqualified. That is, someone who doesn't know whether they have a disqualifying "history of violent behavior" can't at the same time disclose this history.