The District of Columbia has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. While federal courts have on several occasions struck down D.C. gun laws, the city still maintains some of the most restrictive policies for gun owners.The District of Columbia has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation. While federal courts have on several occasions struck down D.C. gun laws, the city still maintains some of the most restrictive policies for gun owners.
The first step in lawfully possessing a firearm in the District of Columbia is registering it with the Metropolitan Police Department. This must be done at MPD headquarters located at:
Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters
300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 3058
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: (202) 727-4275
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9 am – 5 pm
To register a firearm in the District of Columbia, you must meet a series of strict regulatory requirements. In addition, once registered, this only entitles you to lawfully possess a firearm in the home for purposes of self-defense. Registration in and of itself does not give you the legal authority to carry the weapon.
Its also important to note that certain weapons are not permitted to be registered in the District and therefore always illegal to possess or carry. These weapons include: (1) sawed-off shotguns; (2) machine guns; (3) short-barreled rifles; (4) an “unsafe handgun,” which is defined as a “pistol that is not on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale”; an assault weapon; or a .50 BMG rifle.
D.C. Code Section 7-2502.03 provides the requirements for eligibility for firearm registration in the District of Columbia. The summarized requirements include:
1. The applicant must be over 21 years of age.
2. Or be between the age of 18 and 21 and submit a notarized statement from their parent or guardian attesting they agree to be liable for any damages that result from the applicant’s gun use.
3. The registrant must not currently be under indictment for a crime of violence or weapons offense.
4. The registrant must not have been previously found guilty of (1) a drug crime; (2) assault or threats in DC or a similar statute in another state; (3) have two or more alcohol related driving offenses; (4) have been convicted of a domestic violence offense; or (5) convicted of stalking; (6) be convicted of a misdemeanor firearm offense ALL within the last five years.
5. Within the last five years, the registrant must not have avoided any criminal offense by reason of insanity as a defense or determined to be a chronic alcoholic by a court.
6. The registrant must not have been committed to a mental health hospital within the last five years.
7. The registrant must not have a history of violent behavior.
8. The registrant must not have been the respondent in a civil protection order or foreign protection order where an order was entered against the applicant.
9. Not appear to have a physical health problem that would make it unsafe for the applicant to possess and use the firearm safely and responsibly.
10. The registrant must not otherwise lack eligibility for possession under D.C. Code Section 22-4503, which include being convicted of a felon, being a fugitive from justice, addicted to a controlled substance, among other disqualifications.
With that exhaustive list, there is no guarantee successful registration given the myriad regulatory requirements. Even if the applicant gets approved, a number of strict duties and responsibilities exist to maintain lawful registration. These duties include filing a police report immediately upon discovering the loss, theft, or destruction of the firearm previously registered. The registrant must also notify the police if they change their address or sell or transfer the firearm. Finally, the registrant must return the registration certificate to MPD if the gun is lost, stolen, transferred, sold, or otherwise transferred from the registrant’s possession.
The registered owner must also always have in their possession the registration when he or she possesses the firearm and provide it to law enforcement on demand. A violation of any of these requirements can result in civil penalties for the first violation. The second violation can result in the revocation of the registration and a five-year ban on registering firearms. Finally, a third violation can result in a civil fine, revocation of registration, and a permanent ban from registering firearms in the District of Columbia.
The unstated but fairly obvious purpose of these regulation is to prevent folks from owning guns in the District of Columbia whether they are law abiding citizens or not. Given the complexities of the law and the potential penalties for running afoul of D.C. gun laws, its may be important to seek legal counsel to guide you through the process. Contact Scrofano Law PC today if in need of legal advice or representation if arrested a for a DC gun crime.
Stay tuned for our next post on the requirements for obtaining a lawful carry permit in the District of Columbia.
D.C. Code Section 22-4503, City Council of the District of Columbia.
D.C. Code Section 7-2502.03, City Council of the District of Columbia.
Additional Blog Posts:
Don’t Get Caught in the Crosshairs of DC’s Gun Laws, March 16, 2014, No Papered: A Washington DC DUI Lawyer Blog.
The Effect of Palmer v. DC on DC Gun Laws, February 16, 2015, No Papered: A Washington DC DUI Lawyer Blog.