The District of Columbia has notoriously strict gun laws. However, a series of court cases in the Supreme Court and lower federal courts have, to some extent, made obtaining a concealed carry permit feasible. As discussed in previous posts, several important cases have chipped away at the District’s prohibition of the possession of, registration, and carrying of firearms in the city.
The purpose of this post is not to be a treatise on these cases but its important to note the general holdings in these cases. In 2008, the Supreme Court, in Heller, held that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution applied to the District of Columbia and stated possessing a firearm at home for self-defense was a constitutional right. In reaction to that decision, the City Council passed cumbersome regulatory laws that permitted individuals to register a firearm to possess at home for the purpose of self-defense. Simultaneously, the City Council barred anyone from carrying a pistol outside their home or place of business.
In 2014, a judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, in Palmer, held that DC’s absolute prohibition on carrying a pistol violated the Second Amendment. As a result of that case, dozens of felony carrying a pistol prosecutions were dismissed. In response to Palmer, the City Council passed legislation that permitted the issuance of concealed carry permits with a number of strict requirements, including the requirement that the applicant demonstrate a “special need” distinguishable from the general public for self-defense. Finally, in Wrenn, in 2017, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit invalidated that “special need” requirement.
Accordingly, it remains difficult but possible to obtain a concealed carry permit in the District of Columbia. Several requirements exist for eligibility to apply:
1. The applicant must be over the age of 21;
2. The applicant must meet all requirements for registering the firearm in the District;
3. The applicant must not have suffered in the previous five years from any mental illness or condition that makes him or her a danger to herself or others;
4. The applicant must complete a firearms training course certified by the Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department;
5. The applicant must reside in the District or have a business in the District;
Additional requirements include not being an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of drugs (other than medical prescriptions). The firearms training course must include 16 hours of training and cover topics specified in the regulations.
There is a rigorous application process that requires the applicant to fill out a lengthy application. The applicant must get fingerprinted by MPD. The applicant must further declare under penalty of perjury that he or she is not prohibited under federal, state, or District law from possessing a firearm. The applicant must also declare under penalty of perjury they will use the firearm for lawful purposes and shall be responsible for complying with all DC laws.
The Metropolitan Police Department will investigate each aspect of the application before issuing the permit. There are also a number of provisions that permit law enforcement to revoke an existing license. Moreover, if your application is denied, the regulations spell out a process to appeal the decision. Finally, out of state residents may also register to carry a concealed firearm in DC. However, there are significant restrictions and regulations governing that process as well.
Bottom line is if you are coming from out of state its best to leave your firearm outside the District. Also, remember that DC firearm registration requirements are additional and separate from obtaining a concealed carry permit. If you or someone you know happens to get arrested in DC for a gun or firearm offense, contact Scrofano Law PC immediately for a full case evaluation.
Applying for a License for a Handgun, Metropolitan Police Department, October 5, 2017.
Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 16-7025, United States Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.
Additional Blog Post:
Don’t Get Caught in the Crosshairs of DC’s Strict Gun Laws, March 16, 2014, No Papered: A Washington DC DUI Lawyer Blog.