The District of Columbia has extremely strict laws when it comes to gun control. Due to the complexity of these laws, it is very easy to run afoul of them.
At the baseline, it is certainly legal for you to own a registered firearm in DC. Without an additional license to carry, however, you need to follow strict guidelines while transporting that firearm:
- If transporting using a vehicle, the firearm has to be unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported should be readily accessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle. If the transporting vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment, the firearm or ammunition has to be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console, and the firearm has to be unloaded.
- If the firearm is being transported in a manner that does not use a vehicle, the firearm must be
- inside a locked container; and
- separate from any ammunition.
Unregistered Firearms Offense in Washington, DC
A 1st-time conviction for possession of an unregistered firearm in DC is a misdemeanor offense carrying a penalty of up to 1 year of jail time and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
A 2nd or subsequent conviction for possession of an unregistered firearm is a felony offense carrying a penalty of up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $12,500.
It is also unlawful to possess ammunition without a registered firearm. This is a misdemeanor offense carrying a penalty of up to 1 year of jail time and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Note that this offense is separate from the offense of possession of an unregistered firearm, so if you are caught with a loaded unregistered firearm, the police can charge you for both the gun and the ammunition.
Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in Washington, DC
Per DC Code §22–4503, there are certain circumstances under which you are not allowed to own a gun in DC at all. These circumstances include:
- If you have been convicted of a felony.
- If you are a fugitive from justice, meaning:
- You fled to avoid prosecution for a crime or to avoid giving testimony in a criminal proceeding; or
- You have escaped from a federal, state, or local prison, jail, halfway house, or detention facility, or from the custody of a law enforcement officer.
- If you are addicted to any controlled substance.
- If you are subject to a court order requiring you to relinquish possession of any firearms.
- If you have been convicted within the past 5 years of an intrafamily offense, which means any interpersonal, intimate partner, or intrafamily violence.
The last item on the list is quite important, as an intrafamily offense can be a misdemeanor offense under DC law—such as a domestic assault that did not result in any physical injury—but will still prevent you from owning a firearm in DC.
If you violate the unlawful possession of a firearm law because you are a felon (reason 1 on the list above), the penalty is a minimum sentence of 1 year in prison and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $25,000. If you have a prior conviction for a crime of violence (defined by DC Code §23-1331(4)), the penalty goes up, resulting in a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $37,500.
If you violate the unlawful possession of a firearm law for the other listed reasons (reasons 2-5 on the list above), the penalty is a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, plus a fine of up to $25,000.
Concealed Carry (GUN) in Washington, DC
Concealed carry is, as the name would suggest, the practice of carrying a concealed weapon on one’s person. In line with its harsh stance on gun control, the DC laws on concealed carry are especially strict, making it easy to get in trouble on this issue in the District of Columbia.
One mistake people often make is assuming that, as long as they have a license for concealed carry from their home state, they will be fine bringing their gun into DC. This is a wrong assumption. DC does not honor concealed carry licenses issued by any other state.
That means if you have a license for concealed carry from another state, you are still required to apply for and receive a concealed carry license from the DC Chief of Police before you are legally allowed to carry a gun upon your person.
Many restrictions are placed upon a concealed carry license in DC. One basic requirement is that you are required to always have with you the license to carry and the registration information of the firearm you are carrying. Another is that you are not allowed to carry more ammunition than required to load the firearm twice, and no more than 20 rounds under any circumstances.
Additionally, you are not allowed to carry a firearm while consuming alcohol or while impaired. There are also places where and circumstances under which you are not allowed to carry a concealed firearm even if you do have a concealed carry license:
- A building or office occupied by the District of Columbia or its agencies.
- The building and grounds, including any adjacent parking lot of a childcare facility, preschool, elementary or secondary school, or a public or private college or university.
- A hospital or an office where medical or mental health services are the primary services provided.
- A penal institution, secure juvenile residential facility, or halfway house.
- A polling place while voting is occurring.
- A public transportation vehicle, including the Metrorail transit system and its stations.
- Any premises where alcohol is served, sold and consumed on the premises (pursuant to license issued under Title 25 of D.C. Code)
- Stadium or Arena
- Public Gathering or special event open to the public when the organizer has provided notice and posted signage prohibiting the carrying of pistols in advance of the gathering or special event.
- The public memorials on the National Mall and along the Tidal Basin, and any area where firearms are prohibited under federal law or by a federal agency, including the U.S. Capitol buildings and grounds.
- The area around the White House ( between Constitution Ave. and H St. and between 15th St. and 17th St. NW)
- The U.S. Naval Observatory and its grounds (from the perimeter of its fence to the curb of Massachusetts Ave. NW from 34th St. south on Massachusetts Ave to Observatory Circle NW)
- When a dignitary or high-ranking official of the United States or a state, local, or foreign government is moving under the protection of the MPD, the U.S Secret Service, the U.S Capitol Police, or other law enforcement agency that does not include a distance greater than 1,000 feet from the moving dignitary. ( provided notice has been given by signs or an officer’s order)
- A Demonstration in a public place (within a perimeter of 1,000 feet designated by a law enforcement agency, and notice has been given by signs or an officer’s order)
- On private residential property unless authorized by the property owner.
- A place of religious worship unless authorized by the owner or authorized agent.
- Non-residential property that is posted with conspicuous signage prohibiting the carrying of a concealed pistol.
The penalty for violation of any requirements of a license to carry includes up to 180 days of jail time and/or up to $1,000 in fines. You may also have your license to carry revoked.
Hiring the Best Washington DC Gun and Firearms Possession Lawyer
As you can see, the gun and firearms control laws in DC are both strict and complex. If you are facing charges related to gun possession in Washington DC, whether it is about an unregistered firearm or about problems with concealed carry, do not hesitate to call the expert, experienced and aggressive lawyers at Ervin Kibria Law today for a free consultation. Our accomplished and experienced DC Gun Possession Lawyers will help you work through your options and zealously advocate for the best outcome for your case.