Strict gun laws in DC have been in place since 1976. The District of Columbia v. Heller, a landmark case in the United States Supreme Court, established “the right of law-abiding people to bear arms in defense of themselves and others.” It is an individual right and sets forth strict rules for obtaining a permit to own or carry firearms.
You need a lawyer with proven experience in successfully defending clients with firearm charges if:
The recent firearm and ammunition laws enacted by DC City Council and new federal laws and regulations can affect your ability to defend yourself with a gun in the District. For example, you could get into trouble simply for traveling with a firearm or ammo, carrying the wrong kind of ammo for a weapon you own and trying to bring it into DC, or possessing an illegal weapon anywhere within the city’s jurisdiction.
It is unlawful to carry any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded, in the District unless you are a resident of the District. If you are a non-resident, it is only lawful to carry a gun if it is being transported for lawful purposes, such as hunting or competition. In addition, possessing, selling, or transferring any firearm in the District is unlawful.
It is unlawful to have any such weapon unless lawfully secured in a dwelling, business premises, or vehicle for which it is designed and sturdy enough to contain the weapon. Weapons that are not secured must be unloaded or locked up out of plain view. The exception is if you are going somewhere where federal law allows you to possess the gun legally.
This includes carrying a concealed firearm within the beltline, a weapon on the hip that is not entirely covered by clothing, or a firearm in a purse, bag, or briefcase that is not completely enclosed. In addition, you may use or carry a gun within your home, business premises, and other areas where you have lawful control and possession.
The District allows guns and ammunition to be transported in vehicles from any place except government buildings or courtrooms. However, you must carry documentation of where you are transporting the gun (e.g., registration forms, hunting license) and proof that you have proper authorization to possess it (e.g., out-of-state permit).
For the law, possession includes keeping a firearm in your home or car, while carrying includes having the weapon loaded or in plain sight. You can be lawfully arrested for possessing a gun outside your home if the police have probable cause to believe you are engaged in unlawful activity. The police do not need to witness you with a gun; they can get your driver’s license number and ascertain that you have possessed a weapon.
It is not unlawful for DC residents to carry firearms outside their homes; it is only unlawful for non-residents to possess one within any portion of the city where it is illegal to carry guns. However, suppose you are arrested for carrying a gun on the street of DC. In that case, you need a lawyer to help you fight the charges, as your gun possession charges may involve other federal law violations.
What types of Weapons are illegal to own? It is unlawful to possess or sell a machine gun in the District. The only way you can legally obtain a machine gun is if it was manufactured before 1899 or if the government distributed it for use in military service. If you have been convicted of any felony, you cannot possess any firearm unless it has been declared forfeited by the Court and destroyed, sold, and made to the government. Possessing or carrying a sawed-off shotgun or rifle in the District is unlawful.
Possessing a firearm, knife, or another dangerous weapon on school grounds is illegal unless used as part of a contract with the school. If you are carrying or possessing explosives in DC, you must have a license from the Fire Marshal, but you cannot use them for recreational purposes.
To register, residents must complete a form to apply for a permit from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Residents must also complete a separate document if they want to apply for an FFL (Federal Firearms License) to sell or transfer firearms. You must provide the following information on each form:
If you own more than one pistol or rifle, you must list them individually on each form. You may submit multiple applications if you own multiple guns. Each application is valid for five years and must be renewed annually unless it is suspended or revoked by the police chief.
Non-residents must be 21 years of age and possess a license to carry a concealed weapon in their home state if they want a permit to carry in DC. In addition, the law enforcement agency where the permit was issued, along with the name of the issuing authority and the license expiration date, must be included on the application form.
The application must be presented to the Police District of Columbia and is valid for five years. The applicant must also pass a Metropolitan Police Department firearms test that includes shooting proficiency, ammunition identification, and an NBC (National Ballistic Center) biohazard course.
The law requires residents over 16 to register with the police department and obtain a hunting license if they own or possess one or more rifles or shotguns. Residents must have hunting licenses if they hunt on District lands, such as National Park Service lands, national forests, or private land within the city limits. However, they do not need one if they hunt on their property outside of the city limits.
Any resident who is over 16 years of age may apply for a hunting license in DC. The application form is obtained from your local police department or by calling the Hunting Division at (202) 576-6095. Hunting licenses are valid for three years and do not require renewal. The police will also issue an identification card for anyone who applies for a hunting license, but it does not authorize them to hunt in DC.
In DC, carrying a gun is considered a misdemeanor unless it is in plain sight, which becomes a felony. The law also says that you cannot be arrested for having a gun in your car if the gun is not loaded. However, if the police have probable cause to believe you are engaged in unlawful activity, they can arrest you for possessing a firearm outside your home.