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District of Columbia Gun Control Laws

As most people know, the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution preserves an individual's right to possess firearms:

"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

However, the District of Columbia's gun control laws are among the most restrictive in the country, requiring all firearms to be registered with the D.C Metropolitan Police Department. The following table contains more details about the District of Columbia's gun laws.

Relevant Statutes (Laws)

District of Columbia Code. Division IV. Criminal Law and Procedure and Prisoners.

Illegal Arms

D.C. prohibits possession of these firearms and deems them unregistrable:

  • Sawed-off shotguns
  • Machine guns
  • Short-barreled rifles
  • An unsafe handgun prohibited under D.C. Official Code section 7-2505.04
  • An assault weapon
  • A .50 BMG rifle

Waiting Period

10 days from the date of purchase to the date of delivery.

Who May Not Own

You are not allowed to own a firearm if you:

  • Were convicted of certain weapons offenses or a felony, which includes all crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year
  • Are under indictment for a crime of violence or a weapons offense
  • Are a fugitive from justice
  • Are addicted to any controlled substance
  • Are subject to a court order that requires you to relinquish a firearm or restrains you from harassing, assaulting, or threatening another person
  • Have not been found negligent in any firearm mishap causing death or injury to another person
Or within the last 5 years have:
  • Been convicted of a narcotics or dangerous drug offense
  • Been convicted of two or more violations of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Been convicted of an intrafamily offense punishable as a misdemeanor
  • Been acquitted of any criminal charge by reason of insanity or adjudicated a chronic alcoholic by any court
  • Been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to any mental hospital or institution
  • A history of violent behavior
  • Been the respondent in an intrafamily proceeding in which a civil protection order or a foreign protection order was issued against you

License Required?

You don't need a license. But you need to register your firearm which serves the same purpose as a license.

Concealed Carry License Required?

Yes, you need a license to carry a concealed firearm in D.C.

Open Carried Allowed?

Open carry is prohibited in Washington D.C.

Eligibility for a Concealed Carry License

To be eligible for a concealed carry license, you must:
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Live or work in D.C.
  • Not suffer from mental illness or another condition that is likely to create a substantial risk for yourself or others
  • Appear for an in-person interview at the police headquarters
  • Take a firearm safety training course
  • Get a registration certificate for the firearm you are seeking a permit for
  • Be a suitable person to get a permit

Nonresidents with a valid concealed carry permit from another state can apply to get a concealed carry permit.

Machine Gun Laws

Possession, sale, or transfer of machine guns is prohibited in D.C.

Penalties for Illegal Firearm Possession

  • Possession of a firearm by a person with a felony conviction is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The minimum sentence for this violation is 1 year. If the prior conviction is for a crime of violence, the punishment can go up to 15 years.
  • You will be sentenced to not less than 2 years and no more than 10 years in prison if you are in possession of a firearm while you:
    • Are a fugitive from justice
    • Are addicted to controlled substances
    • Are subject to an order for protection
    • Are required by a court order to relinquish possession of a firearm
    • Have been convicted of an intrafamily offense in the past five years
  • Possessing a firearm without having it properly registered is an offense that is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Penalties for Illegal Possession on or Near School Grounds

The punishment for illegally possessing a gun on or near school grounds is up to double the prison time or fine otherwise authorized to be imposed.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Contact a D.C. Attorney To Learn More

D.C. gun laws vary considerably. What may be legal for a rifle may not be for a handgun and vice versa. In light of these variations, you should contact a D.C. criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the law(s) you are researching.

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