Is It Legal to Own a Gun in Washington, DC?

In 2008, it was illegal for anyone living in Washington, DC, to possess a handgun on their person, in their vehicle, or even inside their own home or business. However, since the U.S. Supreme Court declared the prohibition of firearms unconstitutional in its District of Columbia v. Heller decision, rules regarding firearm licensing and ownership in the District have become more relaxed.

It is legal to own a gun in Washington, DC. However, this is provided that the gun is registered properly and you follow other regulations on firearm possession set by the District of Columbia Code. With that in mind, it is useful to know the intricacies of owning a gun in DC.

The Basic Requirements for Firearm Ownership

Currently, it is legal for residents of Washington, DC, to own handguns, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns as long as they register the firearm with the District. To be eligible to apply for a registration requirement, an applicant must meet numerous criteria outlined in D.C. Code § 7-2502.03, including:

  • Being at least 21 years old, with conditional exceptions sometimes made for registrants between 18 and 21 seeking to register long guns, whose parent(s) or guardian(s) accepts civil liability through a notarized statement for any damages caused by the registrant’s use of that long gun.
  • Having no past convictions for any felony offense or certain weapons offenses at any point.
  • Not currently under indictment for any weapons offense or violent crime.
  • Having no convictions within the past five years for narcotics offenses, assault, misdemeanor domestic violence, and certain other offenses listed in the statute.
  • Hasn’t been voluntarily or involuntarily detained in a mental hospital or institution within the past five years.
  • Not currently subject to a civil protection order issued based on a domestic violence allegation.

Open and Concealed Carry Laws in Washington, DC

It is not legal to open carry any type of firearm in Washington, DC, with exceptions made only for uniformed police officers, military service members, and security professionals performing official duties. Conversely, concealed carry of a handgun is legal with the appropriate permit, which the District will provide to qualifying applicants on a “shall issue” basis. Notably, DC does not have reciprocity with any other states regarding concealed carry licenses.

Anyone with a lawfully registered firearm may carry that firearm without restriction inside their own home, inside their place of business, while using it for a lawful recreational purpose, and while transporting it following District and federal law. When transporting firearms around DC, the firearm must be unloaded, separated from any ammunition, or either inside a locked container or—if transported by vehicle—in a compartment not accessible from the driver’s seat.

What Types of Firearms Are Illegal?

Despite recent changes to District law, it is still illegal in Washington, DC, to own any assault weapon, a machine gun, a sawed-off shotgun, a short-barreled rifle, or .50 BMG rifles. Furthermore, as per D.C. Code § 7-2505.04, possessing any handgun not included in the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale is illegal.

Call an Attorney for More Information About Gun Ownership in Washington, DC

Whether you are looking to register or buy a new weapon or are facing charges for illegal firearm ownership, reach out to our firm for skilled guidance. Our attorneys can help you understand under what circumstances it is legal to own a gun in Washington, DC, and when you may face criminal charges for doing so.