Understanding Gun Laws in D.C.

The District of Columbia (D.C.) has some of the strictest gun possession and registration laws in the United States. These regulations can be difficult to understand whether you are new in town or have lived in D.C. your entire life. Fortunately, understanding gun laws in D.C. can be much easier with guidance from a seasoned gun defense attorney who has helped people like you deal successfully with registration issues, licensing, and gun-related criminal charges.

Basic Registration Requirements and Restrictions

According to D.C. Code § 7-2502.02, it is illegal to possess or attempt to register any of the following types of firearms:

  • Assault weapons
  • Machine guns
  • Sawed-off shotguns or short-barreled rifles
  • .50 BMG rifles
  • Any handguns deemed “unsafe” under D.C. Code §7-2505.04

It is also illegal in D.C. for anyone to possess a firearm magazine with a capacity greater than ten rounds.

All other firearms—including handguns, shotguns, rifles, and revolvers—must be registered through a process with the D.C. government. Additionally, anyone purchasing a firearm in the District must wait a minimum of ten days after completing the purchase before they can take possession of the gun in question.


D.C. Code § 7-2502.03 sets out specific qualifications that all registrants must meet to legally register a firearm in D.C. For example, registrants must be at least 21 years old in most situations. However, applicants between 18 and 21 may be granted registration if their parent or guardian provides a notarized statement that affirms they accept all civil liability for any damages the applicant causes through improper use. In addition, prior criminal convictions will make an applicant ineligible for registration.

Concealed Carry Laws in D.C.

After a recent federal court ruling overturning older laws, the District of Columbia allows properly permitted individuals to carry their gun concealed while in D.C. The Metropolitan Police Department grants these permits on a “shall issue” basis. This means that an individual must meet certain criteria under state law to obtain this permit.

Currently, D.C. does not allow open carry anywhere in the District, regardless of whether a firearm owner is licensed for concealed carry. However, D.C. Code § 22-4504.01 allows any person with a valid registration for a firearm to carry sed firearm without restriction inside their own home or place of business. This is only if those individuals are using their gun lawfully for recreational purposes or while transporting it under applicable district, state, and federal laws.

The Impact of Gun-Free Zones

Certain areas in D.C. are classified as “gun-free zones,” with school zones being the most common and widely seen areas of this nature around the District. Anyone who brings a firearm, registered or not, into a gun-free zone may be subject to enhanced criminal penalties.

Let Our Attorneys Help You Understand D.C. Gun Laws

Understanding gun laws in D.C. is something a knowledgeable attorney could provide irreplaceable assistance with. Call today for a consultation.