Firearm Registration General Requirements - Study Guide
I. Firearms Eligible for Registration
In general, rifles, shotguns, revolvers, and handguns may be registered in the District of Columbia. Per D.C. Official Code § 7-2502.02, registration of the following firearms is prohibited:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Machine guns
- Short-barreled rifles
- An unsafe handgun prohibited under D.C. Official Code § 7-2505.04
- An assault weapon; or
- A .50 BMG rifle
For definitions of and more information about these prohibitions, please see the MPD publication, “Firearms Eligible for Registration,” which is available at FRS or at the gun registration page.
II. Registrant Eligibility
Registration eligibility is summarized below. For complete details, please refer to D.C. Official Code §7-2502.03. To obtain a registration certificate, an applicant or registrant must:
- Be 21 years of age or older. (Applicants between the age of 18 and 21 may qualify to register a long gun if they have a notarized statement from their parent or guardian stating that the parent or guardian assumes civil liability for all damages resulting from the applicant’s use of the firearm. This special registration, however, will expire on the applicant’s 21st birthday.)
- Not stand convicted of certain weapons offenses, or a felony in this or any other jurisdiction (which includes all crimes punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year).
- Not be under indictment for a crime of violence or a weapons offense.
Within the previous five years:
- Not stand convicted: (1) of a narcotics or dangerous drug offense; (2) under D.C. Official Code § 22-404 (assaults and threats) or § 22-407 (threats to do bodily harm), or a violation of a similar statute in another jurisdiction; (3) of two or more violations of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; (4) of an intrafamily offense punishable as a misdemeanor; or (5) of a misdemeanor involving certain firearms violations.
- Not have been acquitted of any criminal charge by reason of insanity or adjudicated a chronic alcoholic by any court.
- Not have been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to any mental hospital or institution.
- Not have a history of violent behavior.
- Not have been the respondent in an intrafamily proceeding in which a civil protection order or a foreign protection order was issued against the applicant.
- Not appear to suffer from a physical defect which would make it unsafe to possess and use a firearm safely and responsibly.
- Not have been found negligent in any firearm mishap causing death or injury to another human being.
- Not otherwise be ineligible to possess a firearm under D.C. Official Code § 22-4503.
III. Duties and Responsibilities of the Registrant
Registered Firearms and Registration Certificate
Registrants must file a police report at a police district station or at FRS immediately upon discovery of loss, theft, or destruction of a registration certificate or registered firearm.
Registrants must notify FRS of:
- Any change of name or address that differs from the one recorded on the original certificate.
- Any sale, transfer or other disposition of a registered firearm.
The registration certificate must be returned to MPD immediately when the registered firearm has been lost, stolen, destroyed, sold, transferred, or otherwise disposed of.
The registrant must have the registration certificate in his or her possession whenever he has possession of the firearm, and show it to a member of MPD or other law enforcement officer upon demand.
A violation of any of the above-listed duties may result in:
- First violation: a civil fine of $100
- Second violation: a civil fine of $500, revocation of the registration of the applicable firearm, and a 5-year prohibition on subsequent registrations
- Third violation: a civil fine of $500, revocation of the registration of the applicable firearm, and permanent prohibition on subsequent registrations
Firearms or ammunition may not be loaned, borrowed, given, or rented to or from another person.
Individuals can only sell a firearm to a licensed dealer in the District of Columbia. Firearms may not be pawned.
Storage of firearms
- Policy: It is recommended that each registrant keep any firearm in his or her possession unloaded and either disassembled or secured by a trigger lock, gun safe, locked box, or other secure device.
Criminal Offense: The law requires that no person shall store or keep any loaded firearm on any premises under his control if he knows or reasonably should know that a minor under the age of 18 is likely to gain access to the firearm without the permission of the parent or guardian of the minor unless such person:
- Keeps the firearm in a securely locked box, secured container, or in a location which a reasonable person would believe to be secure; or
- Carries the firearm on his person or within such close proximity that he can readily retrieve and use it as if he carried it on his person.
- A person who violates subsection (b) of this section is guilty of criminally negligent storage of a firearm and, except as provided in paragraph (ii) of this subsection, shall be fined not more than $1,000, imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both.
- A person who violates subsection (b) of this section and the minor causes injury or death to themselves or another shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
- The provisions of paragraphs (i) and (ii) of this subsection shall not apply if the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry or burglary to any premises by any person.
It is a criminal offense to discharge a firearm in the District of Columbia without first obtaining a special written permit from the Chief of Police authorizing the discharge.
IV. Limitations on Registration of Handguns
Pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 7-2502.03(e), the Department cannot register more than one handgun per registrant during any 30-day period. However, a new resident of the District may register more than one handgun if those handguns were lawfully owned in another jurisdiction.
V. Carrying Firearms
In general, carrying a firearm in the District is prohibited.
D.C. Official Code § 22-4504. Carrying concealed weapons; possession of weapons during commission of crime of violence; penalty
(a) No person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, or any deadly or dangerous weapon capable of being so concealed. Whoever violates this section shall be punished as provided in § 22-4515, except that:
(1) A person who violates this section by carrying a pistol or any deadly or dangerous weapon, in a place other than the person's dwelling place, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, shall be fined not more than $ 5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both; or
(2) If the violation of this section occurs after a person has been convicted in the District of Columbia of a violation of this section or of a felony, either in the District of Columbia or another jurisdiction, the person shall be fined not more than $ 10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.
(a-1) Except as otherwise permitted by law, no person shall carry within the District of Columbia a rifle or shotgun. A person who violates this subsection shall be subject to the criminal penalties set forth in subsection (a)(1) and (2) of this section.
However, there are exceptions for legally registered firearms.
D.C. Official Code § 22-4504.01. Authority to carry firearm in certain places and for certain purposes.
Notwithstanding any other law, a person holding a valid registration for a firearm may carry the firearm:
Within the registrant's home;
While it is being used for lawful recreational purposes;
While it is kept at the registrant's place of business; or
While it is being transported for a lawful purpose as expressly authorized by District or federal statute and in accordance with the requirements of that statute.
VI. Transporting Firearms
District transport law:
§ 22-4504.02. Lawful transportation of firearms.
(a) Any person who is not otherwise prohibited by the law from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be permitted to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry the firearm [see § 22-4504.01, above] to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry the firearm if the firearm is transported in accordance with this section.
(b) (1) If the transportation of the firearm is by a vehicle, the firearm shall be unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported shall be readily accessible or directly accessible from the passenger compartment of the transporting vehicle.
(2) If the transporting vehicle does not have a compartment separate from the driver's compartment, the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console, and the firearm shall be unloaded.
(c) If the transportation of the firearm is in a manner other than in a vehicle, the firearm shall be:
(2) Inside a locked container; and
(3) Separate from any ammunition.
Federal transport law:
U.S. Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 44, 926a "Interstate Transportation of Firearms";
Notwithstanding any other provision of any law or any rule or regulation of a State or any political subdivision thereof, any person who is not otherwise prohibited by this chapter from transporting, shipping, or receiving a firearm shall be entitled to transport a firearm for any lawful purpose from any place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm to any other place where he may lawfully possess and carry such firearm if, during such transportation the firearm is unloaded, and neither the firearm nor any ammunition being transported is readily accessible or is directly accessible from the passenger compartment of such transporting vehicle: Provided, That in the case of a vehicle without a compartment separate from the driver’s compartment the firearm or ammunition shall be contained in a locked container other than the glove compartment or console.
VII. Revocation of Registration Certificate
Registration will be revoked if:
Information furnished in the application for registration proves to be intentionally false.
The registered firearm becomes unregisterable under Part I: Firearms Approved for Registration.
The registrant becomes ineligible under the requirements in Part II, “Registrant Eligibility.”
VII. Procedures of Denial or Revocation
If an application for registration is denied or a registration certificate is revoked, the applicant or registrant will be notified by mail. The applicant or registrant will have 15 days from the receipt of such notification to appeal to the Metropolitan Police Department with further evidence for consideration. If the applicant does not respond within the required 15 days, the denial or revocation will become final.
After having been notified of a final unfavorable decision, the applicant or registrant must peacefully surrender his firearm to FRS as detailed in Part IX: Voluntary Surrender of Firearms, Destructive Devices, or Ammunition, remove the firearm from the District, or otherwise lawfully dispose of the firearm.
IX. Possession and Sale of Ammunition
In general, a person shall not possess ammunition within the District unless:
He is a licensed dealer.
He is a holder of a valid registration certificate for a firearm.
He holds an ammunition collector’s certificate effective prior to September 25, 1976.
He temporarily possesses ammunition while participating in a firearms training and safety class conducted by a firearms instructor.
No person shall possess restricted ammunition, defined as any bullet designed for use in a pistol which, when fired from a pistol from a barrel of 5? or less in length, is capable of penetrating a commercially available body armor with a penetration resistance equal to or grater than that of 18 layers of Kevlar. (D.C .Official Code § 7-2501.01 (13a))
No person in the District shall possess, sell, or transfer any large capacity ammunition feeding device regardless of whether the device is attached to a firearm. A “large capacity ammunition feeding device” means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.
X. Responsibility of Estate Executors or Administrators
The executor of or administrator of an estate containing a firearm shall notify the FRS within 30 days of his appointment. Until the lawful disposition of such firearm, the executor or administrator shall be charged with the duties and responsibilities as described in Part IV, “Duties and Responsibilities of the Registrant.”
XI. Voluntary Surrender of Firearms
If a person or organization within the District voluntarily and peaceably delivers and abandons to the Chief of Police any firearm, destructive device or ammunition at any time, such delivery shall preclude the arrest and prosecution of such person on a charge of violating any provision of this section with respect to the firearm, destructive device, or ammunition voluntarily delivered. Delivery under this section may be made at any police district, station, or central headquarters, or by summoning a police officer to the person’s residence or place of business. Every firearm and destructive device to be delivered and abandoned to the Chief under this section shall be unloaded and securely wrapped in a package, and, in the case of delivery to a police facility, the package shall be carried in open view. No person who delivers and abandons a firearm, destructive device, or ammunition under this section, shall be required to furnish identification, photographs or fingerprints. No amount of money shall be paid for any firearm, destructive device, or ammunition delivered and abandoned under this section. (D.C. Official Code § 7-2507.05 (a))
XII. General Penalties
Pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 7-2507.06, any person who violates certain provisions of Firearms Control Regulations Act, as amended, shall, upon conviction, be fined not more than $1,000 or be imprisoned for not more than one year, or both, except that:
A person who knowingly or intentionally sells, transfers, or distributes a firearm, destructive device, or ammunition to a person under 18 years of age shall be fined not more than $ 10,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both.
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, any person who is convicted a second time for possessing an unregistered firearm shall be fined not more than $ 5,000 or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.
(B) A person who in the person's dwelling place, place of business, or on other land possessed by the person, possesses a pistol, or firearm that could otherwise be registered, shall be fined not more than $ 1,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
A person convicted of knowingly possessing restricted pistol bullets in violation of § 7-2506.01(3) may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not to exceed 10 years and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a mandatory-minimum term of not less than 1 year and shall not be released from prison or granted probation or suspension of sentence prior to serving the mandatory-minimum sentence, and, in addition, may be fined an amount not to exceed $ 10,000.
Additional penalties may apply.