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FAQs about Purchasing a Handgun for Use in the District of Columbia

The most common scenario for handgun transactions through the Metropolitan Police Department is for new purchases of handguns. The questions below specifically address questions about handgun transactions. For information about purchasing and transferring long guns, or transferring any handgun that is already lawfully owned in another jurisdiction, please refer to the other information on the webpage titled Firearms Registration in the District of Columbia, or call (202) 671-6563.

Q: I would like to purchase a handgun. What do I need to do?

A: Have the handgun dealer where you are making your purchase contact the Federal Handguns Licensing Office (FFL) and send your purchase to an Authorized DC Federal Firearms License Dealer.

Q: What happens once the FFL receives my handgun? Will I be notified?

A: Yes. You will be notified by the FFL.

Q: What do I need to bring with me to my initial appointment?

A: Your initial visit will last approximately 30-45 minutes. To prepare, it is highly recommended that you complete -- and sign electronically -- the required documents in advance. Clicking the "Submit and Sign" button will automatically submit your documents to MPD as required.

NOTE: If applying for a Concealed Carry Pistol License, in addition to the other documents listed above, please complete the Concealed Carry Pistol License Application and see the application instructions.

Q: How many appointments are there for the purchase of a handgun? What happens and what is the duration of each visit?

A: For handgun registrations, there is one visit you will need to make in person. It will last approximately 30-45 minutes. During this visit:

  • Identification and proof of residency will be verified
  • A fingerprint check will be conducted
  • Photo will be taken and your electronic signature captured

When registration is complete, the certificate and card will be mailed to you.

Q: What happens between the first and second visit while I am waiting?

A: MPD conducts a background check to confirm that the applicant meets the requirements under District law.

Q: Is there an age requirement to register a handgun?

A: Yes. A person must be 21 years of age or older to register a handgun. However, a long gun may be registered to a person the age of 18-21 years old with a notarized statement affirming authorization from a parent or guardian.

Q: How long does the whole process take before I will be able to receive my registration(s) and card(s)?

A: The purchaser will be directed to complete the application documents and schedule an appointment to come in to the registration office for the initial appointment. The registration and card(s) should be available within 14 – 21 days of the first appointment.

Q: What would disqualify me from registering a gun?

A: Under District and US law, an applicant must:

  • 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.
  • Not be a fugitive from justice.
  • 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; (5) of a misdemeanor involving certain firearms violations. (6) Stalking; or (7) violation of an Extreme Risk Protection Order.
    • 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.

Q: Is there a limit on the amount of ammunition that can be carried in magazine?

A: It is illegal to possess a magazine that holds more than ten rounds of ammunition in the District of Columbia. D.C. Official Code § 7-2506.01 prohibits the possession of a high capacity ammunition feeding devices.