Category: Gun Possession/CPWL

Gun laws in American continue to serve as one of the most hotly contested issues. Some on one side of the debate believe that all guns need to be criminalized, unless for security forces. In contrast, on the flip side, others believe they have a Constitutional right to own weapons and any regulation on that right would present an infringement. 

As a result, different legislators have passed or failed a multitude of measures. This has made navigating the various gun laws in the country difficult since they change across jurisdictions. Where then do the gun laws for Washington D.C. stand? What requirements are there for carrying concealed weapons or restrictions on ammunition? How do they differ from their neighbors? 

Washington D.C. – Gun Rules and Regulations

In Washington, D.C., surrounded by government buildings and federal officials, it comes as no surprise that there are relatively stringent regulations on the types, styles, and manners in which firearms are held in position. 

Residents of the District are allowed to possess a handgun for self-defense purposes within their home and places of employment. It must be properly registered with the municipality. Carrying a concealed weapon is allowed in Washington, D.C., but only if the application process is filed and approved pursuant to D.C. Code 7-2509.02. 

Concealed Carry in DCGiven the number of law enforcement personnel in the jurisdiction, there are a varied of exemptions from the registration requirements, including any member of the military or government authorized to carry a weapon while on duty. Anyone who temporarily holds a firearm registered to another, while in the home of the registrant, is also exempt from penalty under the law. 

The requirements for registration include a long list of personal background information to get a sense of the individual requesting permission to own a weapon. Outside of name, place of birth, employment, type of firearm, etc., there are more extensive components including descriptions of any case in which the applicant may have been involved in where a firearm was present, where the firearm is going to be kept, and even, “other information as the Chief determines is necessary to carry out the provision’s of the District’s gun registration requirements.” 

An online firearm safety training course is part of the registration process. It is also required to bring the firearm in for inspection prior to being registered. The registration process, once all documentation has been attained, will be approved or denied within 60 days of submission. 

Additional rules include a 10-day waiting period between the purchasing and acquisition of the firearm, regulation on high-capacity magazines, bans on assault weapons and machine guns, and limits on the number of handguns one can register (only one (1) over a 30-day period). 

It should also be noted that open carry is illegal, as is the possession of ammunition, not for a registered firearm. This means that to have specific ammunition, it must be for the valid firearm registered to that individual. There previously were regulations on specific types of ammunition, even if for a firearm properly registered to that individual. However, these have been relaxed over the past few years, outside of 50BMG, given that these remain completely prohibited in Washington, or any armor-penetrating ammunition. 

Maryland and Virginia – Gun Rules and Regulations

Despite sharing borders, there are some key differences people should know when it comes to carrying weapons across these boundaries. 

Maryland is the most similar to Washington D.C., receiving an A- from the Gifford Law Center to Prevention of Gun Violence. Virginia received a D grade. It should be noted that Maryland allows some local regulation of weapons, which means that even with the state, there may be regulations that apply in one town or county but do not apply in another. Despite having similar rules, including types of weapons, wait periods for both purchases, and between individual firearm registrations, not everything carries over between Maryland and Washington D.C.  

As such, those who may be licensed to carry or possess a weapon in Maryland may not be legally covered when doing so in Washington, D.C. It is important to make sure that in the case of using a firearm in Washington D.C. that is registered in Maryland, any required documentation is filed. 

Virginia and Washington D.C. gun laws differ quite substantially. There is no background check required for the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals, no bans on high caliber rifles or high-capacity magazines, no wait periods before the purchasing of a firearm, or even a requirement to report a stolen firearm. 

Concealed carry must be done with a license. As a result of this, bringing in a firearm from Virginia into Washington D.C. could violate a variety of different district laws – as such, it is important to make sure any and all documentation, licenses, and laws are followed to prevent problems. 

Arrested on a Gun Charge?

If you have been arrested or charged with a gun offense, like Carrying a Pistol Without a License, in D.C. or Maryland, contact Bruckheim & Patel to have one of our criminal defense lawyers take a look at your case and provide a free consultation. 

D.C.’s firearm laws have been loosened considerably over the course of the last decade. Whereas ten years ago, a D.C. resident could not even own a handgun in his or her home, now a resident can own a handgun and carry it in most public places. Prior to 2008, D.C. had a complete ban on handguns and required an individual to have a license to carry firearms (rifles, shotguns, etc.) even inside his or her own home.

Landmark Case Regarding Rifles and Shotguns

Beginning in 2008 with D.C. v. Heller, as a matter of first impression, the Supreme Court examined an individual’s Second Amendment right to bear arms for self-defense. In this landmark case, the Court struck down D.C.’s long-standing ban on handguns and the requirement that rifles and shotguns be kept bound by a trigger-locking device or disassembled and unloaded. As a result, D.C. law then allowed individuals to carry handguns in their own homes, so long as the handguns were registered. Still, there wasn’t any provision allowing individuals to carry firearms outside of their homes.

Later, in 2014, Palmer v. D.C. held that the D.C. gun registration statute’s prohibition on carrying firearms outside of the home was unconstitutional. D.C. residents were then allowed to obtain a permit to carry a firearm outside of their homes if they demonstrated a “good reason” for self-defense. “Good reason” meant that the individual had a “special need” to carry a firearm that was distinct from the rest of the community. This “good reason” could include having a job that required an employee to transport valuable items or large amounts of cash. Living in a neighborhood with a high crime rate was not a sufficient basis to constitute a “special need” for self-defense under the law. Thus, many D.C. residents felt as though the permit requirements were far too restrictive to the point that it was nearly impossible to obtain a license to carry.

Successful Preliminary Injunction Barring “Good Reason” Requirement

In 2016, Brian Wrenn and the Second Amendment Foundation sought a preliminary injunction barring the enforcement of D.C.’s “good reason” requirement, and failed. Following this case, Matthew Grace and the Pink Pistols, an LGBT group that fights for the Second Amendment rights of sexual minorities, sought the same preliminary injunction and succeeded.

In July of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia combined the appeals from both of these cases and eventually ruled in Wrenn v. D.C. that the “special need” ordinance was unconstitutional. The court’s reasoning was similar to that of the Supreme Court’s reasoning in Heller. In Heller, the Court determined that a total ban on handguns amounted to a categorical deprivation of Second Amendment rights, and that citizens must be allowed to defend themselves against threats faced by the general community. Following this, the Wrenn court held that the Second Amendment must be read to cover a class of citizens with “common levels of competence and responsibility.” In other words, since the general public is entitled to self-defense, and individuals face, on average, the same degree of danger as one another, these individuals must be permitted the same means to defend themselves (i.e. by carrying a handgun). In her dissenting opinion, Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson argued that the Second Amendment should not be extended outside of the confines of the home.

Contact An Experienced Professional

If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, you could face serious penalties. It is important to understand this recent change in the law. If you are facing such charges, contact the experienced attorneys at Bruckheim & Patel to help you handle your case.

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