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Trends of Gun Laws in DC

Washington, DC has a long history of high levels of gun violence and responses to those high levels of gun violence through the imposition of strict trends of gun laws in DC.

For a long time, DC had some of the strictest gun laws in the country. A person was not able to have any kind of ownership or possession of firearms in Washington, DC and that was part of the DC laws for several decades.

As a distinguished gun attorney can explain, these laws have changed due to the Supreme Court ruling that constitutionally, an individual is entitled to be in possession of firearms. As a response to that, DC legislators had to change DC laws to permit people to be able to register and test firearms in DC.

How Gun Law Trends Impact Cities and Districts

As the United States Supreme Court limited the kinds of laws states and cities can pass to limit gun possession and gun licensing, the DC government responded by loosening their gun laws. The gun laws now provide the opportunity to register and license a personal firearm.

At the same time they loosened some of their firearm possession laws in response to Supreme Court rulings, DC police and prosecutors increased their enforcement of the remaining laws. There is still a significant number of arrests and prosecutions for gun law violations in Washington, DC. and that has been consistent for the past several decades.

Understanding the Importance of Differing Firearm Regulations

DC does not have reciprocity with any other jurisdictions regarding concealed carry or other gun registrations. That means when an individual gun owner has a gun registered and licensed lawfully in another state, it does not mean they can legally possess or carry that firearm in Washington, DC.

This is a point of extreme confusion for many people because trends of gun laws in DC differ from state to state. People are under the impression that because their firearm license is registered in their home state, they can possess that gun anywhere. But that is not the case.

The District makes numerous arrests of people who have guns that are lawfully registered and licensed in another state but do not have the necessary registration in Washington, DC.

Are there Exceptions to the Registration Rule?

There is a federal exception to this rule that permits a person to transport a lawfully registered firearm from one state to another state where that firearm can be lawfully possessed and registered without having to license and register that firearm in every state the person travels through.

As an example, if a person has a firearm lawfully registered and licensed in Virginia and plans on traveling to Maryland where they are legally able to possess that firearm as well, that means the person could drive from Virginia to Maryland and pass through DC without having to register and license the gun at DC.

Using Federal Exemptions as a Defense in a Gun Arrest

If the person is pulled over by law enforcement while driving through Washington, DC, they can use this federal exemption to argue that they are not under any obligation to license or register their gun in DC. This applies only if the person is traveling through the District.

If the person stops in DC or uses DC as a detour during their travel from Virginia to Maryland, the exemption does not apply. It only applies in a situation where the person takes a direct path from Virginia to Maryland and drives through DC on the way.

Are Gun Laws Commonly Challenged?

In the past, trends of gun laws in DC were the subject of court challenges from gun rights advocates who favor rules and regulations on gun possession. DC’s history has some of the most strict gun licensing and registration laws in the United States. Those laws were chipped away over the past several years.

As a result, the DC legislature passed laws permitting people to be in possession of guns in their own private residences or in their place of business as long as those firearms are registered in the District.

How Licensing is Handled in DC

Over time, court challenges resulted in finding that the DC legislature must establish some kind of licensing regimen that permits people to carry firearms outside of their home or place of business.

Washington, DC has a law on the books that allows people to get firearm licenses to legally carry guns and ammunition outside of their homes. The trends of gun laws in DC create a very high burden for a person to show that they should be allowed to have a license.

As more people are able to get a gun license in Washington, DC, the authorities may crack down and seek harsher penalties for those who are found to be in possession of firearms illegally.

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