The District of Columbia has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. Unfortunately, many law abiding citizens with no criminal records get swept up in DC’s ridiculous gun laws. A common scenario involves out of state residents getting pulled over for a minor traffic offense. Most folks who have taken gun safety courses have been taught that the first thing you tell the officer when pulled over is that you have a firearm in the vehicle. In most states, that is the lawful and appropriate way to handle a routine traffic stop. In DC, however, that can result in getting charged with a felony crime because it is unlawful to carry a pistol in DC without a license. Until 2014, no mechanism existed for people to obtain a permit to carry a firearm in DC. So, just possession a firearm was enough to get an otherwise law abiding citizen locked up and charged with a felony.
In 2014, a federal judge declared that the District’s carrying a pistol felony law was unconstitutional. In response, the DC City Council passed a law that provided requirements for folks to obtain a carry permit in the District. However, this law was largely a cynical attempt to comply with the Court’s order without meaningfully reforming the District’s gun laws to comport with the Second Amendment. The licensing rules are so strict it is unlikely that even a City Council member who drafted this legislation could satisfy its requirement and obtain a firearm permit. As a result, it remains a felony in the District of Columbia to possess, on your person or in your vehicle, a gun without a license issued by the Metropolitan Police Department.
The maximum penalty for carrying a pistol without a license is 5 years in prison. The government typically also charges separate misdemeanor crimes as well. Possession of an unregistered firearm (or “UF”) is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. Possession of unregistered ammunition (or “UA”) is also a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and/or a $1,000.00 fine. That’s right: the government will even charge you with a crime for the bullets in your possession.
Additional gun crimes in the District of Columbia include felon in possession, which prohibits any person with a felon on the record from possessing a firearm. That crime carries a mandatory minimum penalty of either 1 year or 3 years in jail depending on the type of the felony on one’s criminal record. That means if convicted for felon in possession, it is guaranteed the person will go to jail for at least one year. The law prohibits the judge from exercising discretion and suspending the sentence even if the judge thinks that is the appropriate outcome.
DC law further prohibits the possession of certain other weapons, including, among other things, switch blades, brass knuckles, certain self-defense sprays, and knives with blades longer than 3 inches. DC gun laws prohibit the possession of a BB gun. Possession of a BB gun only carries a maximum penalty of a $300.00 fine. However, one could be arrested, booked, processes, have to go to court, and have an arrest or criminal record simply for owning a BB gun.
DC gun laws are some of the strictest—and arguably unconstitutional laws—in the nation. DC gun laws frequently wreak havoc on law abiding citizens whose only real crime was that they did not know DC law. At Scrofano Law PC, we fight to protect your constitutional rights, including your Second Amendment Rights.
Contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.