See our Domestic Violence & Firearms policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

Federal law prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms and ammunition by certain domestic abusers. Similarly, District law also prohibits the purchase and possession of guns by persons convicted of domestic violence offenses and by those persons subject to civil protection orders.

District law does not: 1) require courts to notify domestic abusers when they become prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law; or 2) explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition: a) at the scene of a domestic violence incident; or b) from the subject of a civil protection order.

Firearm Prohibitions for Domestic Violence Misdemeanants

To obtain a registration certificate, which is required to purchase or possess a firearm or ammunition in the District, an applicant must pass a background check. The applicant will not pass the background check if he or she:

  • Has been convicted within the previous five years of any intrafamily offense punishable as a misdemeanor, including any similar offense in another jurisdiction;1 or
  • Is otherwise ineligible to possess a firearm under D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503 (including convictions within the previous five years for an intrafamily offense in the District, punishable as a misdemeanor, or any similar offense in another jurisdiction).2

Firearm Prohibitions for Persons Subject to Domestic Violence Protective Orders

The District also will not issue a registration certificate to any person if he or she:

  • Is or has been the respondent in an intrafamily proceeding in which a civil protection order was issued against her or him, or in a proceeding in which a foreign protection order was issued against her or him (an applicant who has been the subject of such an order shall be eligible for registration if the applicant has submitted to the Chief of Police a certified court record establishing that the order has expired or has been rescinded for a period of five years or more);3 or
  • Is ineligible to possess a firearm under D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503 (including any person subject to a final court order restraining him or her from assaulting, harassing, stalking, or threatening a petitioner or any other person named in the order and that requires the person restrained to relinquish possession of any firearms).4
Notes
  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.03(a)(4)(D). “Intrafamily offense” is defined as interpersonal, intimate partner, or intrafamily violence. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2501.01(9B), referencing the definitions for intrafamily offense proceedings under D.C. Code Ann. § 16-1001(8). “Interpersonal violence” means an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person: 1) with whom the offender shares or has shared a mutual residence; or 2) who is or was married to, in a domestic partnership with, divorced or separated from, or in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship with another person who is or was married to, in a domestic partnership with, divorced or separated from, or in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship with the offender. D.C. Code Ann. § 16-1001(6). “Intimate partner violence” means an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person: 1) to whom the offender is or was married; 2) with whom the offender is or was in a domestic partnership; or 3) with whom the offender is or was in a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship. D.C. Code Ann. § 16-1001(7). “Intrafamily violence” means an act punishable as a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed by an offender upon a person to whom the offender is related by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership, or with whom the offender has a child in common. D.C. Code Ann. § 16-1001(9). ⤴︎
  2. D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4503(a)(6). ⤴︎
  3. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.03(a)(12). ⤴︎
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.03(a)(9). ⤴︎