The District of Columbia has enacted some of the strongest gun violence prevention legislation in the nation. Among other things, District law:
- Requires that any person or organization obtain a valid registration certificate in order to lawfully possess or control a firearm. The registration process serves also as a licensing process and is rigorous and detailed, including a background check on the prospective transferee and firearms safety training and testing requirements;
- Deems certain firearms unregisterable, meaning they cannot be owned or possessed in the District, including assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, machine guns and handguns not registered to the current owner prior to September 24, 1976, with certain limited exceptions, including the registration of handguns for self-defense within the registrant’s home;
- Prohibits the possession, sale or other transfer of a large capacity ammunition magazine;
- Imposes a 10-day waiting period between the purchase and actual transfer of a firearm;
- Licenses and strictly regulates firearms dealers;
- Imposes detailed design safety standards on handguns;
- Limits the number of handguns a person may register to one per 30-day period;
- Allows an individual not licensed as a firearm dealer to sell a firearm only to a licensed dealer, and only if the unlicensed individual has a registration certificate for the firearm; and
- Requires gun owners to report to law enforcement the loss, theft, or destruction of a registered firearm.
In 2017, 100 people died from firearm-related injuries in the District of Columbia. In 2017, the rate of crime gun exports from the District was less than half the national rate of crime gun exports. However, the District of Columbia was a significant importer of crime guns — guns originally purchased in another state that were recovered after being used in a crime in the District. The District imported crime guns at more than 44 times the rate at which it exported crime guns in 2017.
DC Firearms Laws
For details about specific firearms laws in the District of Columbia, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in the District.