The District of Columbia deems machine guns unregisterable, thereby prohibiting possession of these firearms.1 Unregisterable firearms cannot be sold or transferred in the District.2 The District defines a machine gun as:

[A]ny firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term “machine gun” shall also include the frame or receiver of any such firearm, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a firearm into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.3

District law also provides that any manufacturer, importer or dealer of a machine gun will be held strictly liable for any direct and consequential damages resulting from injuries or death caused by these weapons:

Any manufacturer, importer, or dealer of a[]…machine gun shall be held strictly liable in tort, without regard to fault or proof of defect, for all direct and consequential damages that arise from bodily injury or death if the bodily injury or death proximately results from the discharge of the…machine gun in the District of Columbia.4

Any defense available in a strict liability action is available as a defense to an action brought under the District’s machine gun strict liability laws.5

Federal law requires machine guns to be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF), and generally prohibits the transfer or possession of machine guns manufactured after May 19, 1986.6 In December 2018, ATF finalized a rule to include bump stocks within the definition of a machine gun subject to this federal law, meaning that bump stocks will be generally banned as of March 26, 2019,7 however, the District additionally banned bump stocks by ordinance in 2019.8

See our Machine Guns policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.

  1. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2502.02(a)(2). See also D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4514(a) (prohibiting possession of a machine gun in the District). ⤴︎
  2. D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2505.01, 7-2505.02(a). ⤴︎
  3. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2501.01(10). ⤴︎
  4. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2551.02. ⤴︎
  5. D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2551.03(d). ⤴︎
  6. 18 U.S.C. § 922(o); 26 U.S.C. § 5861(d). ⤴︎
  7. Bump-Stock-Type Devices, 83 Fed. Reg. 66,514 (Dec. 26, 2018) (to be codified at 27 C.F.R. pts. 447, 478, 479). ⤴︎
  8. D.C. Code Ann. §  22-4514(a). ⤴︎