As gun owners in D.C. are aware, the nation’s capitol is known for it’s strict gun laws. In 2008, gun owners won a significant victory when the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s ban on handguns (District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570).
Many were hoping for similar results when the D.C.’s most recent gun laws, the Firearms Amendment of 2012 (FRA), were challenged in court. The area of the law that the plaintiffs found most alarming was the requirement that all gun owners register each individual gun. To do so, they were also required to submit fingerprints and photographs.
It is very rare for states to enact gun registry requirements. A total of five states and the District require any registration at all (D.C. and Hawaii are the only places that require all guns be registered), while eight states have laws expressly forbidding firearm registries.
Last month, in another Heller v District of Columbia case, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66569 (D.D.C., May 15, 2014), U.S. District Judge Boasberg upheld the strict gun laws in D.C., citing the high rates of gun violence in the city.
The District of Columbia knows gun violence. Notorious for a time as the “murder capital” of the United States, it recorded over 400 homicides annually in the early 1990s – more than one for every 1500 residents… In an effort to stem this violence and promote public safety, the District of Columbia has, over the last several decades, passed some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation…. Seeking to accommodate that constitutional right while also protecting the community from gun violence, the District responded by enacting a law that banned assault weapons and large-capacity magazines but merely imposed registration requirements for handguns and long guns. (id. at 2-3)
According to the Judge Boasberg, the registry was considered constitutional because it did not place more burden on gun holders then other similar licenses.
While many gun owners have serious privacy concerns about a gun registry, § 7-2508.05 of the D.C. code asserts that the gun registry will never be available as public record.
Now that the FRA is upheld, how does that affect potential or current gun owners? There are several things to keep in mind (See DC Code § 7-2502.01-11).
Don’t buy in bulk: In DC, you can only buy one handgun per month.
Don’t forget to keep up your registration, and to re-register your guns every three years.
If you are under the age of 21, you will need your parents’ signature to buy and register a gun and they will assume liability for any damages caused.
Whether you are a D.C. resident or just passing through, there are also several laws to keep in mind in regards to transporting a gun (DC Code § 22-4504.02):
If you are on public transportation:
The gun must be unloaded, in a lock box.
The Ammunition must be kept in a separate, locked container.
If you are in your car:
You cannot access your gun or ammunition from any seat.
For anyone with a gun:
Keep your registration, or a photocopy of your registration, with your gun. If a D.C. officer asks to see it, you must produce it. (D.C. Code § 7-2502.08).
If you are not a resident of D.C. and are transporting an automatic weapon (as those are illegal in the city), make sure that you have proof that you are traveling to and from an area where they are legal (DC Code § 22-4504.02.).
While many question the constitutionality of such gun laws, they are now a fact of life for gun owners in D.C.
Do you have questions about the gun laws in DC? Are you facing firearm charges? Call us NOW! 1-800-579-9864.
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