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Know the Laws: District of Columbia

UPDATED May 10, 2016

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Below is information about state gun laws in Washington, D.C.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply.  To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your state. To find an agency, please go to the DC Where to Find Help page.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topI do not have a protection order against the abuser, and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he have a gun?

In Washington, D.C., in addition to convicted criminals and respondents in protection order cases, the law also prevents the following other people from possessing a firearm - someone who:

  • is a “fugitive from justice”;
  • is addicted to any controlled substance (drug);
  • is a minor;
  • is under indictment for a crime of violence or a weapons offense (with the exception of certain infractions or misdemeanor weapons offenses);
  • was acquitted of any criminal charge by reason of insanity within the past 5 years;
  • the court says is a "chronic alcoholic" or who was committed to a mental hospital/institution within the past 5 years;
  • has had a history of violent behavior within the 5 years before applying for a firearm license;
  • is suffering from a physical defect (including blindness), which indicates that the applicant would not be able to possess and use a firearm safely and responsibly; or
  • was found by a court to be negligent in handling a firearm, which caused death or serious injury to another person.*

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information. You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  See our DC State and Local Programs page to find a local domestic violence organization near you.

For additional information on gun laws in the District of Columbia, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* DC Code §§ 22-4503(a); 7-2502.03(a)

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back to topI've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about the federal firearm law and how it applies to you: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  

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