I read an interesting article today in the American Bar Association Journal about gun control laws in the US. It is not surprising that the article focused on the District of Columbia. Washington, DC has what is considered to the toughest gun laws in the nation. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, up until the Supreme Court case of District of Columbia v. Heller, you were not even allowed to have a loaded gun in your home for protection. The DC law required the gun to be stored unloaded in a locked case, and the ammunition locked in a separate case. After the Heller case, the law was changed by the DC City Counsel to allow residents to have a loaded handgun stored in your home. You must register the gun and the ammunition and are allowed to own the caliber of ammunition for the gun you own. If you are found with even one bullet designed for a gun you are not registered to own, you can be charged with a gun crime.
1. Possession of an Unregistered Firearm - Possession of an unregistered firearm can result in a one year sentence and a $1,000 fine. Transferring a firearm to someone you know not to be eligible to register a gun can result in a 10 year sentence and a $10,000 fine.
2. Carrying a Pistol Without a License (CPWL) - There is no lawful way to carry a gun in Washington, DC. Carry permits are not issued to anyone who is not a law enforcement officer or military. If you have a registered weapon, it must be transported with a trigger lock or other locking mechanism and be unloaded. Ammunition must be kept in a separate locked case and you can only carry it in this manner when you are going to shooting range or other lawful recreational activity. If you are arrested for carrying a gun without a license, it may result in a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.
3. Unlawful Possession of Ammunition - As I mentioned above, in the District of Columbia, unless you are a licensed firearms dealer, you can only possess ammunition for the type of firearm that you are lawfully registered to own. Possession of unlawful ammunition is a crime and can result in a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison. It is also illegal to own what is considered a "large capacity ammunition feeding device," which means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
I chose to highlight these three major gun laws because they are the ones most likely to catch someone off guard that has no idea they are in violation of the Washington, DC gun laws. There are many other gun crimes, but they are generally involved in the commission of a major felony, so I will address those in a later post.