One of the most common DC gun charges that I handle involves a client from another state who was arrested for Carrying a Pistol outside of their home or place of business. This charge used to be called Carrying a Pistol without a License (CPWL) but was recently changed. The reason for the name change probably has to do with the fact that they do not issues carry permits in the District Columbia. That includes open carry and concealed carry.
The draconian firearms laws in DC are basically that if you own any gun (pistol, rifle, and shotgun) it must be registered. Once it is registered, you may only keep it in your home or place of business. You cannot carry your gun anywhere else in the District of Columbia. If you do, it is a felony punishable but up to 5 years in federal prison on a first offense. If the gun is not registered in Washington, DC, you can also be charged with possession of an unregistered firearm (UF). As if that wasn't harsh enough, because you need to have a registered firearm to own any ammunition in DC, you can also be charged with possession of unlawful ammunition (UA) if you had any bullets in the gun or in your possession.
Please note that you do not need to have the gun with you to get arrested for UA in Washington, DC. As lawyer who regularly represents people charged with gun crimes, I have represented people for having shotgun shells in their trunk which were purchased at sporting goods store for lawful purposes.
You may be saying to yourself, as a lawful gun owner, I'm not going to set foot in Washington, DC. The problem often arises when you are driving around DC on the beltway. If you are driving through the District and get pulled over, you can get arrested for carrying a pistol and the other charges I just mentioned. This is true even if you were driving from Florida to Maryland and never had any intention of stopping in Washington, DC. What makes matters worse is that the DC Metropolitan police often use the fact that most gun owners are responsible people against them. They see the VA plates and ask if you have any weapons in the car. They know that when you got your carry permit, you were instructed to tell any officer that you have a firearm in the car. This is for everyone's safety and it makes sense. If you exercise this common sense, you will be rewarded by being placed unrest on a gun charge
There have been numerous attempts to change the law so that responsible gun owners can carry firearms in the District of Columbia, but as of now, the only people that can carry a weapon are the police, the military, and some "Special Police Officers." In case you were wondering a Special Police Officer (SPO) is essentially a private security guard that has limited arrest powers and the authority to carry a pistol on their worksite.
Being arrested on a gun charge in Washington, DC is a serious matter than can not only affect your liberty, but may lead to you not being able to own a firearm in any state. While every situation is different, if you have been charged with a gun crime in the District of Columbia, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.