Transporting Firearms in DC

A person might have a lot of reasons for transporting a firearm to the District of Columbia. The most common situation is when a person is bringing a personal firearm from his or her home state outside of the District of Columbia and is traveling through DC to get to their final destination.

A DC gun lawyer can clarify the different restrictions on transporting a firearm through DC, but generally speaking, federal law says that a person is permitted to transport a firearm through the state as long as the firearm is legally possessed in the originating state and then also legally possessed in the arrival state.

Federal law says that a person does not need to register or license a gun in every state he or she travels through because doing so would be completely impractical.

If, for example, someone is driving from Virginia to Maryland and their gun is legally registered and licensed in Virginia and they are going to legally possess it in Maryland, it wouldn’t make sense for them to register or license their gun in the District of Columbia just because they happen to be driving through. Federal law allows a person to transport a gun through the District as long as the District is not the final destination.

Steps to Legally Transport a Firearm

If a person is transporting a firearm from one state where they legally possess it to another state where they can legally possess it as well, there are a number of steps to ensure that the gun is being transported in a permissible way.

The first and most important thing that a person needs to do is unload the gun. If someone is transporting a gun in their car through one or more states and they are caught with it loaded, they are automatically in violation of the law.

Aside from being unloaded, the gun needs to be stored in a locked storage box and kept separate from the ammunition. Furthermore, the storage box must be in an area of the vehicle that is not accessible from the passenger compartment. This means that it must be in the separated trunk of a car or in the rear storage area. The locked box cannot be kept in the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

Unlawful Transportation of a Firearm

Transporting a firearm can be considered unlawful in a number of situations. The first is if the person is not legally in possession or does not have proof of legal possession of the firearm from the state of original departure.

If someone is transporting a gun from Pennsylvania to Florida and happens to be transporting it through DC. If the person doesn’t have the lawful ability to be in possession of the gun in Pennsylvania, then even if they followed every other requirement, they are still considered to be unlawfully transporting a firearm.

Even if a person has legal registration and licensing for their home state, if they are caught transporting a firearm through DC, they may be doing so in a way that violates any number of rules and can be considered in violation of federal law. These are some situations that constitute violations:

  • The firearm is loaded;
  • The firearm is not kept in a container or is kept in an unlocked container;
  • The firearm is kept in the passenger compartment.

People Who Cannot Transport a Firearm in DC

Any person who has a felony conviction on their record is not permitted to be in possession of a firearm in the District of Columbia, even if the firearm is being transported in a lawful way.

If someone has a felony conviction, then under no circumstances are they permitted to be in any kind of possession of firearms, loaded or unloaded.

A person can also be charged for the crime of carrying a pistol without a license, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, or the DC crime of possession of an unregistered firearm, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

These offenses are local crimes separate from the federal crime of unlawfully transporting a firearm between states.