Stand-Alone Offense

Recent developments have placed the District of Columbia’s gun laws in a state of uncertainty. While there has recently been significant movement towards recognizing the right of certain individuals to carry concealed handguns outside their homes, the current maximum penalty for carrying a pistol outside the home remains five years incarceration. Stay tuned for developments that are expected possibly as soon as November, 2015.

When used in commission of violent or dangerous crime

Possession of a handgun during the commission of a violent or dangerous crime carries a five-year mandatory-minimum period of incarceration. The terms violent crime and dangerous crime are defined by statute and include crimes one would expect to be included based on a common sense definitions of the terms violent and dangerous.  Murder, assault with intent to kill, and robbery represent a small sample of the violent or dangerous crimes that give rise to the five year mandatory minimum exposure. By contrast, even though the District of Columbia has decriminalized marijuana possession, it still defines distribution of marijuana as a dangerous offense that warrants a five-year mandatory jail period if the alleged perpetrator possesses a firearm during the alleged distribution.

Prior felony

In the District of Columbia possession of a handgun or any firearm is a felony that carries a penalty of ten years incarceration and requires the imposition of a mandatory period of one-year incarceration if the alleged offender has a prior felony conviction. This statute can have an especially draconian effect in some instances because it makes no excuse for an individual who was convicted of a felony more than thirty years earlier and has been a model citizen ever since.

Federal law also prohibits an individual with a prior felony conviction from possessing a firearm regardless of the age of that prior conviction.