Owning A Handgun in Washington D.C.
During the first six months of 2012, the violent crime rate rose 40 percent and robberies rose by 55 percent over what they were in 2011. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier warned of a citywide spike in robberies at a Feb. 10 news conference. On June 28th at around 10 PM two men with handguns shot a man for his cellphone, sneakers, and $60 before fleeing on foot. I wonder what the outcome would have been if the victim had been armed.
- Citizens of the District have the right to own and bear arms.
- The simple truth is that the MPD does not want you exercising your rights.
- Attend the mandatory five-hour safety class early in the process.
- Buy your gun.
- Now it is time to meet Charles Sykes.
- Time to have your mug shot taken.
- File Your Registration Application, Pay the Fees, Get Fingerprinted, and Take the Test.
- Go home and wait.
- Back to Charles Sykes
- How much will getting my gun cost me?
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Citizens of the District have the right to own and bear arms.
For far too long the MPD (Metropolitan Police Department) used D.C. Code Section 7-2502.02(a)(4), which generally bars the registration of handguns; Section 22-4504(a), which bars carrying a pistol without a license; and Section 7-2507.02, which requires that all lawfully owned firearms be kept unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock to keep honest, law abiding citizens from executing their Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms. Their God-given right to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their homes against attack. Then in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the Supreme Court effectively overruled the MPD's ban on guns, affirming their Second Amendment rights to own and bear arms. But the powers that be and the MPD did not go quietly into the good night.
The simple truth is that the MPD does not want you exercising your rights.
The first step to owning a handgun in the district is to obtain from the D.C. MPD the “Firearms Registration General Requirements and Study Guide,” Application for Firearms Registration Certificate, and Statement of Eligibility. They will cheerfully hand you the packet upon request but offer no help in navigating the forms and checklists. Must people discover that they have to learn the best way to proceed by trial and error and one mistake can set your application backs months. Ask any MPD officer where to go for your packet and they will send you to 300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 2169. What most will not tell you is that you can download everything you need from the MPD website except for the registration application which is a triplicate form. The best way to proceed is to download the Study Guide first and study it until you can recite it in your sleep. Once you have mastered the study guide you can have the packet mailed to you by requesting it from the Firearms Registration Section (202-727-4275) or you can go and pick it up in person at 300 Indiana Avenue, NW, Room 2169.
Attend the mandatory five-hour safety class early in the process.
The MPD will provide you with a list of certified safety instructors when you pick up your packet, but provide with little more than their contact information—names, telephone numbers, and email addresses. Do not sign up with the first instructor you speak with, call every one on the list before committing yourself because some instructors charge considerably less for their five-hour course than others do. All the courses consist of four-hours classroom work and one-hour range time. Upon completing the course you will receive a signed certificate that you will need to present when you register your weapon.
Buy your gun.
There are no gun shops in the District. You will have to go Maryland or Virginia to purchase your weapon. Sharpshooters in Lorton Virginia, or Realco Guns at
6108 Marlboro Pike in District Heights, Maryland are the two dealers that I have had experience with and recommend, especially for the first time gun buyer because their expert staff will make sure that you buy the gun that is right for you.
Now it is time to meet Charles Sykes.
Once you have purchased your firearm from the dealer, you need to call Charley Sykes at 301-577-1427. Sykes will receive the weapon from the dealer. Once the weapon is in Sykes possession he will setup a time to meet with you in his office at 1213 Good Hope Road S.E. Charles Sykes will run another criminal background check on you even though the gun dealer has already done that. Once the check comes back “Clean” Sykes will hand you a Federal form to fill out. The District of Columbia Law D.C. requires that applicant and Sykes sign the Firearms Registration Certificate “in the presence of each other.” Do not forget to get Sykes to notarize your Statement of Eligibility. At this point you will be asked to pay Sykes a $125 transfer fee. You must have the cash on you because Sykes will not accept a check or take a credit/debit card.
Time to have your mug shot taken.
You must have two passport-style photos taken within 30 days of the date when you intend to file the registration application. Both Penn Camera at 840 E Street N.W. and the CVS at 435 8th Street N.W. Are both relatively centrally located, having the photos done at CVS will save you $4. The passport-style photos at Penn Camera will cost you $12, but they will get you in and out during rush hour quicker than CVS will, so paying the additional $4 may well be worth it if you are on a tight schedule.
File Your Registration Application, Pay the Fees, Get Fingerprinted, and Take the Test.
The next obstacle course that you will have to run begins with the metal detector at the front entrance to 300 Indiana Avenue, N.W. A word to the wise, do not have anything on you that could be construed to be weapon. I have seen people get the third degree of a perfectly legal folding pocketknife. Once through the metal detector, go straight to the Firearms Registration Section. Do not take any detours. Present your completed Application form, notarized Statement of Eligibility, two passport photos, and a completed Firearms Safety Course Compliance form to the clerk. The clerk will then send you to Room 1140B in the basement, where the cashier will accept cash payment for the application, ballistics test, and fingerprinting/FBI background check fees. Now take that receipt back to the Firearms Registration Section. You will now be fingerprinted, take a multiple-choice test, and complete a form authorizing the MPD to do another background check on you.
Go home and wait.
After the requisite ten day waiting period, you can pick up your Approved Firearm Registration Certificate in person or the MPD will mail it to you upon request. Do yourself a big favor and pick it up in person.
Back to Charles Sykes
Take the Approved Firearm Registration Certificate to Sykes and he will transfer the weapon to you.
Go for the ballistics test.
Take your weapon back to the Firearms Registration Section for a ballistics test.
Take your gun home or to the pistol range.
D.C. law does not permit the possession of a handgun outside the home unless the individual is traveling to a gun range. Therefore, after the registration process is complete, the handgun must be taken straight home or to a gun range. If you want to carry the gun outside your home other than when traveling to a shooting range, you will need to get a concealed carry permit and that is beyond the scope of this article. I will cover that in a future article.
How much will getting my gun cost me?
The average cost of a quality semi-automatic is approximately $450. on top of that you can figure on paying the following amounts:
- $22.50 Virginia sales tax
- $25 shipment fee (gun store to Sykes)
- $125 gun class fee (may be more depending on the instructor)
- $125 gun dealer transfer fee
- $12 passport photos
- $13 application fee
- $12 ballistics test fee
- $35 fingerprinting / FBI background check fee
The total fees and taxes are $369.50, nearly doubling the actual cost of a $450 firearm to $819.50.
OK, are you ready for this, if you actually lived in Virginia, getting your gun would have been a three step process: 1) Walk into the gun store. 2) Select your weapon, pay for it, and wait for the instantaneous background check. 3) Walk out with your weapon. What in the District took weeks to accomplish, in Virginia was accomplished in minutes. Also, in Virginia, you could carry it outside your home.
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