WASHINGTON — The mass shooting Monday at the Navy Yard is the deadliest shooting in the country so far this year, yet it occurred in a city that according to gun control advocates has some of the strictest gun laws in the country.
Even though the Supreme Court struck down D.C.’s ban on the possession of handguns in the home in 2008, the District still has a litany of laws on the books that make it more difficult to obtain some firearms, impossible to obtain others, and illegal to carry any loaded gun in the city.
By just being in the city with a loaded firearm, regardless of whether he was the legally registered owner, the suspect Aaron Alexis would be in violation of D.C. law. Carrying a concealed firearm or carrying a firearm openly in D.C. are both against the law. Bringing a firearm from out of state without registering it in D.C. is illegal. Assault-style rifles are banned. And even traveling through D.C. with a firearm is illegal.
In addition, the Navy Sea Systems Command headquarters is a federal facility that is subject to federal law, which prohibits carrying a firearm onto the premises (except by law enforcement or members of the armed forces).
Gun-rights advocates frequently suggest that tough gun laws don’t make people safer. In 2012, D.C. reported fewer than 100 homicides for the first time since 1963.
Here’s an overview of some of D.C.’s gun rules:
Buying a gun:
- 10-day waiting period between purchasing and obtaining a firearm.
- “Assault weapons” (certain models of semi-automatic rifles), including the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15 (used in the Aurora theater shooting and the Newtown shooting) are banned.
- Large capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds) are banned.
- Selling a gun to anyone who is reasonably believed to not be “of sound mind” is illegal.
- Machine guns and sawed-off shotguns are banned.
- Parent or guardian permission required for gun purchasers between the ages of 18 and 21.
- You must purchase a firearm from a registered firearms dealer in D.C.
Who can’t buy a gun:
- The legally blind.
- Anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime or a weapons offense
- Anyone who is under indictment for a violent crime or weapons offense.
- Anyone who has been convicted of a drug offense or making threats to do bodily harm in the last 5 years.
- Anyone who has been adjudicated to be an alcoholic or acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity in the last 5 years.*
- Anyone who has been committed to a mental institution in the last five years.*
Registering a gun:
- Any previously owned firearm must be registered in the District.
- Firearms must be re-registered every three years.
- Gun owners must complete a background check, an online firearm safety course, and pass a test about D.C.’s gun laws.
- Pass vision requirements.
Owning a gun
- Carrying a concealed weapon in DC is illegal.
- Carrying a weapon openly is illegal.
- You can be arrested and your firearm confiscated if you stop in DC for any reason with a firearm from out of state.
- Transporting any loaded gun in a vehicle in DC is illegal. Guns are required to be unloaded and unable to be accessed by the driver. The firearm or ammunition cannot be stored in the glove compartment or console.
- Gun free zones include day care centers, schools, universities, public swimming pools, video arcades, or youth centers. Carrying a gun into a gun-free zone carries a fine or can result in imprisonment.
*Some exceptions apply