See our Concealed Carry policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
Until 2014, the District of Columbia prohibited the carrying of concealed handguns in public. District of Columbia Code Ann. § 22-4506, which had detailed the requirements for a permit to carry a handgun, was repealed in 2009. Thus, the Chief of Police had no authority to issue a permit to carry. In 2014, a federal court struck down the District’s policy of refusing to issue permits to carry in Palmer v. District of Columbia, 59 F. Supp. 3d 173 (D.D.C. 2014). Subsequently, the District enacted legislation regulating the issuance of concealed carry permits.
The District is a “may issue” jurisdiction, which means that Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (“Chief”) has discretion whether or not to issue a concealed carry permit to person who meets specified criteria. Until 2017, one of the requirements to receive a concealed carry permit in the District was that applicants needed to show a “good reason” to fear injury to his or her person or property. In 2017, that requirement was struck down by a federal appeals court in Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650 (D.C. Cir. 2017). The District did not appeal the Wrenn decision,1 and instead dropped enforcement of the “good reason” requirement.2 All other requirements of the District’s “may issue” concealed carry law remain in force, and are described below.
Applicants for a concealed carry permit in the District must:
- Live or work within the District of Columbia. If the person does not live or work in the District, the permit applicant must live or work in another state and possess a valid concealed carry permit from that state. If an applicant resides in a state that does not issue concealed carry permits, the applicant may apply for a permit provided he or she meets the eligibility criteria for a District resident; and
- Be a suitable person to be permitted.3
A person who submits an application must certify and demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Chief that he or she:
- Is at least 21 years of age;
- Meets all of the requirements for a person registering a firearm (See Registration of Firearms in the District of Columbia for registration criteria), and has obtained a registration certificate for the pistol that the person is applying to carry concealed; and
- Does not currently suffer from a mental illness or condition that creates a substantial risk that he or she is a danger to himself or herself or others; or if he or she has suffered in the previous 5 years from a mental illness or condition that created a substantial risk that he or she was a danger to himself or herself or others, no longer suffers from a mental illness or condition that creates a substantial risk that he or she is a danger to himself or herself or others.
An applicant is required to appear for an in-person interview at the District police headquarters for verification of the applicant’s identity and verification of the information submitted as part of the application process for a permit.4
Firearm Safety Training
A person applying for a concealed carry permit in the District must certify that he or she has completed at least 2 hours of range training, conducted by an instructor certified by the Chief, that includes live firing exercises. The applicant must also complete a firearms training course certified by the Chief, which includes at least 16 hours of training, and covers the following:
- Firearm safety;
- Firearm nomenclature;
- Basic principles of marksmanship;
- Care, cleaning, maintenance, loading, unloading, and storage of pistols;
- Situational awareness, conflict management, and use of deadly force;
- Selection of pistols and ammunition for defensive purposes; and
- All applicable District and federal firearms laws, and District law pertaining to self-defense.
A renewal applicant must complete 4 hours of firearm safety training and 2 hours of range practice within the previous 12 months.5
A permit is valid for not more than 2 years from the date of issue.6
Disclosure or Use of Information
Any record regarding a permit applicant or permittee shall not be made available as a public record.7 However, aggregate data that excludes personal identifying information may be used for the purposes of a public report that law enforcement is required to issue every two years. The report must include:
- The total number of valid licenses;
- For the most recent 2-year period:
- The number of applications for a license received;
- The number of licenses issued;
- The number of licenses renewed, suspended, revoked, or denied;
- The number of licensees convicted of a crime involving a pistol, classified by type of crime;
- The number of pistols for which a license was issued that were reported lost or stolen; and
- The number of pistols for which a license was issued that were found or recovered as stolen that were unreported by a licensee as lost or stolen.8
The District does not recognize permits issued from any other jurisdiction.9 However, a person possessing a valid concealed carry permit from another jurisdiction, or a state that does not issue concealed carry permits, may apply to the District for a concealed carry permit.10
- Ann E. Marimow & Peter Jamison, D.C. Will Not Appeal Concealed Carry Gun Ruling to the Supreme Court, Wash. Post, Oct. 5, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/dc-will-not-appeal-gun-law-to-supreme-court/2017/10/05/e0e7c054-a9d0-11e7-850e-2bdd1236be5d_story.html.
- Metropolitan Police Department, “Applying for a License to Carry a Handgun,” accessed Apr. 16, 2018, https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/applying-license-carry-handgun (“Pursuant to the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Wrenn v. District of Columbia and Grace v. District of Columbia, applicants for a license to carry a concealed handgun in the District of Columbia no longer need to provide a good reason for carrying a handgun.”).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4506.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2509.02.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2509.03.
- D.C. Code Ann. §§ 7-2509.03; 22-4506.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2509.09.
- D.C. Code Ann. §§ 22-4504, 22-4506.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 22-4506.