The District of Columbia has established the District Roster of Handguns Determined Not to Be Unsafe (“District Roster”). The District Roster constitutes those handguns that may be manufactured, sold, given, loaned, exposed for sale, transferred or imported into the District and that may be owned or possessed within the District.1 The District Roster must include any handgun:
- That is on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale (“California Roster,” currently the strongest and most detailed of design safety and testing rosters in the nation) as of January 1, 2009, unless the gun is an unregisterable firearm under District law effective March 31, 2009;
- That was listed on the California Roster prior to January 1, 2009, which was, or is subsequently, removed from the California Roster for any reason not related to the gun’s safety;
- Listed on the January 1, 2009, Maryland Department of State Police Official Handgun Roster, unless such handgun is an unregisterable firearm under District law effective March 31, 2009; or
- Listed on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Approved Firearms Roster, as of April 2, 2009, unless such handgun is an unregisterable firearm under District law effective March 31, 2009.2
A handgun will be deemed to be included on the District Roster if another handgun type made by the same manufacturer is already listed and the unlisted handgun differs from the listed type only in one or more of the following features:
- Finish, including, but not limited to, bluing, chrome-plating, oiling, or engraving;
- The material from which the grips are made;
- The shape or texture of the grips, so long as the difference in grip shape or texture does not in any way alter the dimensions, material, linkage, or functioning of the magazine well, the barrel, the chamber, or any of the components of the firing mechanism of the handgun; or
- Any other purely cosmetic feature that does not in any way alter the dimensions, material, linkage, or functioning of the magazine well, the barrel, the chamber, or any of the components of the firing mechanism of the handgun.3
By statute, the District has codified standards for handguns based on the California Roster that may be lawfully sold or owned in the District. In terms somewhat redundant of the District Roster, a pistol that is not on the California Roster as of January 1, 2009,4 may not be manufactured, sold, given, loaned, exposed for sale, transferred or imported into the District.5
A handgun that is not on the California Roster may not be owned or possessed within the District unless that handgun was lawfully owned and registered prior to January 1, 2009.6 A District resident who owns a handgun lawfully registered prior to January 1, 2009 that is not on the California Roster and who wishes to sell or transfer that gun after January 1, 2009, may do so only by selling or transferring ownership of the handgun to a licensed firearms dealer.7
The District Chief of Police has authority to review any additions to or deletions from the California Roster, and is authorized to revise the District’s roster of handguns determined not to be unsafe and prescribe the guns that are permissible under the exemptions listed pursuant to D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(e).8
A licensed firearm dealer who retains in his or her inventory, or who otherwise lawfully acquires, any handgun not on the California Roster may sell, loan, give, trade, or otherwise transfer the firearm only to another licensed gun dealer.9
There are limited exceptions to these rules, including:
- Pistols designed expressly for use in Olympic target shooting events;
- Certain single-action revolvers;
- Transfers of firearms for use solely as a prop during the course of a motion picture, television, or video production by an authorized participant in the course of making that production or event;
- The temporary transfer of a lawfully-owned and registered firearm for the purposes of cleaning, repair, or servicing of the firearm by a licensed firearm dealer; or
- The possession of a firearm by a non-resident of the District of Columbia while temporarily traveling through the District.10
See our Design Safety Standards policy summary for a comprehensive discussion of this issue.
- D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 2323.1.
- D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 2323.2.
- D.C. Mun. Regs. tit. 24, § 2323.3.
- See Cal. Penal Code §§ 12125-12133.
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(a).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(b).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(c).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(f).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(d).
- D.C. Code Ann. § 7-2505.04(e).