District of Columbia

District of Columbia Law


District of Columbia Domestic Violence Firearm Purchase and Possession Prohibitions

Under DC law, a person must hold a valid registration certificate to possess or control a firearm.1 A registration certificate shall not be issued to any person who:

  1. Has been convicted within the five years preceding application of an intrafamily offense* punishable as a misdemeanor, including any similar provision in the law of another jurisdiction;2
  2. Is or has been the respondent in an intrafamily proceeding in which a civil protection order was issued against the applicant or a foreign protection order was issued against the applicant (unless the applicant submits a certified record establishing that the order has expired or has been rescinded for a period of 5 years or more); or3
  3. Is subject to a court order that:
    1. Was issued after a hearing of which the person received actual notice, and at which the person had an opportunity to participate, or remained in effect after the person failed to appear for a hearing of which the person received actual notice;
    2. Restrains the person from assaulting, harassing, stalking, or threatening the petitioner or any person named in the order; and
    3. Requires the person to relinquish possession of any firearms.4

A registration certificate shall be revoked from persons who become ineligible for the issuance of a registration certificate.5


Civil Protection Orders that Require Removal

DC does not require the removal of firearms from persons subject to a civil protection order; however, if, after a hearing, the judicial officer finds there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner, against the petitioner’s animal, or against an animal in the petitioner’s household, the judicial officer may issue a final civil protection order that directs the respondent to relinquish possession of any firearms.6

Individuals Who Can Petition for a Civil Protection Order

The following persons may petition for a civil protection order against a respondent who has allegedly committed or threatened to commit one or more criminal offenses against the petitioner:7

  1. A spouse or former spouse;
  2. A domestic partner or former domestic partner;
  3. Current or former romantic, dating, or sexual partners;
  4. Persons who currently or formerly shared a residence;
  5. Persons who share a child in common;
  6. Persons related by blood, adoption, legal custody, marriage, or domestic partnership.8

Removal Process

District of Columbia Superior Court Civil Protection Order forms state that respondents must relinquish all firearms that the respondent owns or possesses to their local law enforcement officials within 24 hours after being served with the order.9

Penalties for Violation

A person who possesses a firearm while they are subject to a court order that prohibits possession of any firearms shall be sentenced to no fewer than 2 years and no more than 10 years imprisonment, fined, or both.10

This page was updated March 29, 2021. Please note that data used are the most recent available data.