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The rules in the DMV vs. Arizona and Montana

Wednesday, August 18, 2010; C01

The District

-- All firearms must be registered with police. To obtain a registration certificate:

-- Applicant must be at least 21 (applicants 18 to 21 may qualify if parents or guardians give a notarized statement assuming civil liabilities).

-- Applicants cannot have been convicted of or be under indictment for a crime of violence or a weapons offense; they must not appear "to suffer from a physical defect that would make it unsafe" to possess a firearm.

-- Within five years, applicants must not have had any conviction for a "narcotics offense," a "dangerous drug offense," "assault," making "threats to do bodily harm," a domestic violence offense or having two or more DUIs.

-- Within the previous five years, applicants must not have been the subject of a restraining order or have "a history of violent behavior."

-- Within the previous five years, applicants must not have been voluntarily or involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, acquitted of a criminal charge by reason of insanity or adjudicated a chronic alcoholic.

-- Carrying a handgun in public, openly or concealed, is prohibited for all private citizens except former law enforcement officers licensed by the District.

-- D.C. law requires a 10-day waiting period before a buyer can pick up a firearm; applicants must obtain a registration certificate before picking up new rifles or shotguns; handgun applicants must take new handguns to police directly from the dealer so that officers can conduct a "ballistics test" in which they fire and keep a bullet for potential matching in later investigations.

-- Possession of ammunition for an unregistered firearm is illegal.

-- Possession of a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition is illegal.

-- The Second Amendment, which applies directly to the District as federal enclave, says: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, struck down a handgun ban and recognized individual firearms ownership as a fundamental right.

Arizona

-- Any law-abiding Arizonan older than 18 is permitted to buy or possess a firearm; as per federal law, a person must be 21 to buy a handgun.

-- Except for the criminal background check required by the federal Brady Act, no registration is necessary to buy a firearm.

-- Any law-abiding Arizona resident older than 21 can carry a handgun, concealed or openly, without a permit.

-- Arizonans can carry a concealed weapon onto establishments that serve alcohol but may not imbibe.

-- Arizonans may possess a concealed weapon on school grounds while picking up or dropping off a child as long as the weapon is unloaded and the bearer remains in the vehicle.

-- The state constitution says: "The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself or the state shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain, or employ an armed body of men."

Montana

-- Any law-abiding resident older than 18 is permitted to buy or possess a firearm; must be 21 to buy a handgun.

-- Except for the background check required by Brady Act, no registration is necessary.

-- To carry a concealed weapon, residents must be 18; they do not need a permit to carry a concealed weapon outside cities; no concealed weapons are allowed inside "city, town or logging camp limits," schools, financial institutions or places where alcohol is sold.

-- Montana has no prohibitions against carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle.

-- The state constitution says: "The right of any person to keep or bear arms in defense of his own home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall not be called into question, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons."

Maryland

-- Any law-abiding person older than 18 can buy a rifle or a shotgun without a special permit after passing a federally mandated criminal background check.

-- Residents older than 21 may buy handguns and assault weapons after obtaining a permit from the Maryland State Police. All purchases of handguns and assault weapons must be conducted through a licensed dealer.

-- Purchasers of handguns and assault weapons must complete a certified firearms safety training course.

-- There is a seven-day waiting period for sales of handguns and assault weapons.

-- The purchase of more than one handgun or more than one assault weapon every 30 days is prohibited.

-- Maryland is a "may issue" state that has wide discretion over whether to allow a law-abiding person to carry a concealed weapon, and it prohibits carrying weapons openly.

-- Maryland's constitution lacks any reference to a right to bear arms, and its highest court, the Court of Appeals, has held that the Second Amendment refers only to the federal government; Article 28 of the Maryland Constitution says only: "That a well regulated militia is the proper and natural defense of a free Government."

Virginia

-- Any law-abiding citizen older than 18 may buy a rifle or shotgun after a federally mandated background check.

-- Any law-abiding citizen older than 21 may buy a handgun after a Brady Act background check; no special permit from Virginia State Police is needed.

-- The purchase of more than one handgun every 30 days is prohibited.

-- Virginia is a "shall issue" state in which the presumption favors allowing any law-abiding citizen older than 21 to receive a court-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon; all law-abiding adults may carry a handgun openly, except where prohibited.

-- The state constitution says "a well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

-- Frederick Kunkle

SOURCES: FBI; Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; D.C. police "Firearms Registration General Requirements and Study Guide"; National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action "Compendium of State Firearms Laws"; Library of Congress's THOMAS; Maryland State Police; Virginia State Police.

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