A wave of violence continued in D.C. on Wednesday, with three fatal shootings, bringing the homicide count in the city to 97 so far this year. That’s a 30 percent increase from last year, which saw 105 homicides for the entire year. (The city hit a half-century low in 2012, with 88 homicides.)
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier at a news conference Tuesday offered one possible explanation for the increase in crime this summer: illegal guns.
“When people say what is driving this,” said Lanier, referring to the killings, “it is illegal firearms in the homes and hands of the wrong people, and when children have access to firearms, bad things happen.” On Monday, Lanier said that officers had seized 102 illegal guns in the past 30 days, which she termed a “staggering number.”
City leaders asked the public to report anyone they know in possession of illegal firearms.
Due to court mandates, the District’s gun laws have changed recently, although they are among the strictest in the nation. Here’s a review of the D.C. gun laws.
It is illegal to possess the following firearms in D.C.:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Machine guns
- Short-barreled rifles
- An assault weapon
- A .50 BMG rifle
For a resident’s gun to be considered legal, it must be registered with the police department. To register your gun, you must:
- Be 21 or older
- Not be convicted of certain weapon offenses or felonies
- In the past five years, you must not have been convicted of a dangerous drug offense, acquitted of a criminal charge by reason of insanity, committed voluntarily or involuntarily to a mental institution or have a history of violent behavior.
- Not have been found negligent in any firearm mishap, injuring or killing someone else.
In July 2014, a federal judge overturned a provision in D.C.’s gun laws that prevented people from legally carrying handguns in the city’s public places. In response, city leaders scrambled to enact legislation that would more narrowly define who can carry guns in public and where they can carry them.
These new laws have been challenged in court, but as of now, in order to obtain a concealed carry permit from police, you must:
- Pass background and training tests
- Provide “good reason” for carrying a weapon, such as having a stalker you feel threatened by
- Have a properly registered gun
Even if you have a concealed carry permit, you are still prohibited from carrying the gun in government buildings, places where alcohol is served, near a presidential motorcade and in education buildings.
Bowser planned to discuss illegal guns in the city during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. To report an illegal gun, call 202-727-9099 or text an anonymous tip to 50411.