On September 22, 2014, after a federal court declared the District of Columbia’s gun ban unconstitutional, D.C. enacted a May Issue concealed carry permitting law. But what does that mean? Can people carry concealed in D.C. now? How do you get a concealed handgun permit?
On October 23, 2014, just over a month after the law was passed, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) began accepting applications; and this is open to non-D.C. residents as well. The initial application is submitted to MPD who will review it and decide whether to issue a preliminary approval or not. The concealed carry permit is issued by the Chief of MPD, and under Section 910 of the Firearms Regulations Control Act of 1975 (D.C. Act 20-0447;61 DCR 10765), it can be issued to a person who “demonstrates good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property”, “has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol” and is a “suitable person to be so licensed”. It also specifically states: “The fact that an applicant lives or works in a high crime area, in and of itself, is not a sufficient reason for the issuance of a Concealed Carry Pistol License”. On MPD’s official website, one can read in detail what each of these points actually entails, but here is a small glimpse at this. For example, in order to show “good reason to fear”, one must have a need that is “supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks”.
On a more technical note, let’s take a look at the application itself. The application has to include name, address, government issued photo identification number, place and date of birth, height, weight, race, gender, eye color, hair color, occupation, and phone number. Proof of residence must be included along with evidence of completion of the firearms training within the previous two years, fingerprints, a declaration by the applicant as to whether they currently or previously suffered from any mental disorder (within the last five years), and authorization from the applicant to the Department of Behavioral Health for disclosure of information. Proof of “good reason” can include documents, statements of third parties taken under oath before a notary, or personal statements of the applicant. The applicant must also submit a declaration that they are not prohibited from possessing a handgun, that all information is true and accurate, and that they are responsible for compliance with the law. The application can also include “Any information reasonably required by the Chief, as part of the application form or materials, to complete an investigation required by 2338”. The application fee is $75.00, with an additional $35.00 for fingerprints.
Once the application is submitted, the Chief has 90 days to issue a preliminary approval or provide written denial, but the Chief can extend the time for an extra 90 days when there is “good cause”, and the applicant is to be notified in writing. If approved, the applicant has 45 days to complete the firearms training, which include 16 hours of training, 2 hours of range training, training on D.C. firearms law, and self-defense training. However, DC has yet to certify any instructors to teach the required training course, partly because they are trying to charge all applying instructors an exorbitant fee for their instructor certification.
The Chief can limit the geographic area, situations, and times of day, week, month, or year that the concealed carry permit is valid. If not stated on the permit, or limited by the Chief, the permit expires two years from the date of issuance. The Chief can also revoke a permit if the licensee no longer meets the requirements, at which point they will receive written notice and be required to return the permit within ten days.
Having said all of this, there is an appeal process for denials and revocations. Those who would like to appeal the decision are instructed to submit a written request to the Concealed Pistol Licensing Review Board within fifteen days of receiving written notice of the denial, revocation, or limitation. So, let’s say that you file your application, miraculously get approved, complete your training, and are issued a permit. Now what are you supposed to do? First of all, remember that even with your permit, you have to complete the firearm registration process. Also, even with a concealed handgun license, one cannot carry more ammunition than is necessary to load the pistol, and that amount cannot be more than 10 rounds. The handgun has to be completely concealed, which means printing is NOT acceptable since it has to be “entirely hidden from view”.
Just because this law has passed does not mean that it will stay as it stands. This is currently based on an “emergency bill” which allowed this to be passed temporarily, while a permanent legislation is drafted. The council has also debated an amendment that they will try to include in the permanent bill that would require the names of all licensees be disclosed in a public database.
While I agree that this “May Issue” permitting law is laughable in that it allows permits to be issued when the appointed authorities feel like doing so, it is still a baby step in the right direction and even the smallest progress is still progress.