Before 2008, private citizens in Washington D.C. were prohibited from possessing handguns, even in their own homes, unless they were purchased before 1976. However, in 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that handgun ban in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, which ruled that the Second Amendment acknowledges and guarantees the right of the individual to possess and carry firearms, therefore making the handgun ban unconstitutional. Following this Supreme Court decision, D.C. enacted a set of laws requiring D.C. residents to register each firearm with the police, undergo a background check, be fingerprinted, photographed, take an online gun safety course, and pass a written test on the gun laws of D.C, as well as declare the address at which the firearm would be kept. All firearm registration/ licenses must also be resubmitted and reapproved every three years, for each individual firearm. Unless a person has undergone all of these requirements, he/she cannot possess ammunition, and until May 2012, they could only possess ammunition for the caliber of the registered firearms. The District of Columbia has had a long-standing ban on both open and concealed carry, which was struck down as unconstitutional by United States District Judge Frederick Scullin Jr. on Saturday, July 26, 2014, after a lawsuit was filed in 2009.
The decision states: “In light of Heller, McDonald, and their progeny, there is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny. Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the Court grants Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and enjoins Defendants from enforcing the home limitations of D.C. Code 7-2502.02(a)(4) and enforcing D.C. Code 22-4504(a) unless and until such time as the District of Columbia adopts a licensing mechanism consistent with constitutional standards enabling people to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Furthermore, this injunction prohibits the District from completely banning the carrying of handguns in public for self-defense by otherwise qualified non-residents based solely on the fact that they are not residents of the District.” Two days after this ruling, the District filed a motion asking the court to delay implementation of its ruling so the city can appeal or at least have 180 days to create new licensing laws. Early Tuesday morning, they were granted a 90 day stay on the ruling, which means that in about 90 days D.C. may have a permitting process in place for concealed carry laws.