Carrying a Rifle or Shotgun

Carrying a Rifle or Shotgun in DC

In order to secure a conviction for Carrying a Rifle or Shotgun as a misdemeanor in Washington, D.C., the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the defendant carried a rifle or shotgun on or about his/her person, (2) the defendant did so voluntarily and on purpose, and not by mistake or accident; and (3) the defendant was not permitted by law to do so.

In order to prove this offense as a felony, the government must also prove that the defendant carried the rifle or shotgun in a place other than his/her home, place of business, or land/premises possessed and controlled by the defendant.

“Rifle” means a grooved bore firearm using a fixed metallic cartridge with a single projectile and designed or redesigned to be fired from the shoulder.  “Shotgun” means a smooth grooved bore firearm using a fixed shotgun shell with either a number of ball shot or a single projectile, and designed or redesigned to be fired from the shoulder.  “Firearm” is defined as a weapon, regardless of operability, that is designed as or readily converted into a device that can expel a bullet or other projectile by an action of an explosive.

A person “carries a rifle or shotgun” if the firearm is either in the person’s direct possession or is conveniently accessible/within reach.  Possession may be shared with one or more people.  Mere presence near a rifle/shotgun or mere knowledge of its location is not enough to show that the defendant carried it.  Instead, the person must have the power and intent to exercise control over the rifle/shotgun.

The offense of carrying a rifle or shotgun is punishable as a misdemeanor by a fine of not more than $1,000 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.  The offense as a felony carries a maximum sentence of 5 years and/or fine of up to $5,000.  D.C. Code § 22-4504(a-1).   D.C. Code § 22-4515.