Surrendering a Gun in DC

In DC, it is illegal to possess or control any firearm or ammunition without a valid registration certificate. If someone has a gun, but no registration certificate for it, they run the risk of being arrested and can be charged with the crime of Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, which is a misdemeanor offense in DC. However, in an effort to avoid an arrest, DC law provides a person the opportunity to voluntarily surrender their firearm to the police. A DC gun lawyer can advise you on when this is a good decision, and how to successfully and safely turn in a firearm.

Weapons Covered by the Law

Firearms, destructive devices, and ammunition are all covered by this law. A firearm means any weapon that is designed or intended to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. This definition even includes firearms that are not operable. Destructive devices include explosives, poison gas bombs, grenades, rockets, missiles, mines, or any device that is designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant through a smooth bore barrel, or any device containing tear gas.

Surrender Procedure

A person can surrender a firearm to any police district, police station, or central headquarters. Alternatively, they can summon a police officer to their residence or place of business to abandon the firearm. In whatever manner the firearm is surrendered, the firearm must be unloaded. If the firearm is to be transported to a police facility in a vehicle, the firearm must not be directly or readily accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle. If there is not a separate compartment in the vehicle aside from the driver’s compartment, the firearm must be in a locked container which must be separate from the glove compartment or console.

If the firearm is not being transported by vehicle, the firearm must be unloaded, in a locked container, and must be separate and apart from any ammunition. Additionally, it is wise for the individual to contact the police station ahead of time to put them on notice that they will be voluntarily surrendering a firearm.

Immunity From Prosecution

Immunity from prosecution means that a person will not be held criminally liable for a violation of law. In the context of a voluntary surrender, immunity from prosecution means that a person cannot be arrested or prosecuted on a charge with respect to the firearm, destructive device, or ammunition voluntarily delivered. However, there is no immunity from prosecution if the individual used the gun during the commission of a crime. It is wise for an individual to consult with an attorney before voluntarily surrendering a firearm to ensure that they comply with the exact procedure that is required for a voluntary surrender to avoid any charges for unlawfully possessing a firearm or ammunition.

Steps Taken After Surrender

If a firearm, destructive device, or ammunition is voluntarily surrendered, the Chief of Police is required to make inquiries to both the United States Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General to determine if the firearm is needed as evidence in a criminal prosecution. If the evidence is not needed by either prosecuting agency, the firearm or ammunition will be destroyed.

Determining the Evidentiary Value of a Firearm

The prosecuting agency, either the United States Attorney’s Office or Office of the Attorney General will determine whether there is an open or pending case in which the firearm was involved. For example, if either office has cases that involve a missing firearm that fits the description of the surrendered firearm, it is possible the prosecuting office will want to do further investigation to determine whether it was involved in a crime.

Benefit of a Lawyer When Surrendering a Firearm

A DC gun lawyer will know exactly what someone needs to do in order to successfully surrender their weapon without running the risk of being arrested or facing a criminal charge. The lawyer will also be able to advise their client to provide someone with a complete understanding of the benefits of voluntarily surrendering their firearm and any risks they may face given their personal circumstances.