Fate of Surrendered Guns in DC

If a person illegally owns a firearm in the District of Columbia they do have the option of voluntarily surrendering their weapon to DC law enforcement. Under most circumstances, surrendering a firearm in this fashion can be done with immunity, such that the individual will not be charged or arrested for possessing the firearm in the first place. There are however, some exceptions to this rule. A DC gun lawyer can help clarify the situations in which a firearm surrender is appropriate, and explain the process and what happens to the firearm after it is given up.

Voluntary Surrender of Firearms

When an individual voluntarily surrenders their firearms in DC, that means that they are purposefully turning their firearm over to the Chief of Police, or a designated agent of the chief of the metropolitan police. The voluntary surrender of firearms will not result in an arrest or prosecution for unlawfully possessing an unregistered firearm. This principal is referred to as “immunity from prosecution.” However, a person who voluntarily surrenders a firearm will not be immune from prosecution if they had previously used the gun during a crime.

Determining Evidentiary Value

When a firearm, destructive device, or ammunition is voluntarily surrendered to police, the Chief of Police must find out from the United States Attorneys Office and Office of the Attorney General if the firearm, destructive device, or ammunition is needed by either agency as evidence. Both offices will internally review their cases involving missing or unrecovered firearms to determine if the surrendered firearm is needed as evidence in any of those cases.

Depending on the circumstances of a particular case, a firearm can prove helpful to the investigation of a crime. For example, if a criminal case involved the firing of a gun, the prosecution may want the firearm evaluated to determine if a recovered bullet was fired from a particular firearm. A prosecuting agency of any pending criminal case involving an unrecovered firearm would be interested in this type of evidence. Even in criminal cases where a gun was used, but not fired, a prosecuting agency may still be interested in the evidence to determine if the general description of the firearm matches the actual firearm.

Impact on Immunity

A person does not have immunity from prosecution if the person had used the firearm during the commission of a crime. Therefore, if either the United States Attorneys Office or Office of the Attorney General determines the firearm is needed as evidence and later determines the person who surrendered the firearm used the weapon during a crime, that person can be charged and prosecuted, even though he or she surrendered the firearm to the police. Merely giving the firearm to the police will not automatically provide immunity under all circumstances.

Guns Without Evidentiary Value

If the firearm someone has surrendered does not have any evidentiary value, the firearm will not be sold, purchased, or used by the police in any way. The Chief of Police will have the firearm destroyed so long as the United States Attorneys Office and Office of the Attorney General do not need the firearm as evidence.

Surrendering a Gun in DC