The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department has issued formal, written guidance to its officers entitled "Impact of Palmer v. District of Columbia on Firearms Enforcement" dated July 27, 2014. Below is an excerpt of that guidance, which was signed by Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier. A copy of the original guidance can be downloaded from a link at the bottom of this blog entry. All of the following text is taken directly from the DCMPD document, and it does not constitute legal advice from our law firm. Please note, no such guidance was necessarily provided to the other law enforcement authorities exercising jurisdiction in various areas of the District, including the US Park Police and the US Capitol Police, among others. Our law firm includes attorneys licensed in the District of Columbia, where we also maintain an office. We welcome prospective clients to contact us with their questions.
Immediate impact of Palmer v. District of Columbia on Firearms Enforcement
Effective immediately, pursuant to the decision in Palmer v. District of Columbia issued on July 26, 2014, and the directive of the Attorney General o fthe District of Columbia, members of the Metropolitan Police Department shall not enforce D.C. Official Code §22-4504(a) until further notice.
D.C. Official Code §22-4504(a)
D.C. Official Code §22-4504(a) No person shall carry within the District of Columbia either openly or concealed on or about their person, a pistol, or any deadly or dangerous weapon capable of being so concealed.
Residents of the District in possession of an unregistered firearm may be charged with Unregistered Firearm and, if applicable, Unregistered Ammunition if they do not also reside in a jurisdiction where they could legally possess the firearm. At this time, individuals who do not live in the District shall not be charged with either unregistered firearm or unregistered ammunition, but other charges may apply.
There is no change to any other criminal charges, such as Unlawful Possession of Firearms (§22-4503) (which, among other things, prohibits possession by felons, fugitives from justice, and anyone under a CPO requiring them to relinquish firearms0, and Possession of a Firearm while Committing a Crime of Violence, or a Dangerous Crime (§22-4502).
You stop a man on the street carrying a firearm and:
Scenario 1: The man says he is a resident of the District, but the gun is unregistered.
- You should charge him with Unregistered Firearm.
Scenario 2: The man lives in Vermont, which does not require a license or permit for either open or concealed carry of a handgun.You run his name, and no criminal record is apparent.
- You should record any relevant information for potential further investigation, and he is free to leave.
Scenario 3: The man lives in Virginia, where no license or permit is required to openly carry a handgun. However, when you run his name, records indicate that is a convicted felon.
- Under District and federal law, felons may not legally possess a firearm. You should arrest him for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm (§22-4503).
D.C. Official Code §7-2502.02(a)(4)
In addition, members of the Firearms Registration Section are prohibited from refusing registration of handguns solely on the basis that the objective of the applicant is to carry the handgun in public for self-defense.