By George L. Lyon, Jr, Esq.
Arsenal Attorneys frequently advises clients in the concealed carry of firearms, including licenses to carry in the District of Columbia by residents and nonresidents alike. After helping win the battle for these rights, I now help clients renew their carry licenses. This blog provides a summary of the license renewal procedure. But first, some history.
Two years ago, on September 28, 2017, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals declined to overturn the ruling of its three-judge panel in Wrenn v. District of Columbia finding DC’s ‘may issue’ concealed carry licensing scheme unconstitutional. Since that time, DC has been a ‘shall issue’ concealed carry jurisdiction.
As a result of the court’s ruling, DC concealed carry licenses have increased from 123 in September 2017 to 3,339 as of the end of August 2019. Despite DC’s lamentations that shall issue conceal carry would threaten public safety, the record shows that DC’s concealed carry license holders have been exceedingly law abiding. Since June of 2014, when the courts first forced DC to issue concealed carry licenses, only two concealed carry licenses have been revoked for criminal violations and these were not for violent crimes, but rather for violation of one of DC’s myriad, complex weapons offenses, e.g., possessing a firearm in DC the license holder had not registered.
Nor have DC concealed license holders set off gun fights in the street. There has been just one reported shooting by a DC concealed carry license holder. It occurred when the license holder fired in self-defense when attacked by two would be robbers. No charges were filed against the licensed carrier.
Given that DC requires its concealed carry licenses to be renewed every two years and that quite a few people applied for carry licenses soon after DC went shall issue in September of 2017, we thought we would review the procedure for renewing DC carry licenses. The good news is that unlike the rather complex and time-consuming process for receiving the initial carry license, the renewal process has been greatly streamlined.
Although the initial mandatory training for the DC carry license is 16 hours of classroom instruction and two hours of range training, the renewal training requirement is just four hours of classroom training plus a two-hour range session. The renewal training requirement is mandatory and not waivable. A DC-licensed firearm instructor will provide you a certificate documenting proof of your training which you must submit with your renewal application. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has a portal on its website allowing you to pay the $75 fee and submit the renewal application and training certificate online. It can be accessed at this link. If your renewal is submitted online, your renewed license will be mailed to you in about a week.
Be advised that for reasons unknown the portal is sometimes unreliable. Alternatively, you may submit the application and training certificate at MPD’s firearm registration office at 300 Indiana Avenue to submit your application, training certificate, and $75 renewal fee. When submitting in person, your renewed license will be issued to you after about an hour’s wait.
Remember, a carry license holder may only carry a firearm that has been registered in DC. There is no requirement to re-register the guns that you carry. In a later blog, we will explain which firearms are legal to possess and register in Washington.
Arsenal Attorneys’ George Lyon is licensed to practice law in Virginia and the District of Columbia. He was one of the plaintiffs in the Palmer v. District of Columbia case that forced DC to begin issuing concealed carry licenses and in the Heller case that legalized handguns in Washington, DC. Mr. Lyon is licensed by the Metropolitan Police Department to teach the DC concealed carry course including the renewal course and conducts the course monthly. His next class is November 16 in Arlington, Virginia. To sign up for his course, contact Mr. Lyon at gll[at]arsenalattorneys.com or at 703-291-3312.
This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.
As gun lawyers, Arsenal Attorneys™ advise clients in the implications of keeping and bearing arms. We draw (no pun intended) on our collective in-house experience as lawyers, firearms instructors, range safety officers, and firearms dealers—a holistic approach, if you will. Regardless of how we look at it, backpacks and guns just don’t mix. From a legal standpoint, or tactically speaking, once you separate a gun from your person, you run the risk of making it inaccessible or worse, forgetting it altogether. Thus, your gun might not be where you need it, or you might take it where it is forbidden.
In self-defense law classes, we stress to students the need to carry their guns. Venable firearms instructor Tom Givens has taught many thousands of students over his 35 plus years as an instructor. Givens reports that 66 of his students have been involved in gun fights. Sixty survived with no injuries. Three were injured. Three were killed. Of this sample population, Givens confirmed the fatalities occurred when those three of his students found themselves unarmed in the face of danger.
When left without a practical method to carry a firearm on their person, many people choose to carry off their bodies. This is especially common with women who tend to wear clothes that are form-fitting and lack layers to conceal a sidearm. A purse becomes the most readily available option. Some people find a firearm too uncomfortable to carry and opt for off body carry in a fanny pack or backpack. Still others need to transport a firearm, and rather than going ‘strapped’, they carry their gun in a bag.
Off body carry, particularly with a backpack, however, carries both tactical and legal risks.
Lack of quick access to the firearm poses practical and liability problems. The need for a firearm is likely to arise rapidly. If a concealed carrier has the time to take the backpack off, open it up, find the gun amid everything else in the backpack, and pull out the gun, there is a good chance he has the opportunity to retreat and avoid using deadly force altogether. A safe retreat, if available, is almost always going to be a person’s best option both tactically and legally. After all, avoiding the gun fight could mean you don’t get shot, don’t get sued by the person you shot or his family, and don’t get arrested. Alternatively, if there is no time to draw the gun from a bag, then it is like having no gun at all.
We always emphasize situational awareness, and a frequent legal problem involving guns and bags reflects the total opposite mindset: forgetfulness. In numerous cases, we have represented well-intentioned clients whose guns forgotten in bags or briefcases are discovered by security guards at the entrances of ‘gun-free zones’, especially during x-ray screening at government facilities and airports. Incidentally, the number of arrests at the airport for unlawful possession of guns or ammunition has dramatically increased, not necessarily because of an increased number of guns discovered, but because of more aggressive prosecution of these cases.
Every case in which we have been contacted by a potential client arrested for gun possession in a security checkpoint had forgotten that gun in a backpack. There are obviously serious consequences even to inadvertently entering a secured area with a firearm. In the District of Columbia, the government can charge the felony of carrying a handgun without a license, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of unregistered ammunition, the latter two charges being misdemeanors having potential jail terms of one year. Assuming the individual has a license to carry in the District of Columbia, that license very well could end up revoked and the carrier charged with a misdemeanor for violating carry restrictions. That offense comes with a potential jail term of 180 days.
At Virginia airports, the charge could be carrying a dangerous weapon into an air terminal, a Class One misdemeanor, carrying a potential jail term of one year and/or a fine of up to $2,500. On top of that, TSA is likely to impose an administrative fine on the offender.
There are similar statutes covering courthouses and schools in Virginia.
In almost all cases involving persons with a clean record and no aggravating circumstances, it could be possible to negotiate a disposition that avoids jail time. However, if a person convicted of a crime could have been subject to imprisonment of more than a year, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, and regardless of whether they had been imprisoned at all, such a person would become a ‘prohibited person’ and therefore lose the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
Our best advice, to ensure your personal safety and to reduce your legal risks, don’t carry a gun in a backpack.