Washington D.C. Concealed Carry Laws

Last Updated: October 9, 2017

Disclaimer:  While the information provided here is legal in nature, it is not to be construed as legal advice, and is for educational and entertainment purposes only.  

With gun laws constantly changing and being challenged in court, it can be difficult to keep track of just what the latest laws are on carrying concealed.

Even with all the hoops you have to jump through to be able to purchase a firearm in Washington D.C., recent lawsuits have actually made it easier to get a license to carry concealed handguns!

Our quick reference guide has everything you need to know to get your CCW liense and carry your handgun responsibly!

Flag of Washington DC
Flag of Washington DC

First Things First 

If you’ve been following the gun laws in DC over the years, you’ll know it’s been a rollercoaster ride the entire time, as we all waited to see what the courts finally decided on in letting residents carry concealed handguns in the nation’s capital.  

Fortunately, we seemed to have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.  As of October 2017, Washington DC is now embracing its shall-issue roots, and no longer requires a “good cause” in order to a CCW license applicant to be issued a license.

This means, as long as you meet all the requirements, you will be issued a license, and can carry concealed in the permitted areas of the city.  You still will not be able to carry openly, even with the license, however.

So What’s Required for a CCW License? 

Because of DC’s unique position as part of the US but not exactly its own state, there are some particular requirements when it comes to getting a CCW license.  You’ll first need to pick up an application form from the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), or print out a copy from their website.

To qualify for a DC CCW license, technically called a License to Carry a Handgun (LTC), you must:

  • Be a resident of or have a place of business:
    • In DC;
    • In the US and have a CCW permit from another state; or
    • In the US, and meet all the registration requirements of DC.
  • Be 21 or older;
  • Have a DC-registered handgun;
  • Not be prohibited from owning a handgun (well, yeah); and
  • Meet the training requirements.

If you don’t have a DC-registered handgun, no worries!  You can register one as part of your LTC application and save yourself some time.  Of course, this will usually only apply if you already have a handgun that you want to use for concealed carry.  

If you are buying a new handgun, then it may be better to go through the normal purchasing process, which includes registering the firearm, and then apply for an LTC after you’ve become familiar with the gun.

Most of these requirements are pretty standard, but you’ll want to make sure you don’t fall into any of the categories that would automatically disqualify you from getting an LTC.

You will be denied an LTC if you:

  • Were dishonorably discharged from the US Armed Forces;
  • Are a former US citizen who has renounced his citizenship;
  • Were convicted of two or more DUIs in the last 5 years;
  • Were the subject of a protection order in the last 5 years;
  • Were convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse;
  • Are an alcoholic, addict, or habitual user of controlled dangerous substances; or
  • Suffer from a mental illness or condition that creates a substantial risk you are a danger to yourself or others.

As long as you don’t fall into any of those categories, you are good to go on to the next step!

Train Like You Fight

The training requirement is not too difficult, but may also be skipped in certain situations.  Generally though, unless you are in the military or are law enforcement, you will have to take the training course.  You can even submit the application without having taken the training portion yet, as long as you do complete it within 45 days of submitting your application.

You are exempt from the training requirement if you show:

  • Firearms training provided by an NRA-certified instructor;
  • Your DD214 (if you’re in the military);
  • A hunting license;
  • Retired law enforcement officer credentials; or
  • An armed special police officer license.

For everyone else who doesn’t meet the exemption situations, you’ll need to take 16 hours of certified training and put in 2 hours of range time.  The certified instructors are listed on the MPD website, so as long as you pick one of those instructors, you should meet the requirements.  If you want to be on the safe side, you can always check and make sure the course teaches the required topics.  

The training courses are required to teach at least:

  • Firearm safety, including firearm safety in the home, a discussion of prevention of access by minors, locking and storing of firearms, and use of safety devices such as secure lock boxes;
  • Firearm nomenclature;
  • The basic principles of marksmanship;
  • The care, cleaning, maintenance, loading, unloading, and storage of pistols;
  • Situational awareness, conflict management, and use of deadly force;
  • Selection of pistols and ammunition for defensive purposes; and
  • All applicable District and federal firearms laws.

The live-fire section will require you to complete 2 hours of range training, and receive at least a 70% qualifying score on a course that involves shooting 50 rounds at a target 15 yards away.  The qualification shouldn’t be too difficult, and realistically, you’ll want to get at least 70% of your shots anyway, or you might need more range time before you can safely defend yourself with your firearm.

Carrying Concealed
Carrying Concealed

Locals Only? 

For anyone who does not live in DC, but may work in the DMV area, most likely Virginia or Maryland, you’ll be glad to know that DC does issue non-resident licenses.  

To qualify for a non-resident license, you’ll need to:

  • Meet all the requirements of the standard permit
  • Meet the training requirements, through any DC or out-of-state course; and
  • Provide proof of training on the firearms and self-defense laws of DC.

Not much different from the requirements for a standard LTC, but it’s nice to have the option as a non-resident.

The Waiting Game

Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll need to wait about 90 days before you hear back from the MPD Firearms Registration Section (FRS).  Of course, now that the “good cause” requirement has been eliminated from the LTC application, the MPD may be backed up and you might be waiting much longer to hear back.

It should be a much more straightforward process now that there is no “good cause” requirement for the application, so unless you forgot to provide some information required in the application, you should receive a new LTC in the mail after a bit of a wait.

If you receive a letter denying you the LTC, you’ll want to read over what exactly the problem is, and if it’s a minor issue you can fix, make sure to quickly address the problem.  You have 15 days from the denial to appeal the decision to the MPD chief of police.  

Once you’ve fixed any problems you had, or maybe didn’t have any problems at all, you should finally get your hands on that LTC so you can carry concealed around town!  The only thing you’ll need to remember now is to renew the license every 2 years, and always stay vigilant!

Previously Denied? 

If you had applied for an LTC previously and were denied because you did not have a “good cause”, now is a good time to re-apply for the license, while your training is still hopefully valid (only training taken in the last 2 years can be used in an LTC application).  You’ll have to file the application all over again, but as long as you met all the other requirements last time, you should be granted an LTC this time around!  

Where Do You Think You’re Going? 

Even with an LTC, you’ll still need to be careful where you bring your handgun.  Some places are still off limits, even to LTC holders.

White House
If you’re carrying a firearm, this close to the White House is too close.

You cannot carry concealed:

  • Within 1000 feet of a:
    • Daycare;
    • Elementary school;
    • Vocational school;
    • Secondary school;
    • College;
    • Junior college;
    • University;
    • Public swimming pool;
    • Playground;
    • Video arcade; or
    • Youth center.
  • In a building or office occupied by the DC government or its agencies;
  • In a hospital or office where medical or mental health services are the primary services provide;
  • In a penal institution (i.e. jail, prison), secure juvenile residential facility, or halfway house;
  • In a polling place, while voting is taking place;
  • On any public transportation;
  • In any establishment where alcohol is sold for consumption (i.e. a bar);
  • In a stadium or arena;
  • At a public gathering or special event, once you have been notified firearms are prohibited (by a sign, or by law enforcement officers);
  • At the public memorials on the National Mall and along the Tidal Basin;
  • At the White House complex, including the area surrounded by Constitution Avenue, N.W., 15th Street, N.W., H Street, N.W., and 17th Street, N.W.;
  • At the Naval Observatory, including the area surrounded by Calvert Street, N.W. to Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., and around Observatory Circle to Observatory Lane;
  • Within 1000 feet of a moving dignitary or high-ranking official when they are moving under the protection of the MPD, US Secret Service, US Capitol Police, or any other law enforcement agency working with the MPD; and
  • Any area with a sign clearly stating carrying of firearms is prohibited.

While a lot of these places are pretty standard (i.e. don’t bring guns to a jail), you’ll want to pay special attention to the last couple of circumstances, since they spell out specific instances where you cannot carry concealed (or even openly) near the public monuments, the White House, and near any public officials.  

As long as you stick to your daily routine that does not involve trying to hang out near the White House, you should be fine.  If you do find yourself in a situation where firearms are prohibited, your best bet is to leave the gun in the car, inside a car safe and hidden out of sight.

Safe in trunk of car
Lock up that gun when you can’t bring it with you!

Don’t Carry Too Much

DC also regulates the amount of ammo you can carry while carrying concealed.  For those of you who already checked out our DC gun laws section, you’ll (hopefully) remember that DC limits the magazine size of firearms to only those that can hold 10 rounds or less.  

Because of the DC magazine size rule, when you are carrying concealed, you are only allowed to carry enough ammo to fully load the handgun twice, or up to 20 rounds total, whichever is less.  

That means, if you’ve got a Glock with a round in the chamber and a mag with 10 rounds in it, your spare mag is only allowed to hold 9 rounds, even though you can fit one more in the spare. 

Reciprocity 

One of the benefits of having a LTC is that you’ll be able to carry concealed while visiting the rest of the country!  A number of states in the US recognize the DC LTC, so you’ll be able to keep your handgun strapped to your hip while on your next vacation!

A DC LTC is recognized in:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia

You’ll want to be careful though.  Most of these states have CCW laws that are more gun-friendly than the ones in DC.  Be sure to check out the gun laws and CCW laws of the states you’re visiting to know what exactly you can and can’t do while carrying in those states.

Washington DC reciprocity map
DC CCW Permit Honored by States in Blue

Just Visiting? 

If you’re just taking a trip to see the sights in the nation’s capital, there’s some bad news.  DC does not recognize CCW permits from any state in the US.  Only a DC LTC is valid for carrying concealed in DC.  You’ll just have to suck it up and hope that nothing happens while you go around checking out the monuments and sights in Washington D.C.

Carry On! 

That’s it!  All you need to know about the DC LTC!  Take a look at our recommendations for holsters if you’re looking to put that new license to good use, and don’t forget about CCW insurance, too!

And if you’re a little rusty on the rules for buying and owning guns in DC, be sure to check out our DC gun laws section to refresh your memory if you haven’t checked it out yet!