While there are a few guides online about getting a legal gun in D.C., they are all outdated. Anything written before July 2012 does not reflect the changes in the firearm laws over the past six months which make the registration process somewhat easier and cheaper.
One of my goals over the last nine months writing this series, “Emily Gets Her Gun”, was to help other Washingtonians become gun owners as easily as possible. I went through the registration ordeal without taking any shortcuts or using insider information so that I could find every bump in the road or dead end. I never read any other guide on going through the process.
So here is my guide on how to get a gun in the District. The steps are listed in the order I think is quickest, followed by more detailed tips.
Get a gun — If you aren’t just registering a gun that you already own, I suggest picking out and buying your gun first because the ten-day waiting period begins on the purchase date. Make sure your final pick is on one of these three states’ lists, and that it comes with a magazine that holds no more than 10 rounds.
Transfer the gun — Handguns have to go through a local federal firearms licensee (FFL). Call D.C.’s only legal gun dealer, Charles Sykes, and tell him you will be sending the firearm to his office. Phone is (301) 577-1427. Shotguns and rifles do not need to be transferred through a local FFL. They can then be shipped directly to you from the out-of-state dealer once you can show the registration certificate.
Get the forms — Unfortunately, MPD has not put the forms you need online. Call the firearms registry office at (202) 727-4275 and ask to have them send you the “application for firearm registration certificate” (they call it “PD-219”) and the gun registration packet. For new guns, fill out the right side of the registration form and leave the left side for Mr. Sykes. Download the “statement of eligibility” form and fill it out. Be sure to answer “yes” on the 11th question if you haven’t lied on questions 1 to 10.
Take the online course — Click on this link to watch the video about fundamentals, safety and local laws. It takes about 30 minutes to watch it. You might want to take notes in your registration packet for the written test. At the end, you print out the certificate, sign it and bring it with you to MPD.
Meet with Charles Sykes — When your handgun arrives, Mr. Sykes will call you to make an appointment to fill out the registration form (PD-219). His office is in the same building as MPD, inside the entrance for the DMV on C Street. Bring his $125 fee in cash. He will have you fill out some forms and wait while he calls FBI for an instant background check. Take the gun’s receipt.