D.C. Gun Owners Must Re-Register Weapons

Big changes for gun owners in the nation’s capital will impact tens of thousands of law-abiding citizens, many of whom have no idea the change is coming.

The new requirement for gun owners in the District goes into effect next year and failure to comply could land you in jail.

Starting Jan. 1, all registered gun owners in the District must re-register their firearms within 90 days. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said notices will start going out to gun owners soon.

“Every three years, you’ll have confirm you still live in the District and you still have your firearm.” Lanier told News4's Mark Segraves.

The re-registration requirement will impact anyone who registered a firearm in the District between 1976 to 2010.

“There are probably between 40,000 and 50,000 people who registered a gun during that time,” Lanier said.

Not everybody is happy with the new requirement.

Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, worries the requirement could make criminals out of law abiding gun owners.

“Of the 50,000 or however many people there are, at least one person won’t comply.” Shapiro said. “Not willfully but because they haven’t heard about the new law and all of a sudden they’ll be in technical violation of the law which has serious penalties.”

According to MPD spokesperson Gwen Crump, the penalties for not re-registering your gun range from a $13 fee to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

“A person who fails to renew their firearms registration within 90 days of the deadline (meaning, 90 day renewal period + 90 day grace period = 180 days total) will have their firearm registration canceled, will be in possession of an unregistered firearm, and may face criminal charges punishable by a fine up to $1,000 or 1 year in jail, or both,” Crump wrote in an email.

What makes the re-registration fee more cumbersome for many is that the vast majority of re-registrations have to be done in person at police headquarters.

“After the first re-registration, it will be done online or by mail you won’t ever have to come in again.” Lanier said.

Dick Heller, a D.C. resident who sued the city to get hand guns legalized and won the landmark Supreme Court decision, said he’s going back to court.

He said he’s filed suit to challenge the new requirement.

“You don’t see criminals registering guns,” Heller said.

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