Virginia Gun Laws

Virginia has preempted firearms laws that govern the entire state. Local law enforcement has the right to regulate any firearm discharge, the transporting of loaded shotguns and rifles, the fingerprinting for certain permits — including concealed weapons permits — pneumatic gun usage, and any revolver or pistol sellers as through the county clerk’s office.

Virginia LawsAny fingerprints taken as a concealed weapons permit requirement can later be returned. Law enforcement has the rights to check the weapon number, the purchasing date, the weapon itself, the name of the weapon owner, and the weapon’s caliber upon weapon purchase.

Virginia is bordered to the north by Maryland and the District of Columbia, to the northwest by West Virginia, to the west by Kentucky, and to the south by Tennessee and North Carolina. It is officially named the Commonwealth of Virginia and is situated on the Atlantic Coast. Open carry is generally legal in Virginia even without a valid license to carry, although some localities ban or restrict this.

Virginia Legal Issues

Virginia has made some firearms illegal to be possessed in state lines. These include semi-automatic shotguns designated as folding stock with a spring tension magazine as well as Striker 12 Shotguns. These firearms are described as too dangerous for usage. All machine guns are to be under registration through the state police department as designated by the National Firearms Act.

Carrying Firearms in Vehicles

Virginia permits anyone who is legally allowed to possess firearms to carry a handgun without a permit, provided it is secured in a locked container or compartment.

Carry in Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

Yes. You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars. You are prohibited from carrying while you consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Self-defense Laws

Virginia has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder intends to harm an occupant of the dwelling.

Open Carry in Virginia

Open carry is generally allowed without a permit for people 18 years of age and older. The following cities and counties have exceptions that disallow the open carry of “assault weapons” (any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock) or shotguns equipped with a magazine that holds more than 7 rounds: the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach and in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, and Prince William. These restrictions do not apply to valid concealed carry permit holders.

Prohibiting Firearms

Virginia has specific places where the law disallows firearms to enter. Since these places are prohibited, consequences will subsequently follow. Firearms are illegal in courthouses, any place where there are religious meetings, air carrier airport terminals, public school property, private school property, and school functions.

Firearms cannot have more than twenty rounds when loaded nor can a shotgun hold more than seven shells at a time while on a public road, a public street, a sidewalk, an alley, a public park, or a right-of-way. Virginia also does not allow these kinds of firearms in any public place in the cities of Richmond, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Alexandria, Newport News, Fairfax, Virginia Beach, and Falls Church.

Certain counties also prohibit these firearms including Prince William, Henrico, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Arlington. This law, however, does not apply to those with concealed weapons permits.

Concealed weapons are not prohibited on any premises that sell alcohol, including clubs, bars, and restaurants. The Virginia Code altered this law in 2010 to say that those with concealed weapons permits are allowed to possess firearms in alcohol-serving establishments as long as they do not consume alcohol themselves. Law enforcement officers are allowed to consume alcohol and carry concealed weapons. Firearms are also not permitted in state parks unless in the outlined areas where concealed weapons may be possessed with a permit.

Assault Weapons Law

Virginia defines an assault weapon as “any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock, or a shotgun with a magazine which will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered”. Virginia restricts the sale and possession of assault weapons to US citizens who are at least 18 years old for a rifle/shotgun or 21 years old for a pistol. Restrictions on carrying assault weapons may apply.

Possession Eligibility

Only certain individuals are allowed to possess firearms in Virginia and many are not prohibited to possess any kind of firearm at all. These include individuals acquitted due to insanity reasons; individuals adjudicated due to mental incompetency; individuals involuntarily committed to treatment centers; individuals designated to protective orders; individuals under drug offense convictions for five years or more; individuals under kidnapping, felony, rape, or robbery convictions while using a firearm; non-United States citizens; and individuals under the age of eighteen.

Minors under eighteen may possess firearms while in the accompaniment of a parent or guardian. Children over the age of twelve are not allowed to use firearms unless authorized by an adult over the age of twenty-one in designated areas.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Virginia will recognize all other state’s license to carry, provided that:

1. The holder of such permit or license is at least 21 years of age; and

2. The permit or license holder carries a photo identification issued by a government agency of any state or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of State; and

3. The holder displays the permit or license and such identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; and

4. The permit or license holder has not previously had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Virginia State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.

Criminal Provisions

Under Virginia law, a license to carry a handgun is not valid in any of the following places or circumstances, whether Virginia issued it, or a person is carrying pursuant to a reciprocity agreement between his or her state of license and Virginia:

  • Hunting while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • While on the private property where the owner has prohibited possession
  • In places of worship
  • Court houses
  • School property and at school functions
  • Jail or Juvenile Detention Facilities
  • On the grounds of any state government building occupied by the executive branch
  • Domestic abusers must surrender their firearms within 24 hours of being served with a final family abuse protective order
  • State police will have a booth at every gun show and will offer to conduct background checks for $2 for people conducting private transfers. These background checks will be completely optional

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