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Virginia Background Check and Gun Laws

The right to keep and bear arms is protected by the Constitution of Virginia.

State Preemption

There is State preemption of local firearm laws.
Localities may regulate:
  • The discharge of firearms.
  • The transportation of a loaded rifle or shotgun.
  • Fingerprinting for concealed handgun permits, though fingerprints may not be kept and must be destroyed or returned to the applicant following the background check.
  • The governing body of any county may require sellers of pistols and revolvers to furnish the clerk of the circuit court of the county, within ten days after sale of any such weapon, with the name and address of the purchaser, the date of purchase, and the number, make and caliber of the weapon sold.
  • The use of pneumatic guns.
Legality of certain firearms

  • Striker 12 Shotguns, aka "streetsweeper," or any semi-automatic folding stock shotgun of like kind with a spring tension drum magazine capable of holding twelve shotgun shells is illegal in the state of Virginia.
  • National Firearms Act weapons are allowed under Virginia state law but machine guns must be registered with the Virginia State Police.
Prohibited Places
Firearms are prohibited from the following places:
  • Places of religious worship, without good and sufficient reason.
  • Any courthouse.
  • An air carrier airport terminal.
  • Loaded firearms that hold more than 20 rounds, or a shotgun that holds more than 7 shells, on any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way, or in any public park or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public in the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William. Holders of Concealed Handgun Permit(CHP)are exempt from this law.
  • The property of any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds; that portion of any property open to the public and then exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; or any school bus owned or operated by any such school. Although a person with a Concealed Handgun Permit is allowed to have their weapon with them on school property so long as they remain inside a vehicle. Should they exit the vehicle, the firearm must remain inside the vehicle while on school property.
  • Concealed handguns are prohibited from any restaurant or club that is licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption.Openly carried handguns are permitted in such places.
  • State parks; except that concealed handguns may be carried by those who have a valid permit.
  • Private property where prohibited by the owner.
Purchasing of firearms

  • A person may not sell or otherwise furnish firearms to any person he knows is prohibited from possessing or transporting a firearm pursuant to § 18.2-308.1:1, 18.2-308.2, subsection B of § 18.2-308.2:01, or § 18.2-308.7.
  • Dealers must perform a criminal background check.
  • Non-residents may purchase long guns and handguns, but a handgun purchase requires a report from the Department of State Police.
  • One handgun per 30-day period.

    • Except:

      • Upon completion of an enhanced background check
      • A law enforcement agency
      • An agency duly authorized to perform law-enforcement duties
      • State and local correctional facilities
      • A private security company licensed to do business within the Commonwealth
      • The purchase of antique firearms
      • A person whose handgun is stolen or irretrievably lost who deems it essential that such handgun be replaced immediately
      • A person who trades in a handgun at the same time he makes a handgun purchase and as a part of the same transaction, provided that no more than one transaction of this nature is completed per day
      • A person who holds a valid Virginia permit to carry a concealed handgun
      • A person who purchases a handgun in a private sale for the enhancement of a personal collection of curios or relics or who sells all or part of such collection of curios and relics.
      • A law-enforcement officer
      • The exchange or replacement of a handgun by a seller for a handgun purchased from such seller by the same person seeking the exchange or replacement within the 30-day period immediately preceding the date of exchange or replacement
Open Carry (OC)

  • Legal when the firearm is not hidden from common observation.
  • No permit is required to openly carry a firearm.
  • The minimum age to open carry (OC) is 18.
  • It is legal to openly carry in a vehicle.
  • Since concealed carry is prohibited in restaurants and clubs that serve alcohol, it is common for someone carrying a concealed firearm to comply with the law by tucking their shirt behind the butt of their handgun just before entering the premises. This is known as the Virginia Tuck.
Concealed Carry
Concealed firearms: Virginia shall issue a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) to any qualified person, 21 years of age or older who applies in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides. Virginia also issues non-resident permits to qualifying individuals. The permit may cost no more than $50 for residents, and $100 for non-residents. The permit is valid for five years, but can be revoked for unlawful activities. The CHP does not permit the carrying of any concealed weapons enumerated in § 18.2-308 except a handgun. A CHP holder may not carry a concealed weapon into a restaurant or club licensed to serve alcohol for on-premises consumption. A CHP holder, while carrying a concealed handgun, may not be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. A conviction of driving while intoxicated [§ 18.2-266] or public intoxication [§ 18.2-388] are examples of prima facie evidence that the person is "under the influence." Virginia maintains concealed handgun permit reciprocity with other States and recognizes some licenses from other States without a formal reciprocity agreement. The list of such states is maintained by the Virginia State Police.
The following persons are prohibited from applying for a concealed handgun permit:
  • Any prohibited person enumerated above.
  • An individual who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • An individual who has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm in violation of § 18.2-280 or 18.2-286.1 or brandishing of a firearm in violation of § 18.2-282 within the three-year period immediately preceding the application.
  • An individual who has been convicted of stalking.
  • An individual who has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within five years prior to the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
  • An individual who is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana or any controlled substance.
Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holder exemptions

  • May purchase more than one handgun per 30-day period.
  • May carry a semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol loaded with 20 rounds or more in certain, prohibited, public areas.
  • Gun Free School Zone Act: CHP holders may carry guns on school grounds in their personal vehicles as long as they stay in the car and the gun remains concealed
  • May carry firearms in the VA General Assembly.
  • May carry concealed handguns in State parks.
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