NRA / ILA
Firearms Laws for
Virginia (As of June 2010) Compiled by:
NRA-Institute for Legislative Action
11250 Waples Mill Road
A synopsis of state laws on purchase, Fairfax, Virginia 22030
possession and carrying of firearms. www.nraila.org
QUICK REFERENCE CHART It is a crime for any person to sell, give or otherwise
furnish a handgun to a minor if he has reason to believe
Rifles and that the buyer or recipient is under 18 years of age, unless
Shotguns Handguns such transfer is made between family members or for the
Permit to Purchase No No purpose of engaging in a sporting event or activity. A person
Registration of Firearms No No under 18 shall not possess or transport a handgun or assault
Licensing of Owners No No firearm.1
Permit to Carry No Yes This prohibition does not apply to a minor in his own
home or on his property or on the property of another
STATE CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION with prior permission, while accompanied by an adult
while hunting, at a range or firearm educational class, and
“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of while transporting an unloaded firearm to and from such
the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe activities.
defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to It is unlawful for a person convicted of a felony, or any
keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing person under 29 with a juvenile adjudication, as a 14-year-
armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to old or older, which would be a felony if committed by an
liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under adult, or a person acquitted by reason of insanity and
strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” committed to a mental institution, to possess or transport
Article 1, Section 13. a firearm. It is unlawful for any person who is subject to a
protective order issued pursuant to family abuse or stalking
PURCHASE AND POSSESSION to purchase or transport any firearm while the order is
in effect. It is unlawful for anyone adjudicated legally
A criminal history record information check is required incompetent or mentally incapacitated or involuntarily
prior to purchasing any firearm, except for an antique or its committed to purchase, possess or transport a firearm. It is
replica. A fee of $2.00 will be collected for such a check. unlawful to transfer a firearm to such persons.
For non-residents it is $5.00. If any buyer or transferee is It shall be unlawful for any person knowingly to
denied the right to purchase a firearm, he may exercise his authorize a child under the age of twelve to use a firearm
right of access to and review of the criminal history record except when the child is under the supervision of an adult.
information, provided such action is initiated within thirty It is unlawful to possess, sell, transfer, or import any
days of the denial. A licensed firearm dealer shall not deliver semi-automatic folding stock shotgun with a spring tension
a rifle or shotgun to a non-resident until an approval report drum magazine capable of holding 12 rounds.
is received from the state police or 10 days have gone by, A non-citizen or alien not admitted for permanent
whichever comes first. Permit holders may purchase more residence shall not possess or transport an assault firearm,
than 1 handgun a month. Non-licensed persons may only and a gun dealer shall not transfer it to such person. Most
buy 1 handgun a month. shotguns are not included in the term assault firearm.
No state permit is required to otherwise purchase or When a member of the armed services wishes to purchase
possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun. Virginia residents a firearm, the permanent duty post of a person in the armed
may purchase firearms from any licensed Federal Firearms services is their assigned residence. When a purchaser
Licensee, even if they are out of state. presents a copy of their permanent orders assigning residence
in Virginia, along with a photo-identification issued by permit application. The fee shall not exceed $50. The
the Department of Defense, no other documentation or court shall issue the permit within 45 days of receipt of the
residency is required by the seller. completed application unless it appears that the applicant
is disqualified. A court may authorize the clerk to issue
CARRYING concealed handgun permits, without judicial review, to
applicants who have submitted complete applications, for
The carrying of any concealed firearm by a person about whom the criminal history records check does not indicate
his person, hidden from common observation, is prohibited. a disqualification and, after consulting with either the sheriff
Exceptions to this prohibition include: or police department of the county or city, about which
1. carrying in one’s place of abode or the curtilage thereof. there are no outstanding questions or issues concerning
2. any regularly enrolled member of a target shooting the application. The court clerk shall be immune from suit
organization who is at, or going to or from, an established arising from any acts or omissions relating to the issuance
shooting range, provided that the weapons are unloaded of concealed handgun permits without judicial review
and securely wrapped while being transported. unless the clerk was grossly negligent or engaged in willful
3. any regularly enrolled member of a weapons collection misconduct. This shall not be construed to limit, withdraw,
organization who is at, or going to or from, a bonafide or overturn any defense or immunity already existing in
weapons exhibition, provided the weapons are unloaded statutory or common law, or to affect any cause of action
and securely wrapped while being transported. accruing prior to July 1, 2010.
4. any person carrying such weapons between his place
of abode and a place of purchase or repair, provided the The copy of a concealed handgun permit application
weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being becomes a de facto permit if the court does not grant or
transported. deny the permit within a 45-day period of the receipt of the
5. any person actually engaged in lawful hunting under application. Once the court grants or denies the application,
inclement weather conditions necessitating temporary the person either surrenders the de facto permit to the court
protection of his firearm. or the person will be issued a concealed handgun permit.
6. a retired law-enforcement officer who receives proof of A disqualified person includes one who is ineligible to
consultation and favorable review is authorized to carry a purchase, transport, or possess a firearm; a person who it
concealed handgun in the same manner as a law-enforcement is alleged, in a sworn written statement submitted to the
officer authorized to carry a concealed handgun. court, that in the opinion of such sheriff, chief of police or
7. any of the following retired officers with 20 years of attorney for the Commonwealth is likely to use a weapon
service or more; any State Police officer retired from the unlawfully or negligently to endanger others based upon
Department of State Police, any officer retired from the personal knowledge or upon the sworn written statement of
Division of Capitol Police, any local law-enforcement of- a competent person having personal knowledge; a habitual
ficer, any auxiliary police officer or animal control officer drunkard or an addict or unlawful user of a controlled
retired from a police department or sheriff ’s office within substance; dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed
the Commonwealth, any special agent retired from the forces; an illegal alien; a person who in the preceding
State Corporation Commission or the Alcoholic Bever- three years has been convicted of drunkenness or a violent
age Control Board, any conservation police officer retired misdemeanor; or a person who within the preceding 5
from the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and years was involuntarily committed. The court may require
any Virginia Marine Police officer retired from the Law proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence
Enforcement Division of the Virginia Marine Resources with a handgun. Proof includes completion of a firearm
Commission. All such persons must carry written proof training course offered by the NRA, the state, or a school;
of consultation with and favorable review of the need to participation in organized shooting competition or military
carry a concealed handgun issued by the chief officer of the service; or any governmental police agency firearms course;
agency from which he/she resigned. previously held a firearm carrying license. The permit shall
contain the name, address, date of birth, gender, height,
A person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing weight, color of hair, eyes, and signature of the permittee and
to the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county or city in judge issuing the permit, and the date it was issued. Permits
which the applicant resides for a permit to carry a concealed shall be valid for 5 years. Persons who previously have been
handgun. The application shall be made under oath, before issued a concealed handgun permit shall not be required to
a notary or other person qualified to take oaths, and shall be appear in person to apply for a new five-year permit and the
made on a form prescribed by the Supreme Court, requiring application for the new permit may be submitted via the
only that information necessary to determine eligibility for United States mail. If a permittee moves from the address
the permit. A clerk of court is allowed to withhold from the listed on the permit, he shall within 30 days notify the
public the social security number in a concealed handgun issuing court of the change of address and the court located
where the permittee has moved to, shall issue a new permit. Police, successfully meeting the requirements for resident
The person issued the permit shall have such permit on his applications and by submitting fingerprints.
person at all times when he is carrying a concealed handgun
and must display the permit and proper photo identification ANTIQUES AND REPLICAS
upon demand by a law enforcement officer.
The specific reasons for a denial shall be stated in the Antique firearm means any firearm manufactured in or
order of the court. Upon denial of the application, the clerk before 1898 and any replica of such a firearm if such a replica is
shall provide the person with notice, in writing, of his right not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional
to an oral hearing. Upon request of the applicant made center-fire ammunition or uses rimfire or conventional
within 21 days, the court shall place the matter on the docket center-fire ammunition which is no longer manufactured in
for an oral hearing. The applicant may be represented by the U.S. and which is not readily available in the ordinary
counsel, but counsel shall not be appointed, and the rules channels of commercial trade. This exception applies only
of evidence shall apply. The final order of the court shall to sales by federally licensed gun dealers. The restrictions on
include the court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. concealed carrying and possession by prohibited persons
Any person denied a permit may present a petition for otherwise apply.
review to the Court of Appeals. The petition for review
shall be filed within sixty days of the expiration of the time MACHINE GUNS
for requesting a hearing, or if a hearing is requested, within
sixty days of the entry of the final order of the circuit court A machine gun is defined as a weapon that shoots or is
following the hearing. If the decision to deny the permit is designed to shoot, automatically without manual reloading
reversed upon appeal, taxable costs incurred by the person more than one shot by a single function of the trigger.
shall be paid by the Commonwealth. Possession of a machine gun for an aggressive or
It is unlawful to carry any firearm at any time in any offensive purpose is prohibited. All machine guns in the
elementary, junior high, or high school, or on such school state must be registered within 24 hours of acquisition with
property or discharge a firearm on school grounds or within the Department of State Police.
1,000 feet of school property, except as part of the curriculum A presumption of possession for an offensive or aggressive
or other school-sponsored program of any organization purpose is raised by: a failure to register; possession by a
permitted by the school. Firearms may be possessed in a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence;
vehicle if unloaded and locked in a closed container or possession elsewhere than on one’s premises owned or
vehicle trunk. rented for permanent residence or business occupancy; or
Any person with a concealed handgun permit may when empty or loaded shells for the machine gun are found
carry a concealed handgun onto school property while in in the immediate vicinity.
a vehicle to drop off or pick up a child, only if the permit This law does not prohibit or interfere with any machine
holder remains in the vehicle with the handgun completely gun registered with the State Police, that is possessed for
concealed. scientific purposes, or not usable as a weapon and possessed
On and after July 1, 2010, no person who carries a as a curiosity, ornament or keepsake or possessed for a
concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive.
club for which a license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages
for on-premises consumption has been granted by the “SAWED OFF” SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES
Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, may consume
an alcoholic beverage while on the premises. A “sawed-off ” shotgun is defined as any weapon loaded
It is unlawful to carry any firearm without good and or unloaded, originally designed as a shoulder weapon,
sufficient reason to a place of worship while a religious utilizing a self-contained cartridge from which a number of
meeting is being held. ball shot pellets or projectiles may be fired simultaneously
A valid concealed handgun permit or license issued from a smooth or rifled bore by a single function of the firing
by another state shall be valid in the Commonwealth if the device and which has a barrel length of less than 18 inches
person is at least 21 years of age, the issuing state can provide for smooth bore weapons and 16 inches for rifled weapons.
verification and that states law are adequate to prevent Weapons of less than .225 caliber shall not be included.
issuance of a permit by persons who would be prohibited in A “sawed-off ” rifle is defined as a rifle of any caliber,
Virginia. The Superintendent of State Police, in consultation loaded or unloaded, which expels a projectile by action of
with the Office of the Attorney General, may also enter an explosion and is designed as a shoulder weapon with a
into agreements for reciprocal recognition with any state barrel or barrels length of less than 16 inches or which has
qualifying for recognition under Virginia law. been modified to an overall length of less than 26 inches.
A non-resident 21 years of age or older may obtain Possession of a “sawed-off ” shotgun or “sawed-off ” rifle
a non-resident license by applying to the Virginia State is unlawful except for the following purposes:
1. Possession for scientific purposes, or possession of a intent to transfer to an ineligible person, shall be sentenced
“sawed-off ” shotgun or “sawed off ” rifle not usable as a to a mandatory minimum term of 5 years.
firing weapon and possessed as a curiosity ornament or It is unlawful to hunt with a firearm while under the
keepsake, or the possession of a “sawed-off ” shotgun or influence of an intoxicant or narcotic drug.
“sawed-off ” rifle in compliance with federal law. A person with a concealed carry handgun permit may
2. The manufacture for, and sale of, to the military or law hunt lawfully while carrying their concealed handgun as
enforcement or to penal institutions, provided that every long as they have their permit with them.
manufacturer or dealer shall keep a register of all “sawed- No locality shall have the authority to bring suit against a
off ” shotguns and “sawed-off ” rifles manufactured or firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor,
handled by him or her. The register shall keep a full dealer, seller, or trade association for damages, abatement,
description of the person to whom delivered or from injunctive relief or any other remedy resulting from or
whom it was received. relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture,
No registered “sawed-off ” shotgun or “sawed-off ” rifle distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition
may be transferred without the registrant notifying the to the public. The right to bring any such action is hereby
Superintendent of State Police, in writing, of the name and reserved exclusively to the Commonwealth. Any action
address of the recipient. brought by the Commonwealth pursuant to this section
shall be brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the
MISCELLANEOUS Commonwealth. This shall also apply equally to any state
governmental entity, including a department, agency, or
It is unlawful to discharge a firearm in or across any road, or authority.
right-of-way, except at an approved firing range.
It is unlawful to discharge any firearm in any public street or 1. “Assault firearm” means any semi-automatic center-fire
in any place of public business or public gathering, except rifle or pistol which is equipped with a magazine which will
to protect life or property, or unless otherwise authorized hold more than twenty rounds of ammunition or designed
by law. by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped
It is a crime to maliciously discharge a firearm within an with a folding stock.
occupied building in such a manner to endanger the lives
of the occupants or to maliciously shoot at or maliciously SOURCES: VA. CODE ANN. §§15.2-915; 15.2-915.1;
throw any missile at or against any dwelling or other §18.2-279 through 281; §18.2-283 through 286; §18.2-
occupied building whereby the lives of the occupants are 288 through 293.1; §18.2-295; §18.2-299 through 303.1;
placed in peril. If the act is unlawful, but not malicious, the §18.2-308; §18.2-308.1:1 through 308.1:5; §18.2-308.2:01;
person shall be guilty of a lesser category of crime. If a person §18.2-308.2:1 and 308.2:2; §18.2-309 and 10; §18.2-311.1
willfully discharges a firearm within, or at, a school building,
occupied or not, he or she shall be guilty of a felony.
It is unlawful to set a spring gun or a set gun or other
firearm that is discharged by a trip wire or similar device.
It is unlawful to sell, furnish or give a toy gun (other
than a cap pistol) if it can discharge a blank or ball charge
by means of powder or other explosive. It is unlawful to
remove, deface or alter any serial number, maker’s name or
other identifying mark on any firearm.
A mandatory penalty of 3 years for a first offense, and 5
years for a subsequent offense, is provided as a separate and
consecutive felony offense for using or displaying a firearm
during the commission of certain violent felonies and drug
offenses. A person ineligible to possess a firearm who solicits,
employs, or assists another person to purchase a firearm, or
a person who purchases more than one firearm with the
CAUTION: Firearm laws are subject to frequent change and court interpretation. This summary is not intended as legal advice or
restatement of law. This summary does not include federal or local laws, ordinances or regulations. For any particular situation, a licensed
local attorney must be consulted for an accurate interpretation. YOU MUST ABIDE WITH ALL LAWS: STATE, FEDERAL AND
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.