Virginia protects the right to bear arms under Article I, Section 13 of the state constitution, but this does not mean that everyone may carry a gun, or that you may always carry a gun wherever you like. Virginia requires a concealable carry permit to carry a weapon openly or concealed on (or near) you body or vehicle unless you are in your house, at your place of business, or on your own property. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.)
For more information on permitting laws, see Gun Permit Laws in Virginia.
The following sections explain who may not have a gun, and the circumstances or situations when carrying a gun is illegal.
People Who May Not Carry a Gun in Virginia
The following individuals are prohibited from carrying a weapon in Virginia:
- those younger than 21 years old
- non- residents of Virginia, unless the person is a permit holder from a state with reciprocity with Virginia (see Gun Permit Laws in Virginia for more information on reciprocity)
- non-U.S. citizens (other than lawful permanent residents)
- someone discharged from state custody, commitment in a mental institution, or whose competency or capacity was restored within the last five years
- anyone subject to a restraining or protective order
- someone who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the last five years
- individuals addicted to, or unlawful users or dealers of marijuana or other controlled substances; or who have been found guilty of illegal possession or distribution of these substances within the last three years
- anyone convicted of public drunkenness, or substantially similar laws in other states within the last three years
- individuals dishonorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces
- fugitives from justice
- anyone whom a court finds would be likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others
- people who have been convicted of specified crimes (including but not limited to assault, sexual battery, and stalking), or persons with a charge pending against them for one of these crimes, and
- a person who was convicted of being delinquent based on an offense that, if committed by an adult, would have been a felony
(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308(E).)
Situations or Circumstances Where Carrying a Gun is Illegal
The following rules govern when and where you may not carry a gun in Virginia. You may not carry a firearm:
- unless you are in your house, place of business, or on your own property, you may not carry a firearm without a concealed carry permit. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308)
- into a place of religious worship (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-283)
- into a courthouse (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-283.1)
- into an airport terminal (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-287.01)
- onto school property (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.1)
- in a jail, prison, or detention facility. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 24-13-440), and
- on school premises (including day care and preschool facilities), in law enforcement offices or facilities, in court facilities, at polling places on election days, in churches or other religious sanctuaries, in hospitals or medical facilities. (S.C. Code Ann.§ 23-31-215).
Penalties for Gun Carry Violations
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a handgun in Virginia without a concealed carry license (unless you are in your own home, on your own property, or at your fixed place of business). Penalties for a first offense include a fine of up to $2,500, up to 12 months in jail, or both.
A second offense is a Class 6 felony. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.
A third or subsequent offense is a Class 5 felony, and incurs a fine of up to $2,500, at least one year (and up to five years) in prison, or both.
Getting Legal Help
The penalties for violating gun carry laws are serious, and often include harsh fines and long prison sentences. If you have any questions about whether you are allowed to carry a gun in Virginia, or if you are facing charges for a gun violation, consult a qualified criminal defense lawyer.