The laws about carrying guns in Virginia are nuanced. While Virginia is an open-carry state, there are exceptions, and you cannot just walk around with any gun wherever you want at any age. You can also get a permit for concealed carry, but that comes with its own set of rules.
Today, we’re tackling Virginia open carry laws, and taking the guesswork out of carrying and transporting guns, open vs. concealed carry, open carry in your car, etc.
Open Carry Rights
Can you carry a gun without a permit? If you are 18 years or older and you are not otherwise forbidden to possess a firearm, you are allowed to carry/transport a gun in plain sight without a permit.
But you might have guessed that the laws aren’t quite that straightforward. There are always exceptions!
As one of the states with open carry laws, Virginia allows you to open carry unless…
- The gun is a semi-automatic rifle or pistol equipped with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition.
- The gun has a silencer on it OR is designed to have a silencer on it.
- The gun is equipped with a folding stock.
- The shotgun holds seven or more rounds in its chamber (even if it is unloaded).
Note that these rules don’t apply if the person carrying the gun is…
- A law-enforcement officer.
- A licensed security guard.
- On-duty military personnel.
- The holder of a valid concealed handgun permit.
- Hunting lawfully.
- Shooting lawfully at an established, legal shooting range.
These rules also do not apply if the property owner has clearly-displayed signs preventing guns on the property or if the city or other local government municipality has laws dictating stricter restrictions.
Concealed Carry Rights
If you are 21 years or older, you can apply for a concealed carry permit. In order to obtain a permit to carry weapons in trunks or under clothing (basically, anywhere it isn’t readily visible), you need the following things:
- The filing fee and an application with your city or county (not the state).
- Background check (which the city or county will run on you).
- Documentation of proof of handgun competency. There are certified safety classes you can take that will provide this.
You can find information here about applying for a concealed carry permit in Harrisonburg or Rockingham County,
Once the permit has been issued, you are allowed to carry a concealed firearm anywhere in Virginia. However, you may not carry them where a private or government property has clearly-displayed signs preventing guns at the establishment—or if you fall under the list of people who are not allowed to carry weapons.
“Shall Issue” Law
Virginia has a “Shall Issue” law, which means that cities and counties are required to issue concealed carry permits unless there is a known legal reason not to do so. This prevents the cities and counties from issuing permits as they see fit and withholding permits from people who are legally eligible for them.
Private Property and Guns
If you own private property, and you have strong feelings against guns being on your property, you are allowed to post signs prohibiting them. This is common in banks, bars, and other places of business, but it applies to any property, including private homes.
If you are a gun owner/user, pay attention to signs which may prohibit guns, ammunition, or components of either. The signs may be in any…
- Building or part of a building that is used for government purposes.
- Public park.
- Recreation or community center.
- Public street/road/alley/sidewalk/etc. that is adjacent to a permitted event.
- Sports arenas.
- Gambling facilities.
- Polling places.
That is certainly not a complete list, and none of those places are mandatory no-gun zones by state law, so keep your eyes open.
“Stand Your Ground” Law
In general in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you are allowed to stand your ground and utilize force, up to and including deadly force with a gun, if someone is attacking you. This falls under self-defense laws.
However, if you provoke the attack, you have to prove that you got as far away as possible and abandoned the original attack before it is legal for you to fight back in self-defense (with or without a gun).
If you have any questions about the Virginia stand your ground law or about self-defense or gun laws in general, don’t hesitate to contact Cook Attorneys today.
Penalties for violating gun laws range from Class 1 Misdemeanor to Class 5 Felony, so gun laws are not something to be taken lightly. If you are ticketed or arrested for illegal gun possession or carry, contact Cook Attorneys, your local Harrisonburg lawyers.
Fill out the form below to request more information about how we can serve you. We look forward to hearing from you!