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What Do You Need To Know Before Buying A Gun In Virginia?

The Commonwealth of Virginia is typically considered to be gun-friendly when it comes to the laws that govern gun ownership. That being said, however, there are still restrictions on gun ownership in Virginia and there are a few legalities one should consider before purchasing a gun in Virginia.

Open Carry In Virginia

What is open carry? This is the idea that guns may be carried in public openly (as opposed to concealed carry, which is discussed below). Virginia is very receptive towards open carry. It does, though, restrict open carry in the following places or circumstances:

  • General Assembly buildings
  • Lands that are owned or managed by the Department of Inland Game and Fisheries (except where hunting is allowed)
  • Most public colleges and universities
  • Courthouses
  • Jails
  • School grounds
  • Airports
  • Churches
  • Loaded center-fire guns equipped with magazines with more than a 20 round capacity, ability to be fitted with a silencer or equipped with a folding stock
  • Shotguns with more than a 7 round capacity

It must be noted, however, that the final two restrictions above, are only applicable to certain jurisdictions which include Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads and Henrico County.

Concealed Carry

Concealed carry simply means that when you carry a firearm, it is hidden from plain view. You must possess a valid Virginia concealed carry permit in order to legally carry a concealed firearm in Virginia.
The process to receive a permit in Virginia is relatively straightforward. You simply fill out a form SP-248 and file it with the circuit court in which you live and pay a fee. You must demonstrate competence with a firearm before a permit will be issued. There are several ways you can do this:

  • Pass a valid hunter safety course
  • Complete an NRA (or NRA certified) safety or training course
  • Complete any safety or training course by an NRA or state certified trainer
  • Complete a law enforcement based safety or training course
  • Have held a prior Virginia concealed carry permit

The state has 45 days to issue the permit. If they fail to do so, they must send the applicant a copy of the certified application, which actually serves as a temporary permit for 90 days.
Certain people in Virginia, however, are not eligible for a concealed carry permit. They include:

  • A person who has been acquitted of criminal charges by reason of insanity
  • An individual who has been adjudged incompetent or incapacitated
  • A person who has been involuntarily committed (rights may be restored after a certain time has elapsed)
  • Persons who have been convicted of 2 misdemeanors in the last 5 years if one of the convictions was for a Class 1 misdemeanor (the judge has the discretion to deny the permit even if one of the convictions was not for a Class 1 misdemeanor)
  • An individual who is a drug user
  • A convicted felon
  • A person who has been convicted of public drunkenness within the past three years

There are many other classifications of people who cannot obtain a concealed carry permit.
Even when you have a permit, though, there are still places you are not allowed to carry a weapon. Examples where concealed carry is prohibited include restaurants and bars where alcohol is served, federal buildings, courthouses and schools (except in a car while on school grounds.)
Before you purchase a gun, you should make sure you have a basic understanding of these laws. Owning and carrying a firearm is a great responsibility and making a mistake about when and where you can carry your gun can land you in legal jeopardy. It is always best to make sure of the law before you carry when you are not sure of the law.

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