Virginia Gun Laws
Although Virginia has enacted some pieces of restrictive firearms legislation, the state largely respects its citizens’ right to bear arms. Virginia enforces universal background checks and has some hardware restrictions. The state has some of the most permissive concealed carry laws in the country, and does not require (or issue) permits for the legal carrying of concealed firearms. Virginia is generally more permissive of firearms than many states in the Northeast region.
- Gun Laws at a Glance
- Firearm License Requirements
- Background Checks
- Gun Shows
- Ammunition and Hardware Restrictions
- Prohibited Persons
- Prohibited Places
- Concealed Carry Laws
Virginia Gun Laws at a Glance
|Concealed Carry Premit Required||Yes|
|Open Carry Premitted||Yes|
|Waiting period before purchasing||No|
|Lost and Stolen Firearm Reporting||No|
|Firearms License Required for Purchasing||No|
|Universal Background Check||No|
|Large Capacity Magazine Ban||No|
Firearm License Requirements
No type of license is required to obtain a firearm in Virginia.
Although Virginia does not specifically enforce universal background checks, a background check is required for most firearm purchases. Any person is prohibited from selling a firearm without verifying (from a licensed dealer) that the prospective purchaser has undergone a background check (and has been approved according to this background check). Further, Virginia law prohibits anyone from buying a gun without undergoing a background check. These procedures do not apply to purchases made at gun shows (see section below).
Pursuant to federal laws, all firearms transfers from licensed dealers are subject to background checks.
In Virginia, State Police must be available at gun shows to conduct background checks on any firearms transferees. If the background check is conducted this way when buying from an unlicensed seller, the transferee is exempt from normal background check procedures.
Hardware and Ammunition Restrictions
|50 Caliber Rifles||Not restricted|
|Machine Guns||Permitted with restrictions (see below)|
|Large Capacity Magazines||Not restricted|
|Ammunition||Virginia does not restrict any type of ammunition. However, possessing ammunition is prohibited by any person who has been:
“Assault firearms” in Virginia are subject to some prohibitions. Any person who is not lawfully in the US is prohibited from possessing an assault firearm, and any firearms dealer is prohibited from transferring an assault weapon to such a person. The “the Striker 12, commonly called a ‘streetsweeper,’ or any semi-automatic folding-stock shotgun of like kind with a spring tension drum magazine capable of holding twelve shotgun shells.” is entirely prohibited.
Virginia law defines “assault firearm” as a:
“semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock.”
Any person under 18 is generally prohibited from possessing an assault firearm.
Under Virginia law, a machine gun is “any weapon which shoots or is designed to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”
Virginia allows the possession of a machine gun for any purpose that is not “aggressive or offensive.” A machine is assumed to be possessed for aggressive or offensive purposes if:
- The machine gun is on premises at a business or residence and is not owned or rented by the person possessing the machine gun
- The machine gun is in the possession of someone who has been convicted of a violent crime
- The machine gun has not been registered pursuant to Virginia law
- Empty or loaded shells that may be (or may have been) used with the machine gun are found in the immediate area
Virginia prohibits all of the following:
- Knowing and intentional possession, purchase, or transportation of a firearm by any person acquitted by reason of insanity on a charge of treason, any felony, or certain misdemeanors, unless his or her firearm eligibility has been restored
- Purchase, possession or transportation of a firearm by any person who has been determined to be “legally incompetent,” “mentally incapacitated,” or “incapacitated”
- Purchase, possession or transportation of a firearm by a person who has been involuntarily admitted to a facility for mental health treatment
- Purchase or transportation of a firearm by any person subject to a protective order, or certain other court orders, while the order is in effect, and possession of a firearm by a person subject to a protective order issued after a hearing
- Purchase or transportation of a handgun by any person who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanor drug offenses under Virginia law in the past three years
- Purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by a person subject to an emergency substantial risk order, a substantial risk order, or a similar order issued in another jurisdiction
- Purchase, possession, or transportation of a firearm by a person who is on the Virginia Voluntary Do Not Sell Firearms List
- Knowing and intentional possession or transportation of a firearm by any person: convicted of a felony, adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile 14 years of age or older at the time of the offense of murder, kidnapping, robbery by the threat or presentation of firearms, or rape
- Knowing and intentional possession or transportation of a firearm by any person who is under the age of 29 and was found guilty as a juvenile (14 years of age or older of a delinquent act which would be a felony if committed by an adult
- Knowing and intentional possession or transportation of a firearm by any person who is not a citizen of the U.S. or who is not lawfully present in the United States
|Schools||Firearms are prohibited on school grounds, school buses, and the portion of any public area that is exclusively used for school purposes.||Firearms may be possessed with the permission of school administrators and as part of an educational course at the school.
An unloaded firearm may be in a closed container in a locked vehicle.
Permit holders may have concealed handguns in vehicles while traveling in their vehicle to, from, or on school grounds.
|Vehicles||Prohibited without a concealed carry permit.||A handgun may be carried in a private motor vehicle if the handgun is in a locked, secured container.|
Concealed Carry Laws
|“No Gun” Signs||Not Enforced|
|State Park Carry||Permitted|
Obtaining a Concealed Carry License
Virginia is a ‘shall issue’ state, meaning that any applicant who meets certain qualifications must be issued a concealed carry license.
|However, you are not required to have a concealed carry license to carry a firearm under certain circumstances. The license requirement does not apply to:|
|Requirements for a Concealed Carry License|
|Although Virginia does not specifically state any qualifications for a concealed carry license, the law does indicate that a license shall be issued to any candidate “for whom the criminal history records check does not indicate a disqualification and, after consulting with either the sheriff or police department of the county or city, about which there are no outstanding questions or issues concerning the application.”
These disqualifications include any person who:
Concealed Carry Firearms Training
A concealed weapon permit applicant in Virginia must demonstrate proficiency with a handgun by any of the following:
- A state-approved hunting or firearms course
- Evidence of experience with a firearm
- Proof that the applicant has previously been licensed to carry in Virginia
If a class is taken, the class must be attended in-person, not electronically.
Concealed Carry Location Restrictions
Even with a concealed carry permit, you may not carry a concealed firearm in the following locations:
- Any elementary, middle, or high school, including buildings, buses, and grounds thereof
- Any property or portion of a property open to the public and exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place
- Places of religious worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held
- Anywhere while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
- Any courthouses
- The Capitol Square in Richmond;
- Jails or juvenile detention facilities
- Offices Owned or Occupied by Executive Branch Agencies
- Private property when prohibited by the owner of the property or where posted
- Non-secure areas of airport terminals
- Developed recreational Tennessee Valley Authority lands
- On city property and streets where special events are being held in the city of Alexandria
- The portion of Hog Island Wildlife Management Area bordering on the James River, north of the Surry Nuclear Power Plant (this does not apply while hunting deer or waterfowl in conformity with a special permit issued by the department)
- Buggs Island or upon the water on Gaston Reservoir from High Rock to the John H. Kerr Dam
- Any place where the carrying of firearms is prohibited by federal law or state law or regulation
Disclaimer: The information provided here is not to be construed as legal advice or acted upon as if it is legal advice: it is provided for informational and entertainment purposes only. While we strive to provide accurate, up-to-date content, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or currency of the information. Gun laws can change frequently, especially at the state and local levels. Application of gun laws can be unique to an individual’s situation. We recommend that each individual consult with a competent and qualified legal professional before purchasing, transporting, or using any firearm or firearm-related product.