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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.

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
Firearm Registration No
Large Capacity Magazine Ban No

Firearm License Requirements


No type of license is required to obtain a firearm in Virginia.

Background Checks


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.

Gun Shows


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

Hardware Restrictions
Assault Weapons Restricted
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:
  • 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
  • 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. This only applies if the person is currently under the age of 29.

Assault Weapons

“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.

Machine Guns

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

Prohibited Persons


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

Prohibited Places

Location Restrictions Exceptions
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


Notify Officer No
“No Gun” Signs Not Enforced
In-Vehicle Carry Permitted
Restaurant Carry Permitted
State Park Carry Permitted
While Hunting 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:
  • Any person while in his or her own place of residence
  • Any person while in his or her own place of business
  • Any regularly enrolled member of a target shooting organization who is traveling to or is at an established shooting range
  • Any regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization who is traveling to or is at a weapons exhibition (the weapons must be unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported)
  • Any person carrying such weapons between his or her place of residence and a place of purchase or repair (the weapons must be unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported)
  • Any person engaged in lawful hunting under inclement conditions necessitating temporary protection of his or her firearm
  • Any attorney or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth and Carriers of the United States Postal Service in the discharge of their official duties (or while in transit to or from such duties)
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:

  • Is prohibited from possessing firearms for mental health reasons under federal law
  • Has been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity (unless discharged from custody over five years ago)
  • Has been adjudicated legally incompetent (unless the applicant’s capacity was restored more than five years ago)
  • Has been admitted involuntarily to a mental health facility, ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment, or has agreed to voluntary admission to a mental health facility pursuant to a protection order (Unless, in the case of involuntary admission, the applicant was released more than five years ago)
  • Is subject to a substantial risk order
  • Has been convicted of a felony
  • Has a pending felony charge
  • Is under age 29 and was found guilty as a juvenile of an act which would be a felony if committed by an adult
  • Has been convicted of two (or more) misdemeanors within the last five years
  • Has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging a firearm in a public place, or brandishing a firearm within the last three years (or has a pending charge for any such crime)
  • Has been convicted of stalking (or has a pending charge for any such crime)
  • Is subject to a restraining order or protective order to protect the health and safety of any person;
  • Has received mental health treatment and/or substance abuse treatment in any residential setting within the last five years
  • Is an alien other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent resident in the U.S.;
  • Is a fugitive from justice;
  • Was discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
  • Is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of any controlled substance (or who has been convicted of possession of such a substance within the last three years)
  • Has been convicted of drunk driving or of public drunkenness in any state within the last three years
  • Who is a habitual drunkard
  • Is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others

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.