Virginia Gun Law
The laws governing the legal use, storage and carrying of firearms are constantly changing. Below are the applicable laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia as of March 9, 2015. The below information is designed to be a guide and not the final word. If you have specific questions, please refer to the Virginia State Police Web Site located at vsp.state.va.us Another great resource is the VCDL (Virginia Citizens Defense League), a non-partisan group dedicated to preserving the gun rights of Virginians. They can be located at VCDL.org.
Resident Concealed Handgun Permits
Virginia Resident Concealed Handgun Permits are issued by the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides. Please contact the applicable court for specific instruction on the application process.
Virginia Code Section 18.2-308 - Prohibits the carrying of any pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material; any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack; any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain; any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart; or any weapon of like kind by any person hidden from common observance about his person. Any of the enumerated weapons shall be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth. A weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon's true nature.
A Permit is Not Necessary in the Following Circumstances – Section 18.2-308
Any person while in his own place of abode or the curtilage thereof.
1. Any person while in his own place of business;
2. Any law-enforcement officer, wherever such law-enforcement officer may travel in the Commonwealth;
3. Any regularly enrolled member of a target shooting organization who is at, or going to or from, an established shooting range, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
4. Any regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization who is at, or going to or from, a bona fide weapons exhibition, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
5. Any person carrying such weapons between his place of abode and a place of purchase or repair, provided the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
6. Any person actually engaged in lawful hunting, as authorized by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, under inclement weather conditions necessitating temporary protection of his firearm from those conditions. Possession of a handgun while engaged in lawful hunting shall not be construed as hunting with a handgun if the person hunting is carrying a valid concealed handgun permit;
7. Any retiree described in paragraph B 7 of Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.
8. For purposes of applying the reciprocity provisions of subsection P, any person granted the privilege to carry a concealed handgun pursuant to this subdivision, while carrying the proof of consultation and favorable review required, shall be deemed to have been issued a concealed handgun permit.
9. Any attorney for the Commonwealth or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth, wherever such attorney may travel in the Commonwealth.
10. Any person who may lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel.
Application for a Concealed Handgun Permit – Section 18.2-308.02
Any person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he or she resides, or if he is a member of the United States armed forces, the county or city in which he is domiciled, for a five-year permit to carry a concealed handgun. There is no requirement as to the length of time an applicant for a Concealed Handgun Permit must have been a resident or domiciliary of the county or city where he or she resides.
It is suggested that the applicant check with the Circuit Court where they reside for any local procedures. Questions specific to completion of the application, residency, or acceptable proof of handgun competency should be directed to the court.
To apply for your permit, download the Virginia Application for Concealed Handgun Permit, Form SP-248.
Documentation of Proof of Handgun Competency - Section 18.2-308.02
The court shall require proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun and the applicant may demonstrate such competence by one of the following, but no applicant shall be required to submit to any additional demonstration of competence:
1. Completing any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a similar agency of another state;
2. Completing any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;
3. Completing any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, junior college, college, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services;
4. Completing any law-enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement;
5. Presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competition or current military service or proof of an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services;
6. Obtaining or previously having held a license to carry a firearm in this Commonwealth or a locality thereof, unless such license has been revoked for cause;
7. Completing any firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or on-line course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor;
8. Completing any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry a firearm in the course of normal police duties; or
9. Completing any other firearms training which the court deems adequate.
A photocopy of a certificate of completion of any of the courses or classes; an affidavit from the instructor, school, club, organization, or group that conducted or taught such course or class attesting to the completion of the course or class by the applicant; or a copy of any document which shows completion of the course or class or evidences participation in firearms competition shall constitute evidence of qualification under this subsection.
No applicant shall be required to submit to any additional demonstration of competence, nor shall any proof of demonstrated competence expire.
Fees for Concealed Handgun Permits – Section 18.2-308.03
The court shall charge a fee of $10.00 for the processing of an application or issuing of a permit. Local law enforcement agencies may charge a fee not to exceed $35.00 to cover the cost of conducting an investigation pursuant to this Code section. The State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $5.00 to cover the cost associated with processing the application. The total amount of the charges may not exceed $50.00, and payment may be made by any method accepted by the court.
No fee shall be charged for the issuance of a permit to a retiree described in paragraph B of Section 18.2-308.03.
The court shall issue the permit within 45 days of receipt of the completed application unless it appears that the applicant is disqualified.
The person issued a permit or in possession of a de facto permit must have the permit on his person at all times during which he is carrying a concealed handgun and must display the permit and a photo-identification issued by a government agency of the Commonwealth or by the United States Department of Defense or United States State Department upon demand by a law enforcement officer.
If Your Application is Not Complete within 45 Days – Section 18.2-308.05
If the court has not issued the permit or determined that the applicant is disqualified within 45 days of the date of receipt noted on the application, the clerk shall certify on the application that the 45-day period has expired, and send a copy of the certified application to the applicant. The certified application shall serve as a de facto permit, which shall expire 90 days after issuance, and shall be recognized as a valid concealed handgun permit when presented with a valid government-issued photo identification until the court issues a five-year permit or finds the applicant to be disqualified. If the applicant is found to be disqualified after the de facto permit is issued, the applicant shall surrender the de facto permit to the court and the disqualification shall be deemed a denial of the permit and a revocation of the de facto permit. If the applicant is later found by the court to be disqualified after a five-year permit has been issued, the permit shall be revoked.
Permit Renewal – Section 18.2-308.010
Persons who previously have held a Virginia resident permit shall be issued, upon application, a new five-year permit unless there is good cause shown for refusing to reissue a permit. The same fees and time constraints apply in the instance of renewal. Persons who previously have been issued a concealed handgun permit are not required to appear in person to apply for a new five-year permit; the application for the new permit may be submitted via the United States mail. The circuit court that receives the application shall promptly notify the applicant if the application is incomplete or if the fee submitted is incorrect.
If the new five-year permit is issued while an existing permit remains valid, the new five-year permit shall become effective upon the expiration date of the existing permit, provided that the application is received by the court at least 90 days but no more than 180 days prior to the expiration of the existing permit.
If a permit holder is a member of the Virginia National Guard, Armed Forces of the United States, or the Armed Forces reserves of the United States, and his five-year permit expires during an active-duty military deployment outside of the permittee's county or city of residence, such permit shall remain valid for 90 days after the end date of the deployment. In order to establish proof of continued validity of the permit, such a permittee shall carry with him and display, upon request of a law-enforcement officer, a copy of the permittee's deployment orders or other documentation from the permittee's commanding officer that order the permittee to travel outside of his county or city of residence and that indicate the start and end date of such deployment.
If Your Application is Denied – Section 18.2-308.08
Any order denying issuance of the permit shall state the basis for the denial of the permit and the applicant's right to and the requirements for perfecting an appeal of such order.
Upon denial of the application, the clerk shall provide the person with notice, in writing, of his right to an ore tenus hearing. Upon request of the applicant made within 21 days, the court shall place the matter on the docket for an ore tenus hearing. The applicant may be represented by counsel, but counsel shall not be appointed, and the rules of evidence shall apply. The final order of the court shall include the court's findings of fact and conclusions of law.
Any person denied a permit to carry a concealed handgun may present a petition for review to the Court of Appeals. The petition for review shall be filed within 60-days of the expiration of the time for requesting an ore tenus hearing pursuant to subsection C of Section 18.2-308.08 or if an ore tenus hearing is requested, within sixty days of the entry of the final order of the circuit court following the hearing. The petition shall be accompanied by a copy of the original papers filed in the circuit court, including a copy of the order of the circuit court denying the permit. Subject to the provisions of Section 17.1-410 B, the decision of the Court of Appeals or judge shall be final. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the decision to deny the permit is reversed upon appeal, taxable costs incurred by the person shall be paid by the Commonwealth.
Persons Not Qualified to Obtain a Permit – Section 18.2-308.09
1. An individual who is ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:1, 18.2-308.1:2 or Section 18.2-308.1:3 or the substantially similar law of any other state or of the United States.
2. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:1 and who was discharged from the custody of the Commissioner pursuant to Section 19.2-182.7 less than five years before the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
3. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:2 and whose competency or capacity was restored pursuant to former Section 37.1-134.1 or Section 37.2-1012 less than five years before the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
4. An individual who was ineligible to possess a firearm under Section 18.2-308.1:3 and who was released from commitment less than five years before the date of this application for a concealed handgun permit.
5. An individual who is subject to a restraining order, or to a protective order and prohibited by Section 18.2-308.1:4 from purchasing or transporting a firearm.
6. An individual who is prohibited by Section 18.2-308.2 from possessing or transporting a firearm, except that a permit may be obtained in accordance with subsection C of that section.
7. An individual who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five-year period immediately preceding the application, if one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor, but the judge shall have the discretion to deny a permit for two or more misdemeanors that are not Class 1. Traffic infractions or reckless driving shall not be considered for purposes of this disqualification.
8. An individual who is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana or any controlled substance.
9. An individual who has been convicted of a violation of Section 18.2-266 or a substantially similar local ordinance, or of public drunkenness, or of a substantially similar offense under the laws of any other state, the District of Columbia, the United States, or its territories within the three-year period immediately preceding the application, or who is a habitual drunkard as determined pursuant to Section 4.1-33.
10. An alien other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States.
11. An individual who has been discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States under dishonorable conditions.
12. An individual who is a fugitive from justice.
13. An individual who the court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, based on specific acts by the applicant, is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth may submit to the court a sworn written statement indicating that, in the opinion of such sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth, based upon a disqualifying conviction or upon the specific acts set forth in the statement, the applicant is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others. The statement of the sheriff, chief of police, or the attorney for the Commonwealth shall be based upon personal knowledge of such individual or of a deputy sheriff, police officer, or assistant attorney for the Commonwealth of the specific acts, or upon a written statement made under oath before a notary public of a competent person having personal knowledge of the specific acts.
14. An individual who has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm in violation of Section 18.2-280 or Section 18.2-286.1 or brandishing of a firearm in violation of Section 18.2-282 within the three-year period immediately preceding the application.
15. An individual who has been convicted of stalking.
16. An individual whose previous convictions or adjudications of delinquency were based on an offense which would have been at the time of conviction a felony if committed by an adult under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, the United States or its territories. For purposes of this disqualifier, only convictions occurring within sixteen years following the later of the date of (i) the conviction or adjudication or (ii) release from any incarceration imposed upon such conviction or adjudication shall be deemed to be "previous convictions."
17. An individual who has a felony charge pending or a charge pending for an offense listed in 14 or 15.
18. An individual who has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within five years prior to the date of his application for a concealed handgun permit.
19. An individual not otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, who, within the three-year period immediately preceding the application for the permit, was found guilty of any criminal offense set forth in Article 1 (Section 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of this title or of a criminal offense of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance, under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories.
20. An individual, not otherwise ineligible pursuant to this section, with respect to whom, within the three-year period immediately preceding the application, upon a charge of any criminal offense set forth in Article 1 (Section 18.2-247 et seq.) of Chapter 7 of this title or upon a charge of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana or any controlled substance under the laws of any state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories, the trial court found that the facts of the case were sufficient for a finding of guilt and disposed of the case pursuant to Section 18.2-251 or the substantially similar law of any other state, the District of Columbia, or the United States or its territories.
Change of Address – Section 18.2-308.011
The clerk of a circuit court that issued a valid concealed handgun permit shall, upon presentation of the valid permit and proof of a new address of residence by the permit holder, issue a replacement permit specifying the permit holder's new address. The total amount assessed for processing a replacement permit due to a change of address shall not exceed $10, with such fees to be paid in one sum to the person who accepts the information for the replacement permit.
Revocation, Suspension, or Surrender of Permit – Section 18.2-308.013
Any person who has a felony charge pending or a charge pending for an offense that would be a disqualification for a permit who holds a concealed handgun permit may have such permit suspended by the court before which the charge is pending.
Any person convicted of an offense that would disqualify that person from obtaining a permit or who makes a false statement in an application shall forfeit his permit to the court, or shall be subject to suspension or revocation of the permit.
Any person with a concealed handgun permit shall be prohibited from carrying any concealed firearm, and shall surrender his or her permit to the court entering the order for the duration of any protective order pursuant to Section 18.2-308.1:4.
Prohibited Conduct and Where Unlawful to Carry - Section 18.2-308.012
Any person permitted to carry a concealed handgun who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while carrying such handgun in a public place is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Conviction of any of the following offenses shall be prima facie evidence, subject to rebuttal, that the person is "under the influence" for purposes of this section: manslaughter in violation of Section 18.2-36.1, maiming in violation of Section 18.2-51.4, driving while intoxicated in violation of Section 18.2-266, public intoxication in violation of Section 18.2-388, or driving while intoxicated in violation of Section 46.2-341.24.
No person who carries a concealed handgun onto the premises of any restaurant or club as defined in Section 4.1-100 for which a license to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption has been granted by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board under Title 4.1 of the Code of Virginia; may consume an alcoholic beverage while on the premises. A person who carries a concealed handgun onto the premises of such a restaurant or club and consumes alcoholic beverages is guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. However, nothing in this subsection shall apply to a federal, state, or local law-enforcement officer.
Section 18.2-308.01: Private property when prohibited by the owner of the property, or where posted as prohibited.
Section18.2-283: To a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place, without good and sufficient reason.
Section18.2-308.1: School property. Exemptions to this statute include a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.
Section18.2-287.01: Carrying weapon in air carrier airport terminal.