Your Virginia Legal Team

Virginia Gun Laws

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a large number of laws meant to balance the interests of protecting citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms and the public interest in preventing gun violence. The Virginia Code largely handles gun-related offenses in Section 18.2-279 through Section 18.2-311, under Title 18.2 (Criminal Offenses Generally), Chapter 7 (Crimes Involving Health and Safety). There are provisions that cover shooting guns unlawfully (e.g., Section 18.2-279), reckless handling of weapons (e.g., Section 18.2-282), carrying guns in prohibited areas (e.g., airports, courthouses, etc.), prohibited or specially regulated weapons and ammunition (e.g., machine guns and sawed-off shotguns), concealed weapons and concealed carry permits (e.g., Section 18.2-308), people prohibited from owning guns (e.g., unlawful residents, felons), and provisions covering guns in drug-related crimes (e.g., Section 18.2-308.4). Almost every one of these sections does not apply to law enforcement officers while performing their official duties, nor to individuals acting in excusable and justifiable self-defense. For more information on how a Virginia gun lawyer can help, please visit this page.

Firing Guns Unlawfully (Sections 18.2-279; 18.2-280; 18.2-285; 18.2-286; 18.2-286.1)

There are a number of laws that specify under what circumstances shooting guns is unlawful. Generally, it is unlawful to discharge a firearm in public spaces and inside buildings, with specific provisions for situations where individuals discharge weapons across roads or from a vehicle. However, laws that apply to prohibited or categorically regulated weapons are covered in the Prohibited or Categorically Regulated Weapons section below.

Discharging Weapon Inside or At a Building (Section 18.2-279)

An individual is guilty of this felony if (1) the individual discharges a firearm inside or at a building (2) that is occupied by at least one person (3) so as to endanger the life and health of the person(s) inside. Section 18.2-279. Yet, the circumstances surrounding the discharge of the weapon and where the weapon was discharged determine the penalty for the offense. Section 18.2-279.

If an individual discharged a firearm maliciously, or, with the intent to do harm, then the offense is a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-279. In such a case, the individual faces the penalties of a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d). Moreover, if the individual’s malicious shooting causes the death of any person, the individual is guilty of murder in the second degree. If, on the other hand, the malicious shooting was part of a deliberate and premeditated homicide, then the individual is guilty of murder in the first degree, or if other specific conditions are met, capital murder (see Homicide page). Section 18.2-279.

If an individual discharges a firearm without malice, or, the intent to harm another, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-279. In such a case, the individual faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f). In the unfortunate case that someone dies as a result of the unlawful, non-malicious shooting, the individual is guilty of involuntary manslaughter– a Class 5 felony (again, see Homicide page). Sections 18.2-279; 18.2-36. In the latter case of involuntary manslaughter, the individual faces a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(e).

Lastly, if an individual discharges a firearm within a school building or at a school building, whether occupied by another person or not, then the individual is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-279. The individual would then face a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d).

Willfully Discharging Weapon in Public Spaces (Section 18.2-280)

An individual is guilty of this crime if the individual (1) intentionally (2) discharges a firearm (2) in a public place. Section 18.2-280(A). Public places include any street within a city or town, any area open to public gatherings, or any place of public business. Section 18.2-280(A). The penalties of this crime depend on whether (i) a person was injured as a result of the shooting, and (ii) whether the shooting took place on any school property or on public property within 1,000 feet of school property. Section 18.2-280(B)-(C).

If an individual intentionally discharged a weapon (or intentionally caused a weapon to be discharged) and someone was injured as a result, then in the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-280(A). In such a case, the individual would face penalties that include a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

If an individual intentionally discharged a weapon (or intentionally caused a weapon to be discharged) but the shooting does not cause bodily injury to any person, then the individual is only guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-280(A). In such a case, the individual would face penalties that include up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

If an individual intentionally discharges a weapon (or causes a weapon to be discharged) on any elementary, middle, or high school’s property, or on public property within 1,000 feet of such a school’s property, then the individual is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-280(B)-(C). There are two exceptions to these provisions, apart from law enforcement officers performing their duties or other persons specifically authorized by law. First, it is permissible to discharge a weapon on school property if the individual is doing so as part of a program sponsored by the school or with the permission of the school. Section 18.2-280(B). Second, it is permissible to discharge a weapon on public property within 1,000 feet of a school if, and only if, the individual is engaged in lawful hunting. Section 18.2-280(C).

Hunting with Firearms while Under Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (Section 18.2-285)

Much like the laws about driving under the influence of alcohol and/or any drug(s), Virginia law states that it is illegal to hunt with firearms while under the influence. Any individual who is hunting with a firearm while (i) under the influence of alcohol, (ii) under the influence of any drug(s) to the extent that it impairs the individual’s ability to hunt with a firearm safely, or (iii) any combination of alcohol and drugs that impairs the individual’s ability to hunt safely, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-285. An individual guilty of hunting while under the influence faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Discharging a Weapon In or Across a Road (Section 18.2-286)

This provision does not apply to authorized firing ranges. Any individual who discharges a firearm in a road, or across a road, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-286. Thus, if an individual is guilty of discharging a weapon in or across a road, the individual will face a fine of $250 for each offense. Section 18.2-11(d).

Discharging a Firearm from a Vehicle (Section 18.2-286.1)

An individual is guilty of this crime if the individual (1) intentionally (2) discharges a firearm (3) while in a motor vehicle (4) and endangers the health and life of another person or causes a person to be reasonably fearful of injury or death. Section 18.2-261.1. Discharging a firearm from a vehicle is a Class 5 felony, so any individual guilty of this crime faces a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-10(e).

Reckless Handling/Guns in Public (Sections 18.2-56.1; 18.2-56.2; 18.2-282)

Reckless Handling of Firearms (Section 18.2-56.1)

Any individual who (1) recklessly handles a firearm and thus (2) puts another person’s health or person’s property in danger is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-56.1(A). Thus, an individual guilty of recklessly handling a firearm faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Recklessly Leaving Guns Accessible to Children (Section 18.2-56.2)

Any individual who (1) recklessly (2) leaves a loaded, unsecured firearm (3) where it can be accessed (4) by a child less than 14 years old, is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-56.2(A). Thus, the individual would face a $500 fine. Section 18.2-11(c).

An individual can also violate this section by (1) knowingly (2) allowing a child less than 12 years old (3) to use a firearm without supervision. Section 18.2-56.2(B). Supervision is defined as supervision by either the child’s parent, guardian, or a person over 21 years old who has been given permission by the child’s parent or guardian. Section 18.2-56.2(B). If an individual violates this part of the provision, then the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-56.2(B). The individual would, therefore, face up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Pointing, Holding, or Brandishing Gun in Public (Section 18.2-282)

An individual is guilty of this crime if the individual (1) points, holds, or brandishes (2) a firearm, an air or gas operated weapon, or any object that looks similar, (3) in a public place (4) in such a way that would reasonably cause another person to be afraid of being shot or injured. Section 18.2-282(A). An individual guilty of pointing, holding, or brandishing a gun in public is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor unless the individual is on any elementary, middle, or high school’s property or within 1,000 feet of such a school’s property, in which case the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-282(A).

If an individual is guilty of this crime but the offense did not occur at or within 1,000 feet of a school, then the individual faces up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-11(a). If the individual violated this section on school property or within 1,000 feet of school property, then the individual faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Guns, Prohibited Places (Sections 18.2-283; 18.2-283.1; 18.2-287.01; 18.2-308.1; 18.2-287.4)

Places of Religious Worship During Religious Meetings (Section 18.2-283)

An individual violates this section if the individual carries a firearm into a place of religious worship while there is a religious meeting of some sort taking place without good and sufficient reason. Section 18.2-283. If an individual violates this section then the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor and faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Courthouses (Section 18.2-283.1)

An individual violates this section if the individual (1) possesses or transports a firearm, a gun part, or ammunition (2) into a courthouse in Virginia. Section 18.2-283.1. If an individual violates this section, then the individual’s weapon is subject to confiscation, and the individual is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor– facing up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-283.1; 18.2-11(a).

Airport Terminals (Section 18.2-287.01)

An individual violates this section and commits a Class 1 misdemeanor if the individual (1) possesses or transports a firearm, a gun part, or ammunition (2) into an airport terminal in Virginia. Section 18.2-287.01. Any individual who is guilty of carrying a firearm into an airport terminal faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a). Moreover, the individual’s firearm, gun part, or ammunition will be subject to permanent confiscation and will be disposed of by the authorities. Section 18.2-287.01.

However, this section does not apply to individuals who, as permitted by law, are transporting a lawful firearm in order to (i) present the weapon to a US Customs agent, (ii) to check the weapon with the individual’s luggage, or (iii) to retrieve the firearm from the airport’s baggage claim area. Section 18.2-287.01. Even under these circumstances, the individual must be transporting the weapon in the airport as required by law: unloaded and secured.

Carrying Loaded Guns in Public Places (Section 18.2-287.4)

In the state of Virginia, it is legal to carry certain weapons openly in public places in many areas of the state. An individual violates Section 18.2-287.4 if the individual carries a loaded weapon in public if it is one of the following:

  • A semi-automatic rifle equipped with a magazine that holds more than 20 rounds of ammunition, is designed to be equipped with a silencer, or is designed to be equipped with a folding stock, or;
  • A semi-automatic pistol equipped with a magazine that holds more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed to be equipped with a silencer, or;
  • A shotgun with a magazine that holds more than 7 rounds of ammunition.

The weapon is considered to be in public if it is on the individual’s person and the individual is on any public:

  • Street
  • Road
  • Alley
  • Sidewalk
  • Right-of-way
  • Park
  • Other place open to the public

Lastly, this provision only applies to public areas in the following areas:

  • City of Alexandria
  • City of Chesapeake
  • City of Fairfax
  • City of Falls Church
  • City of Newport News
  • City of Norfolk
  • City of Richmond
  • City of Virginia Beach
  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • Henrico County
  • Loudoun County
  • Prince William County

Prohibited or Categorically Regulated Guns, Devices, and Ammunition

Striker 12 shotguns, plastic guns, and Teflon-coated ammunition are all prohibited in the state of Virginia. However, under the Uniform Machine Gun Act and the Sawed-Off Shotgun & Sawed-Off Rifle Act, automatic weapons and “sawed-off” weapons are categorically regulated at a heightened level that is accompanied by strict regulation as to what citizens can do with these two kinds of weapons and harsh penalties for individuals violating the various laws surrounding them. In addition, many of the laws surrounding these prohibited or categorically-regulated weapons use the term “crime of violence,” which is defined (e.g., Sections 18.2-288; 18.2-299) to include any of the following crimes or attempts to commit them:

  • Murder
  • Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Mayhem (disabling the use of a body part, usually a limb)
  • Assault with intent to maim (similar to mayhem), disable, disfigure, or kill
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Housebreaking
  • Breaking and entering
  • Larceny

Uniform Machine Gun Act (Sections 18.2-288 through 18.2-298)

A “machine gun” is defined in Section 18.2-288(1) as any weapon capable of automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger.

If an individual (1) uses or possesses a machine gun (2) in a crime of violence or attempted crime of violence, the individual is guilty of a Class 2 felony. Section 18.2-289. An individual guilty of this crime would face 20 years to life in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(b).

If an individual (1) illegally possesses or uses an automatic weapon (2) for an offensive or aggressive purpose, the individual is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-290. An individual guilty of this crime faces a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison, and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d). Under Section 18.2-291, possessing or using a machine gun for an “offensive or aggressive purpose” is defined as any time one of the following is true:

(1)   If the machine gun is anywhere except the home or place of business of the person who is in possession of the machine gun,

(2)   If an individual who has been convicted of a crime of violence (in any U.S. jurisdiction) is in possession of or used the machine gun,

(3)   If the machine gun has not been registered (required in Section 18.2-295),

(4)   If the machine gun is found in the immediate vicinity of either empty machine gun shells that have been used, or loaded machine gun shells that can be used.

Furthermore, the law does not merely target the specific individual who uses or possesses the machine gun, but rather presumes that every single person in the room, boat, or vehicle where the machine is found has used or possesses the machine gun. Section 18.2-292. This means that if a machine gun is found for a presumed aggressive or offensive purpose (as described above), everyone in the room, boat, or vehicle where the weapon was found faces a Class 4 felony charge.

Machine guns (automatic weapons) must be registered with the Virginia State Police Department within 24 hours of acquisition, or in the case where a semi-automatic weapon has been modified into an automatic weapon, within 24 hours of the modification. Section 18.2-295. For the machine gun to be registered, it must fall under one of the acceptable reasons for possessing a machine gun, listed in Section 18.2-293.1 as follows:

  • Possession and/or use for scientific purposes, or;
  • Possession of the automatic weapon in a state where the weapon is not functional, but merely kept as a keepsake, curiosity, or ornament, or;
  • Possession for purposes which are manifestly not aggressive or offensive (such as testing ammunition).

Sawed-Off Shotgun & Sawed-Off Rifle Act (Section 18.2-299 through 18.2-307)

Much like the laws surrounding machine guns, the Sawed-Off Shotgun & Sawed-Off Rifle Act strictly regulates under what circumstances it is legal to own such a weapon, and sets forth harsh penalties for individuals who do not abide by those laws. A “sawed-off shotgun” is defined in  Section 18.2-299 as any shotgun-like weapon (generally, one that uses self-contained cartridges from which numerous ball shot pellets or a slug can be fired) which is a .225 caliber or higher, with a barrel length under 18 inches (for smooth bore weapons) or under 16 inches (for rifled weapons). A “sawed-off rifle” is defined in Section 18.2-299 as a shoulder weapon rifle of any caliber with a barrel (or barrels) under 16 inches in length, or with a total length under 26 inches.

If an individual (1) while committing or attempting to commit a crime of violence (2) possesses or uses a sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle, then the individual is guilty of a Class 2 felony. Section 18.2-300(A). The individual would then be facing a felony conviction with 20 years to life in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(b).

Like with machine guns, possession of a sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle is restricted to (1) scientific purposes, or (2) when the weapon is not working and is kept merely as a curiosity or keepsake. Section 18.2-303.1. Possession or use of these weapons is also permissible when it is related to law enforcement, National Guard, or military purposes (i.e., manufacturing, training, etc.). Section 18.2-303.

However, if an individual (1) possesses or uses a sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle (2) for any purpose other than the lawful ones described above, then the individual is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Section 18.2-300(B). An individual guilty of possessing or using a sawed-off shotgun or sawed-off rifle faces a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d).

Plastic Guns (Section 18.2-308.5)

It is a Class 5 felony for any individual to (1) sell, manufacture, import, give, or possess (2) plastic guns. Section 18.2-308.5. A plastic gun is a firearm that contains less than 3.7 ounces of electromagnetically detectable metal in a part of the gun so that, when inspected under an x-ray machine like those traditionally used at airports, the image generated by the machine does not accurately depict the shape of the firearm. Section 18.2-308.5. An individual guilty of the manufacture, import, sale, transfer, or possession of a plastic gun faces a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Spring Guns (Section 18.2-281)

It is a Class 6 felony for any individual to (1) set up a firearm or weapon that (2) discharges when a person comes into contact with a wire, string, spring, or other device designed specifically to discharge the firearm remotely. Section 18.2-281. An individual who is guilty of setting a spring gun or other deadly weapon faces the penalties of a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Wearing Body Armor While Committing a Crime (Section 18.2-287.2)

It is a Class 4 felony for any individual to (1) commit a crime of violence (see Section 18.2-288 or list above) or a drug-related felony while (3) possessing a firearm or knife and (4) wearing body armor designed to protect the wearer from bullets. Section 18.2-287.2. Thus, any individual guilty of wearing body armor while committing a crime would face a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000. Section 18.2-10(d).

Striker 12‘s (or “Street Sweepers”) (Section 18.2-308.8)

It is against the law for any individual to (1) possess, sell, transfer, or import (2) Striker 12 shotguns (commonly known as “Street Sweepers”) or any similar shotgun. Section 18.2-308.8. Similar shotguns include any semi-automatic shotgun with a folding stock and a spring tension drum magazine that can hold twelve shotgun shells. Section 18.308.8. This crime is a Class 6 felony, so an individual guilty of importation, sale, possession, or transfer of Striker 12’s faces one to five years in prison, OR, at the discretion of a jury or the court trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Restricted Ammunition (Section 18.2-308.3)

An individual is guilty of this Class 5 felony if the individual (1) knowingly, (2) while committing a crime or attempting to commit a crime, (3) uses ammunition that is:

  • Containing or coated with polytetrafluorothylene (PTFE or commonly known as “Teflon”)
  • “KTW” bullets or “French Arcanes” (other names for Teflon-coated bullets)
  • Any ammunition with bullets coated in plastic substance that is not lead or a lead alloy
  • Any jacketed bullets with cores that are not lead or lead alloys
  • Any ammunition where the bullet is entirely comprised of a metal or metal alloy that is not lead.

If an individual is guilty of use or attempted use of restricted ammunition in commission or attempted commission of a crime, then the individual faces one to 10 years in prison, OR, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(e).

Concealed Weapons & Permits (Sections 18.2-308; 18.2-308.01; 18.2-308.02; 18.2-308.06)

Carrying Concealed Weapons (without a permit) (Section 18.2-308)

If an unauthorized individual (1) carries about the individual’s person (2) but hidden or observable yet appearing in a way that disguises its true nature, (3) a firearm (or other weapon), then that individual is guilty of carrying a concealed weapon– a Class 1 misdemeanor. Section 18.2-308. The first violation of this offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, where the guilty individual faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a). The second violation of this section constitutes a Class 6 felony, where the guilty individual faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-308; 18.2-10(f). The third violation of this section constitutes a Class 5 felony, where the guilty individual would face a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-308; 18.2-10(e).

This section covers many different types of weapons, but primarily focuses on firearms. Furthermore, this section only applies to unauthorized individuals, because it is possible to have a valid concealed handgun permit and there are a number of exceptions where this section does not apply, such as:

  • To any person in the person’s home or the person’s place of business;
  • To any person with a valid concealed handgun permit;
  • To any person transporting a weapon to or from home/business and the place where the person purchased or had repairs done to the weapon– if the weapon is unloaded and secured;
  • To any person who is hunting when the weather causes the person to conceal the weapon in order to protect the weapon from the weather conditions;
  • To any person going to or from a training location while the gun is secured and unloaded;
  • Law enforcement officers;
  • Any person part of a weapons collecting organization who is at or going to or from a weapons exhibition– if the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped;
  • Retired law enforcement officers, campus police officers, and other retired officers provided they have a favorable review of the need to carry a concealed handgun issued by the chief law enforcement officer of the agency from which the officer retired; or
  • Any attorney or assistant attorney working for the Commonwealth (Virginia).

Individuals with concealed carry permits from other jurisdictions that meet the reciprocity provisions of Section 18.2-308.014.

For statutory information on how to obtain a permit for a concealed handgun, look at the section on Permits for Carrying Concealed Weapons (Section 18.2-308.01), and information for concealed carry permits can be found in the section on Nonresident Concealed Carry Permits (Section 18.2-308.06).

For better and more specific information, look to the Virginia State Police website page on concealed carry permits here.

People Prohibited from Having Guns (Sections 18.2-308.1; 18.2-308.2; 18.2-308.7)

There are certain groups of people who are prohibited from possessing, transporting, using, or buying firearms.

Individuals Acquitted of Crimes because of Reason of Insanity (Section 18.2-308.1:1)

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for an individual, who has been (1) acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity and (2) committed to the custody of the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner, to (3) intentionally (4) possess, purchase, or transport any firearm. Section 18.2-308.1:1(A). The crimes include any drug-related crime, any felony, any gun-related Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor, and treason. Section 18.2-308.1:1(A). An individual guilty of possession, purchase, or transportation of a firearm under this section faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

This section does not apply if the individual has been released from custody, has applied to have the individual’s gun rights restored, and has been deemed fit for restoration of the individual’s gun rights. Section 18.2-308.1:1(B).

Individuals Deemed Legally Incompetent; Mentally Incapacitated (Section 18.2-308.1:2)

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any individual, who has been (1) deemed legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated to (2) transport, possess, or purchase any firearm. Section 18.2-308.1:2(A). An individual who violates this section faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

This section does not apply to individuals who have been deemed to have had their competency or capacity restored, and who have applied for and been granted a restoration of their gun rights. Section 18.2-308.1:2(B).

Individuals Involuntarily Committed to Mental Health Facility (Section 18.2-308.1:3)

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for an individual, who (1) was involuntarily admitted to a facility or mandatory outpatient treatment or who was voluntarily admitted after being subject to a temporary detention order, to (2) transport, possess, or purchase any firearm. Section 18.2-308.1:3(A). An individual guilty of violating this section faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

This section does not apply to individuals who have been released from admission to the facility or treatment, applied for the restoration of their gun rights, and been granted the restoration of their gun rights. Section 18.2-308.1:3(B).

Individuals Subject to Protective Orders (Section 18.2-308.1:4)

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any individual (1) who is subject to a protective order, preliminary protective order, or similar order issued by another jurisdiction, to (2) purchase or transport firearms (3) as long as the order is in effect. Section 18.2-308.1:4. An individual who violates this section faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Individuals Convicted of Two Drug-related Misdemeanors (Section 18.2-308.1:5)

It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for any individual who (1) has been convicted of two misdemeanor charges of drug-possession or synthetic cannabinoid manufacture, sale, possession, (2) within a 3 year period to (3) transport or purchase a firearm (4) until five years after the most recent conviction if the individual has not been convicted of any offense during the five-year period. Section 18.2-308.1:5. Any individual who violates this section faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-11(a).

Individuals Convicted of a Felony (Section 18.2-308.2)

It is illegal for an individual who (1) has been convicted of a felony, or committed a felony as a minor and deemed a juvenile delinquent, to (2) intentionally (3) possess or transport a firearm or ammunition. Section 18.2-308.2(A). Violating this section constitutes a Class 6 felony with an enhanced penalty. Section 18.2-308.2(A). If the individual violates this section but has not been convicted of a violent felony, then the individual faces two to five years in prison, because of an enhanced penalty of a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Sections 18.2-308.2(A); 18.2-10(f). If the individual violates this section and has been convicted of a violent felony then the individual faces five years in prison, because of an enhanced penalty of a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Sections 18.2-308.2(A); 18.2-10(f).

Unlawful Residents, Illegal Immigrants, & Non-US Citizens (Section 18.2-308.2:01)

For the purposes of this section, an “assault firearm” is defined as any semi-automatic rifle or pistol that has a magazine that holds more than 20 rounds of ammunition, is designed to be equipped with a silencer, or is equipped with a folding stock. Section 18.2-308.2:01(C).

It is a Class 6 felony for an individual (1) who is not a US citizen or who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence to (2) intentionally (3) transport, purchase, or possess an assault firearm. Section 18.2-308.2:01(A). Furthermore, it is a Class 6 felony for an individual (1) who is not a U.S. citizen and who is not lawfully present in the U.S. (2) to intentionally (3) possess or transport any firearm. Section 18.2-308.2:01(B). Any individual who violates this section faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury trying the case, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Drugs & Guns (Section 18.2-308.4)

Virginia has laws designed to punish conduct at the intersection between drug-related offenses and violent offenses. One major component is laws that deter people from possessing firearms while committing drug-related offenses by making the possession of firearms during drug-related offenses a felony separate and distinct from the primary drug-related offense. Section 18.2-308.4. This means that the penalties from these violations are to be served consecutively with the penalties from the primary offense. Section 18.2-308.4. This section has three levels of varying penalties depending on whether the firearm possessed by the accused is merely owned by the accused, is present on the accused’s person, or is used or displayed as part of the drug-related offense. Section 18.2-308.4. For more detail on drug related offenses see the Drug page here.

If an individual is (1) illegally (2) carrying a Schedule I or II controlled substance and (3) simultaneously (4) intentionally (5) possesses a firearm, then the individual is guilty of possession of firearms while in possession of certain substances– a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-308.4(A). In such a case, the individual faces one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the a jury or a court without a jury trying the case, up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

If an individual is (1) illegally (2) in possession of a Schedule I or II controlled substance and (3) simultaneously (4) intentionally (5) possesses a firearm (6) on or about the individual’s person, then the individual is also guilty of this Class 6 felony with an enhanced penalty. Section 18.2-308.4(B). Thus, the individual faces a felony conviction with two to five years in prison because of the enhanced penalty of a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Sections 18.2-308.4(B); 18.2-10(f).

The most flagrant violation of this section occurs if an individual (1) possesses, uses, attempts to use, or threateningly brandishes a firearm when (2) the individual is simultaneously manufacturing, selling, distributing, or possessing with the intent to do such with a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, or over one pound of marijuana. Section 18.2-308.4(C). In such a case, the individual is still guilty of possession of firearms while in possession of certain substances, but the crime is a Class 6 felony with a substantially enhanced penalty. The individual faces a felony conviction with five years in prison because of the enhanced penalty of a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence. Sections 18.2-308.4(C); 18.2-10(f).

It is important to state, again, that these felonies and the penalties associated with them are designed to be served consecutively with the punishment the individual receives for the primary, drug-related offense. Section 18.2-308.4.

Multiple Convictions (Section 18.2-311.2)

In the state of Virginia, nonviolent gun-related offenses are usually Class 1 misdemeanors. For example, reckless handling of firearms, pointing a gun in a public space, hunting (with guns) while under the influence, carrying weapons into courthouses, carrying loaded guns in public areas, or buying gun while subject to a protective order, are all Class 1 misdemeanors. However, if an individual with two prior gun-related convictions is convicted of a gun-related offense that would otherwise be a Class 1 misdemeanor, then the crime becomes a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-311.2. Thus, instead of facing the penalties of a Class 1 misdemeanor, the individual would face one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, reduced penalties of up to 12 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

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