FIREARM PROHIBITIONS FOR PEOPLE SUBJECT TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROTECTIVE ORDERS:
In 2016, Virginia enacted a law that prohibits individuals subject to final domestic violence restraining or protective orders from possessing firearms.1 The law states that for a period of 24 hours after being served with such a protective order, the person may continue to possess and transport any firearm possessed by the person at the time of service for the purposes of selling or transferring it to any person not prohibited from possessing the firearm. In 2020, Virginia extended this law to apply to final restraining or protective orders issued against force or violence, regardless of the relationship between the victim and the respondent.2 This law also requires the court to order the respondent to surrender firearms within 24 hours to a law enforcement agency, a licensed gun dealer, or a person who is not prohibited from possessing guns, and to certify to the court that they have done so within 48 hours after being served with the order.3
Virginia prohibits the purchase or transportation (but not possession) of a firearm by anyone subject to an ex parte protective order while the order is in effect.4
Any concealed weapon permittee who is the subject of a domestic violence protective order, including an ex parte order, is also prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm and must surrender his or her permit to the court entering the order, for the duration of the order.5
FIREARM PROHIBITIONS FOR PEOPLE Convicted of Domestic Violencemisdemeanors:
In 2021, Virginia enacted legislation to prohibit people convicted of some domestic violence misdemeanors from accessing firearms—namely, those convicted of the crime of “assault and battery against a family or household member.”6 However, there are still gaps in this law that leave other victims of domestic violence crimes unprotected.
First, the definition of “family or household member” in this law excludes most victims of dating violence. Unless the victim and abuser have been married, recently resided together, or have a child in common, a person convicted of assault and battery against an intimate partner is still generally able to legally access guns under Virginia law. This gap mirrors a gap in federal law known as “the Boyfriend Loophole” since it fails to provide the same protections to victims of dating violence as it does to other victims of domestic violence.
Second, Virginia’s domestic violence gun restrictions also still do not apply to people convicted of committing other violent misdemeanors against family or household members, meaning that Virginia’s law is still weaker than federal law in this area. Federal law generally prohibits gun access by people convicted of any misdemeanor involving the use or attempted use of violence, or threatened use of a deadly weapon, against a family or household member, whether or not the elements of the crime are specific to domestic violence.7
Virginia law, however, doesnot:
- Prohibit individuals convicted of all domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms or ammunition (unlike federal law);
- Prohibit individuals convicted of domestic violence crimes against a dating partner from possessing firearms or ammunition;
- Prohibit individuals subject to ex parte restraining orders from possessing firearms; or
- Explicitly authorize or require the removal of firearms or ammunition at the scene of a domestic violence incident.
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- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1:4.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1:4(B) (citing Va. Code Ann. § 19.2-152.10).
- Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-308.1:4(C).
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1:4(A).
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1:4(A).
- See 2021 VA HB 1992 (Murphy), enacting Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1:8.
- 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(33); 27 CFR 478.11