Virginia prohibits the knowing possession of any firearm on:
- Any public, private or religious elementary, middle or high school, including buildings and grounds;
- That portion of any property open to the public and exclusively used for school-sponsored functions or extracurricular activities while such functions or activities are taking place; and
- Any school bus owned or operated by such school.1
The law provides exceptions for any person who possesses:
- A firearm as a part of the school’s curriculum or activities;
- A firearm as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises;
- An unloaded firearm in a closed container in or upon a motor vehicle, or an unloaded shotgun or rifle in a firearms rack in or upon a motor vehicle; or
- A valid concealed handgun permit and 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.2
In addition, any school board may prohibit the carrying, sale, storage, or transportation of guns or ammunition in or on any building or property outside of a school zone as defined in 18 U.S.C. Section 921 that it owns or leases where employees of such school board are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties. School boards, however, may not prohibit any individual who possesses an unloaded firearm that is in a closed container in or upon a motor vehicle or an unloaded shotgun or rifle in a firearms rack in or upon a motor vehicle; or any individual 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 to or egress from the school board property.3
In 2020, Virginia enacted a law prohibiting any school board from authorizing or designating any person to possess a firearm on school property other than those persons expressly authorized as listed above.4
In 2010, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected a challenge to George Mason University’s regulation restricting the possession and carrying of firearms inside campus buildings and at campus events.5 The court pointed out that the regulation was tailored, restricting weapons only in those places where people congregate and are most vulnerable. Individuals could still carry or possess weapons on the open grounds of this public university, and in other places on campus not enumerated in the regulation.6
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- Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-308.1(B). Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-277.07(A) provides that a school board must expel for at least one year any student who has brought a firearm, air rifle or BB gun onto school property or to a school-sponsored activity. Also see Op. Att’y Gen. Va. 03-083 (2003), 2003 Va. AG LEXIS 46 (opining that the school board may discipline a student in possession of an unloaded firearm in a locked vehicle trunk).
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1(B).
- Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-131.1.
- Va. Code Ann. § 22.1-280.2:4.
- Digiacinto v. Rector & Visitors of George Mason Univ., 704 S.E.2d 365, 369 (Va. 2011).