Virginia prohibits the carrying of certain kinds of loaded firearms on or about the person, openly or concealed, on any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way, or in any public park or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public in certain cities.1 More specifically, the law applies to a loaded: (i) semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that 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 that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock; or (ii) shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered.2 The law only applies in the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William.3 Concealed handgun permit holders and individuals actually engaged in lawful hunting or lawful recreational shooting activities at an established shooting range or shooting contest are among the exceptions.4
Virginia also prohibits the possession of firearms by anyone, even concealed handgun permit holders:
- Within 40 feet of any building, or part thereof, used as a polling place during the times the polls are open and ballots are being counted, or within one hour of opening or after closing.5
- Within 40 feet of any building, or part thereof, used as a meeting place for the local electoral board while the electoral board meets to ascertain the results of an election6, or used for a recount;7
- In the Capitol of Virginia building; the Capitol Square and the surrounding area; any building owned or leased by the Commonwealth or any agency thereof; or any office where employees of the Commonwealth or any agency thereof are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties;8
- In a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held, unless the person has a “good and sufficient reason.”9 (Note, however, that the Attorney General of Virginia has opined that carrying a weapon for personal protection constitutes a “good and sufficient reason” under this law.10);
- In any courthouse;11
- In any “air carrier airport terminal”12 and
- On the property of a child care center or preschool during operating hours.13
In 2010, Virginia enacted a law that allows concealed handgun permit holders to carry firearms in any restaurant or club licensed to serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption. Concealed handgun permit holders were previously prohibited from carrying concealed handguns in these locations. Under the new law, permit holders were only prohibited from consuming an alcoholic beverage while on the premises.14
Virginia law also states that a concealed handgun permit does not authorize the possession of a firearm on property or in places where such possession is prohibited by law or the owner of private property.15
Virginia law provides that, during hours of operation, all firearms in a licensed family day home must be stored unloaded in a locked container, compartment, or cabinet, and all ammunition shall be stored in a separate locked container, compartment, or cabinet. The key or combination to such locked containers, compartments, or cabinets must be inaccessible to all children in the home.16 Virginia law explicitly allows certain counties and cities to regulate the possession and storage of firearms and ammunition in family day homes so long as such regulation remains no more extensive in scope than comparable state regulations applicable to family day homes.17
Virginia law prohibits a public housing rental agreement from prohibiting or restricting lawful possession of a firearm within individual dwelling units unless required by federal law or regulation.18
Localities may prohibit firearms, ammunition, or components thereof in the following places, provided that notice is properly posted:
- In any building, or part thereof, owned or used by such locality for governmental purposes, provided that in buildings that are not owned by the locality, the ordinance only applies to the part of the building being used for a governmental purpose when it is being used for a governmental purpose;
- In any public park owned or operated by the locality;
- In any recreation or community center facility operated by the locality; or
- On any public street, road, alley, or sidewalk or public right-of-way or other place that is open to the public and is being used by or is adjacent to a permitted event or an event that would otherwise require a permit.19
Virginia has no laws prohibiting firearms in the following places, although administrative regulations may apply:
- Sports arenas;
- Gambling facilities; or
- Polling places.
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- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-287.4.
- Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-604(a). An opinion issued by the state attorney general on Sept. 1, 2021, clarifies that early polling locations count as polling locations for the purposes of the prohibition. https://www.oag.state.va.us/media-center/news-releases/2139-september-1-2021-new-opinion-from-attorney-general-herring-says-firearms-prohibited-at-early-voting-locations.
- Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-671.
- Va. Code Ann. § 24.2-802.1.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-283.2.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-283.
- 2011 Va. AG LEXIS 23, *4.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-283.1.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-287.01.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.1 .
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.012.
- Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308.01(c).
- Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-1701.01.
- Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-914.
- Va. Code Ann. § 55-225.22:1.
- Va. Code Ann. § 15.2-915(E).