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Concealed carry & handgun limits in VA – Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in

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Concealed carry & handgun limits in VA- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in- Handgun photo

Concealed carry & handgun limits in VA- Fairfax criminal lawyer weighs in

Concealed carry & handgun rights in Virginia- Fairfax criminal lawyer addresses their limits

Concealed carry and handgun rights are extensively protected in Virginia, which is one of the more Second Amendment-protecting states. As a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer, I here address those rights and limits, and restoration of handgun rights, and warn about the harsh criminal law risks of bringing a handgun into the jurisdictions bordering the commonwealth to the north.

By law, Virginia Circuit Court clerk offices liberally grant permits for concealed carry handgun permits (see the application form here), unless the applicant has such disqualifiers as certain criminal convictions.

Openly carrying firearms is widely protected by Virginia law

Beyond the concealed carrying of handguns (“CCH”), Virginia widely protects openly carrying firearms. However, in Fairfax County and several other statutorily-designated parts of Virginia, the following open carry behavior is a jailable crime: “It shall be unlawful for any person to carry a loaded (a) 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 (b) shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered on or about his person.” Va. Code § 18.2-287.4.

Know Virginia’s criminal law against possessing a concealed weapon

Unless one has a CCH permit, Virginia law generally criminalizes carrying a concealed weapon (“CW”). Before carrying a CW without a permit, one should review the statutory definition of a CW. Virginia’s criminal prohibition of CW carrying generally bars carrying “about his person, hidden from common observation, (i) 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; (ii) any dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, sling bow, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack; (iii) 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; (iv) 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 (v) any weapon of like kind as those enumerated in this subsection.” Va. Code § 18.2-308(A).

One is not in violation of the foregoing Virginia concealed weapon statute under the following circumstances: at one’s place of business; going to and from a shooting range or weapons shop “provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported”; and having a handgun “secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel”. Va. Code § 18.2-308(C).

De facto concealed carry permits

Virginia law is so favorable to concealed handgun carry rights that only a judge may deny a concealed carry permit, and a delay over 45 days in granting or denying such a permit entitles the applicant to a 90-day de facto concealed carry permit. Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.08 and 18.2-308.05. Additionally, non-Virginia residents may apply for five-year concealed carry permits. Va. Code § 18.2-308.06.  Moreover, for reciprocity, a “valid concealed handgun or concealed weapon permit or license issued by another state shall authorize the holder of such permit or license who is at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun in the Commonwealth.” Va § 18.2-308.014(A).

Disqualification for a concealed carry permit

Virginia concealed carry permits are not available for those with felony convictions not older than sixteen years (or release from felony incarceration within 16 years, whichever comes later); those with certain drug and other enumerated convictions (including assault and stalking) for the statutorily-designated time periods; those subject to protective orders; those with pending felony prosecutions; and those with pending prosecutions for stalking, assault, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm, or brandishing of a firearm.

Concealed carry permits do not give an alcohol green light

Virginia law criminalizes consuming alcohol at a bar or restaurant while carrying a concealed handgun. Moreover, 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 § 18.2-36.1, maiming in violation of § 18.2-51.4, driving while intoxicated in violation of § 18.2-266, public intoxication in violation of § 18.2-388, or driving while intoxicated in violation of § 46.2-341.24.” Va. Code § 18.2-308.012.

Restoration of carrying rights

Here is a Virginia-issued pamphlet on restoring concealed carry rights. See also Va. Code § 18.2-308.2.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against felony, misdemeanor and DUI prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 to schedule a free in-person meeting with Jon Katz about your court-pending criminal or DWI case.