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In Virginia, the handgun is legal when segregated by a closed glove compartment

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Image from the Government Printing Office’s website.

Spend enough time around Virginia Circuit Court clerk office windows, and you will hear the stream of applicants for  concealed carry handgun permits. Many parts of Virginia and other parts of the South greet visitors and locals with particularly kind words and tones of voice, and it likely has nothing to do with erring on the side of kindness in case the other person is packing heat.

Elias Doulgerakis, for whatever reason, did not obtain a concealed carry handgun permit, but still drove around with one, in his closed glove compartment. Doulgerakis v. Va., ___ Va. App. ___ (Feb. 5, 2013). Police stopped him for a traffic violation in Henrico County, which is near Richmond, asked if he had anything in the car that the police should know about, and learned that a handgun was in the glove compartment.

Doulgerakis "was convicted, in a bench trial, of misdemeanor possession of a concealed weapon in violation of [Va.] Code § 18.2-308." Praised be Virginia’s Court of Appeals for reversing his conviction. Doulgerakis points out that Va. Code § 18.2-308(B)(10) "creates an exception by excluding the concealed weapon prohibition from ‘any person who may lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel . . . .’"  Doulgerakis found that the presence of the handgun in a closed and latched glove compartment — even though not locked — fit within the foregoing exception, so reversed Doulgerakis’s conviction.

Praised by Doulgerakis’s lawyer for preserving this issue for appeal. Such statutory construction arguments are not as sexy as the smoking gun used by Perry Mason or Matlock to save innocents client (their being television characters, their clients all are scripted as innocent), but is preferable to a conviction.