Carrying a Concealed Weapon
Concealed Carry in Virginia
There are many laws in Virginia about who may carry a concealed weapon, what kinds of weapons are permissible, and other regulations. Starting in July of 2020, localities will have more latitude to add their own restrictions, which will be important for residents to know.
It is, generally, illegal to carry a concealed weapon in Virginia. As laid out in the code, § 18.2-308:
A. If any person carries 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, slingshot, 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, he is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second violation of this section or a conviction under this section subsequent to any conviction under any substantially similar ordinance of any county, city, or town shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony, and a third or subsequent such violation shall be punishable as a Class 5 felony. For the purpose of this section, a weapon shall be deemed to be hidden from common observation when it is observable but is of such deceptive appearance as to disguise the weapon’s true nature.
This section further notes that:
It shall be an affirmative defense to a violation of clause (i) regarding a handgun, that a person had been issued, at the time of the offense, a valid concealed handgun permit.
This prohibition also does not apply to certain government employees and officials, as well as
- Any person while in his own place of business;
- Any person who is at, or going to or from, an established shooting range, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
- Any regularly enrolled member of a weapons collecting organization who is at, or going to or from, a bona fide weapons exhibition, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
- Any person carrying such weapons between his place of abode and a place of purchase or repair, provided the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported;
- Any person actually engaged in lawful hunting, as authorized by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries, under inclement weather conditions necessitating temporary protection of his firearm from those conditions, provided that possession of a handgun while engaged in lawful hunting shall not be construed as hunting with a handgun if the person hunting is carrying a valid concealed handgun permit;
- 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; and
- Any enrolled participant of a firearms training course who is at, or going to or from, a training location, provided that the weapons are unloaded and securely wrapped while being transported.
Concealed Handgun Permit
Despite the foregoing, Va. Code § 18.2-308.01 states that these prohibitions shall not apply to a person who has a “valid concealed carry permit issued pursuant to this article.” Concealed Carry permits are mentioned above as an ‘affirmative defense’, as well. The difference is that an affirmative defense is generally raised at trial. Which is to say, that you can still be charged for unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon if you have but are not in possession of a permit at the time you are stopped. Producing the permit at trial would then be an affirmative defense to conviction. However, if you are – as you should be- carrying your permit, you cannot be charged.
The person issued the permit shall have such permit on his person at all times during which he is carrying a concealed handgun and shall display the permit and a photo identification issued by a government agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. State Department (passport) upon demand by a law-enforcement officer. A person to whom a nonresident permit is issued shall have such permit on his person at all times when he is carrying a concealed handgun in the Commonwealth and shall display the permit on demand by a law-enforcement officer.
Failure to do so can also lead to a $25 civil penalty.
A concealed carry permit does not supersede laws prohibiting guns in certain places (like schools or courts).
Virginia law does not require that you proactively inform any officers that you are legally carrying a concealed weapon pursuant to a duly issued Concealed Handgun Permit. Whether you choose to do so is a choice you can make, but you must show your permit and ID on demand if requested.
Va. Code § 18.2-308.012 outlines ‘prohibited conduct’ that applies even with a CHP.
Carrying a handgun in a public place while under the influence of alcohol or other illegal drugs is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
Consuming alcohol in a bar or restaurant while carrying a concealed weapon is also a Class 2 Misdemeanor, regardless of whether you are, or become, intoxicated.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have been charged with any crime relating to the carrying of a concealed weapon, you absolutely should hire a lawyer. Gun laws can get complicated and serious, and violations can have lasting impacts.
Our Virginia criminal defense attorney can help those accused of carrying a concealed weapon throughout Northern Virginia including Alexandria, Arlington, & Fairfax.