“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”


Virginia is a shall-issue state. There is no permit or registration required when buyingfrom a private individual. However, all sales are required to be completed through a dealer and a background check. A one handgun per month restriction is in effect, CCP holders are exempt. Open carry is legal without a permit at 18. Concealed carry is legal. Virginia honors all out-of-state CCPs. VA case law supports a version of the castle doctrine and stand your ground. There is no duty to retreat.

Reciprocal Carry

By statute, Virginia will recognize all other state’s license to carry, provided that:

“1. The holder of such permit or license is at least 21 years of age; and
2.The permit or license holder carries a photo identification issued by a government agency of any state or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of State; and
3. The holder displays the permit or license and such identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; and
4. The permit or license holder has not previously had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.”

Anyone contemplating reciprocal carry should check with the official list maintained by the Virginia State Police at the point in time the reciprocal carry is to occur.

Duty To Notify Police Officer

Virginia does not require individuals to inform a LEO of a permit or license to carry but if an Officer asks about a weapon, by law, an answer must be supplied. You are required to have Your license/permit with you at all times that you carry.

Carrying Firearms In Vehicles

Virginia permits anyone who is legally allowed to possess firearms to carry a handgun without a permit, provided it is secured in a locked container or compartment.

NFA Items

Virginia permits ownership of all NFA items, provided they are legally obtained pursuant to federal law. MGs must be registered with the state police within 24 hours of acquisition. It is legal to use suppressors for hunting. Some DDs are prohibited outside of law enforcement.

Self-Defense Laws

Virginia has a Castle Doctrine but no SYG law. There is no duty to retreat when in Your dwelling. You may use force, including deadly force, in defense of yourself or others if You reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent imminent death, SBI, the commission of a forcible felony, or to stop the unlawful & forcible entry into Your dwelling if You reasonably believe the intruder intends to harm an occupant of the dwelling.

Carry In Restaurants That Serve Alcohol

You are allowed to carry into any establishment that serves alcohol, including bars. You are prohibited from carrying while you consume alcohol or are under the influence of alcohol.

Do “No Gun Signs” Have The Force Of Law?

“No Firearms” signs in Virginia do not have the force of law unless they are posted on property that is specifically mentioned in state law as being off limits to those with a permit/license to carry. However, as a possessor with a real property interest, a retailer, has the right to limit, and qualify the right to enter the property, subject to not carrying a handgun. It would be improper to enter, and the licensee would be subject to ejection for possession of a handgun thereat. Failure to leave once requested would subject the licensee to criminal charges.

Open Carry

Open carry is generally allowed without a permit for people 18 years of age and older. The following cities and counties have exceptions that disallow the open carry of “assault weapons” (any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock) or shotguns equipped with a magazine that holds more than 7 rounds: the Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach and in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, and Prince William. These restrictions do not apply to valid concealed carry permit holders.

Assault Weapons Law

Virginia defines an assault weapon as “any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock, or a shotgun with a magazine which will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered”. Virginia restricts the sale and possession of assault weapons to US citizens who are at least 18 years old for a rifle/shotgun or 21 years old for a pistol. Restrictions on carrying assault weapons may apply.

DISCLAIMER: The Gun Laws by State Guide (GLBSG) was created to provide its readers with a general educational resource tool to explore the pertinent gun laws in Your jurisdiction.

However, the GLBSG was not researched and/or written by attorneys as a specific legal guide to rely upon. Instead, it is a starting point for your own research. In addition, all laws are always subject to reasonable, but different, legal interpretation as to meaning and application.

As such, the GLBSG is not intended to supplant, nor limit, Your need for independent verification of any and all material contained herein and consultation with competent counsel of choice regarding any specific issues.

This type of specific legal analysis is necessarily beyond the general educational objective of the GLBSG and for which a bar-admitted attorney in the particular state(s) is needed and required. The content of this GLBSG is a general restatement of the law.

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