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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Weapons Offenses > Virginia Gun Laws and Location Restrictions

Virginia Gun Laws and Location Restrictions


In recent years, gun possession laws in Virginia have changed significantly, and the laws are still in a state of flux. Likewise, location restrictions have changed significantly and will likely change again at least once. But we’ll break down these restrictions as they exist as of May 2024.

The penalties for carrying a weapon in a prohibited place are very stiff. Furthermore, ignorance of the law is no excuse. However, location restrictions are often rather vague. So, a Leesburg weapons crime lawyer can often successfully resolve these matters. This resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges, a not-guilty verdict at trial, or a plea to a lesser-included offense.

Establishing Possession

Location restriction violations don’t hold up in court unless prosecutors establish possession beyond any reasonable doubt. In Virginia, criminal possession has three elements:

  • Proximity,
  • Knowledge, and
  • Control.

Proximity is usually straightforward, even in a vehicle possession case. Legally, anything in the passenger area, including the bed of a pickup or the trunk of a car, satisfies the proximity requirement.

Knowledge and control are different. A defendant may not know about a gun hidden underneath a seat. If s/he didn’t know about it, s/he obviously couldn’t control it either.

Once again, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer doesn’t have to disprove possession. A lawyer must only create a reasonable doubt as to one of the three basic elements.

Prohibited Places

Special location restrictions apply in Loudoun County and other highly-populated areas in Virginia. No one can carry most semi-automatic center-fire rifles or pistols or a shotgun with a magazine that holds more than seven bullets.

This restriction is a blanket prohibition. But other location restrictions are much more subjective. These places include:

  • Electoral Board: This prohibition is different from a polling place. No one can carry any gun within forty 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.
  • State Capitol: This prohibition also includes any office where employees of the Commonwealth or any agency thereof are regularly present for the purpose of performing their official duties. This prohibition could include pretty much any place.
  • Place of Worship: The law prohibits carrying a weapon at any place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held unless the person has a “good and sufficient reason.” Meetings for religious purposes aren’t limited to church buildings on Sunday mornings. Furthermore, the Attorney General has opined that personal protection is a good and sufficient reason, but this opinion isn’t legally binding.

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.

Work With a Diligent Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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