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Virginia Laws Against Aggressive or Violent Machine Gun Use


Referred to as machine guns, automatic firearms and similar weapons are highly regulated in Virginia. This stems from the potential danger that these weapons pose to the general public. Armed with a machine gun, a single assailant has the power to harm large groups of people at the same time. To minimize the impact of this danger, Virginia employs strict laws for the possession and use of machine guns.

Definition & Registration of Machine Guns

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-288, the term machine gun has a specific definition. In Virginia, the term machine gun refers to any weapon that is capable of automatic fire without the need to reload in between discharges. Stated otherwise, the user must be able to discharge multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger.

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-295, the owner of any machine gun must register the weapon with the Department of State Police. The owner must submit their registration within 24 hours of:

  • Purchase or acquisition of a machine gun; or
  • Conversion of a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun.

Use of a Machine Gun for an Aggressive Purpose

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-291, it is unlawful to possess or use a machine gun for an aggressive purpose. Section 18.2-291 presumes an aggressive or offensive purpose when:

  • A person brings a machine gun to a property they do not own or rent;
  • A person convicted of a violent crime possesses or uses a machine gun;
  • The machine gun was not registered in accordance with Section 18.2-295; or
  • A machine gun is in the immediate proximity of empty or loaded ammunition.

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-290, possession or use of a machine gun for an aggressive purpose is a Class 4 felony. The typical punishment for a Class 4 felony in Virginia includes two to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines, either or both.

Use of a Machine Gun for a Crime of Violence

Virginia law also prohibits the possession or use of a machine gun for a crime of violence. The definition of a crime of violence appears in Section 18.2-288. A crime of violence includes an attempt or commission of:

  • Assault with the intent to maim, disable, disfigure, or kill;
  • Breaking and entering;
  • Burglary;
  • Housebreaking;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Larceny;
  • Manslaughter;
  • Mayhem;
  • Murder;
  • Rape; or
  • Robbery.

Under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-289, possession or use of a machine gun for a crime of violence is a Class 2 felony. The typical punishment for a Class 2 felony in Virginia includes 20 years to life in prison and $100,000 in fines, either or both.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have legal questions about machine guns or other weapon crimes in Virginia, it is useful to contact a dependable criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP feature extensive experience in the field of criminal defense, including weapon crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.

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Contact the Leesburg, Winchester & Loudoun County Attorneys of Simms Showers LLP today

Simms Showers LLP is conveniently located two blocks from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Our criminal defense firm offers a free phone consultation for criminal or personal injury cases. Se habla español. Call Simms Showers LLP for quality legal counsel today at 703-997-7821 or contact us online.

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