Switch to ADA Accessible Theme
Close Menu
Leesburg, Winchester & Manassas Attorneys
CALL FOR A CONSULTATION TODAY Free for Personal Injury & Criminal Defense Only
Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Virginia’s Gun Possession Laws: What You Should Know

Virginia’s Gun Possession Laws: What You Should Know


Political winds often change direction suddenly and unpredictably, but a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer is consistent and predictable. Attorneys stand up for your right to keep and bear arms in court. Additionally, lawyers give you solid advice throughout the criminal law process, so you are never in the dark.

Gun Permits in Virginia

For starters, Virginia is a shall-issue state. If applicants meet the minimum qualifications to carry a concealed weapon, the local CLEO (chief law enforcement officer) shall issue a permit. However, the law doesn’t include a timeline. The CLEO can issue that permit when sh/e’s ready to do so.

There is no permit or firearms registration required when buying a handgun from a private individual, provided the buyer and seller are both Virginia residents. However, as of July 1, 2020, all sellers must submit to a background check. Additionally, a one handgun per month purchase restriction is now in effect, although concealed carry permit holders are exempt.

Open carry is legal in Virginia without a permit for anyone who is at least 18 years old who can legally possess a firearm. However,  many localities, such as Alexandria and Newport News may ban the open carry of firearms in public buildings, parks, and at special events. A Leesburg criminal defense lawyer usually handles these violations in municipal court.

Concealed carry is legal for residents with a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) and non-residents with any valid state license/permit. The state gives CHPs to both residents and non-residents, who are at least 21 years old, have completed a state-approved firearms training course, and have demonstrated competence with the firearm. CHPs are invalid in some areas, including airport terminals and places of worship during services. In addition, municipalities may ban guns in government buildings and areas such as public parks, recreation or community centers, and outdoor areas being used during permitted events.

In terms of reciprocity, in accordance with the Constitution’s full faith and credit clause, Virginia honors all out-of-state concealed carry permits.

Self-Defense/Defense of Others

Although not codified by statute, Virginia case law supports self-defense, a version of the castle doctrine, and stand your ground, in certain circumstances. There is no duty to retreat, and you can defend yourself at any location you are legally permitted to be.

Furthermore, Virginia law currently allows the use of self-defense when a person, who is not the aggressor:

  • Reasonably believes the person is in imminent danger of an overt act threatening unlawful force, serious bodily harm or death, and
  • Uses the amount of force reasonable in relation to the threat.

A person may only use deadly force if there was a present danger of great bodily injury. Individuals are allowed to defend another person from harm if the person being defended would have been justified in using self-defense.

Defense of Dwelling

Although Virginia law does not allow deadly force to prevent an entry into a home or dwelling, non-deadly force may be used to prevent an unlawful entry into a dwelling. Deadly force is only justified in circumstances where a person reasonably believes the intruder will commit great bodily injury or death.

Rely on a Detail-Oriented Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn
MileMark Media

© 2023 - 2024 Simms Showers, LLP. All rights reserved.
This law firm website and legal marketing are managed by MileMark Media.

x Which Newsletter are you interested in? *