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Know the Laws: Virginia

UPDATED November 18, 2016

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Below is information about state gun laws in Virginia.  However, in addition to these state-specific laws, there are also federal gun laws that could apply.  To fully understand all of the legal protections available, it is important that you also read the Federal Gun Laws pages.

WomensLaw.org strongly recommends that you get in touch with a domestic violence advocate or lawyer in your community for more information on gun laws in your state. To find an agency, please go to the VA Where to Find Help page to find help.

Guns and Criminal Convictions

back to topIf the abuser has been convicted of a crime, can s/he keep or buy a gun?

Under Virginia law, people convicted of certain crimes cannot get a permit to carry a concealed handgun.  A person is disqualified from getting a permit if s/he:

  • has been convicted of, or has a charge pending for, a felony;* 
  • was convicted of, or has a charge pending for, any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm, or brandishing of a firearm within the past three years;*1 
  • was convicted of, or has a charge pending for, stalking;*2 
  • within the past three years, was found guilty of any criminal drug offense (listed in Article 1 of the law, beginning with section 18.2-247) or of a criminal offense of illegal possession or distribution of marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, or any controlled substance in another state; (Note: This includes a first-time offender who was sentenced to probation and, upon fulfilling the terms of probation, had the conviction discharged and the proceedings dismissed);*3 
  • is a fugitive from justice;*4
  • as a minor, had a previous conviction/adjudication of delinquency (within the past 16 years of the date of the conviction or release from incarceration, whichever is later) for an offense that would have been a felony if committed by an adult; (Note: This doesn't apply if the person later completed at least two years in the Armed Forces and was honorably discharged);*5
  • is under age 29 and was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile (14 or older) for an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult (or, regardless of one's current age, was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, or rape);*6
  • was convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the past five years and one of the misdemeanors was a Class 1 misdemeanor (Note: Even if none of them were Class 1 misdemeanors, a judge can still decide to deny the permit);*7 
  • within the past three years, was convicted of driving while intoxicated, public drunkenness, or a substantially similar offense under the laws of any other state;*8 
  • was acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity and committed to the custody of the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, although s/he can apply for a permit five years after being released by the Commissioner;*9
  • was declared legally incompetent or mentally incapacitated by a court, although s/he can apply for a permit five years after his/her capacity was "restored";*10 or
  • was involuntarily admitted to a facility or ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment, or who was the subject of a temporary detention order and subsequently agreed to voluntary admission; although s/he can apply for a permit five years after s/he was released from commitment.*11

Federal laws, which apply to all states, also restrict a person's right to have a gun if s/he has been convicted of certain crimes.  Go to Federal Gun Laws to get more information.

* Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(6),(17) 
*1 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(14),(17)
*2 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(15),(17)
*3 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(19),(20)
*4 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(12)
*5 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(16)
*6 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(6) 
*7 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(7)
*8 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(9)
*9 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:1(A); 18.2-308.09(1),(2) 
*10 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:2(A); 18.2-308.09(1),(3) 
*11 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:3(A); § 18.2-308.09(1),(4)

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back to topHow can I find out if the abuser has been convicted of a crime?

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are open to the public, but they are not always easy to access.  If you know the exact courthouse where the abuser may have been convicted, you can go to the courthouse and ask the clerk of court for access to those records.

Domestic violence misdemeanor and felony records are also kept in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). However, no one other than law enforcement officials and licensed firearm sellers are allowed to search the NICS.  Your local police department may be willing to search NICS for you if you ask, but they are not required to do so.

To read more about the NICS, please What will happen if the abuser tries to purchase a gun?

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