En Español
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

Know the Laws: Virginia

UPDATED November 18, 2016

View All

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.

More Information and Where to Get Help

back to topI do not have a protective order against the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime. Can s/he own a gun?

Even if you do not have a protective order the abuser and s/he has not been convicted of a crime, there are other reasons that s/he may not be able to legally possess a firearm under Virginia law.  A person is disqualified from getting a concealed handgun permit if s/he:

  • 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;*
  • 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";*1
  • 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;*2
  • has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within the past five years;*3 
  • has a charge pending for:
    • a felony;
    • any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm, or brandishing of a firearm; or
    • stalking;*4
  • is a fugitive from justice;*5
  • 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);*6
  • 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);*7
  • is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids (i.e., K2, Spice, etc.), or any controlled substance;*8
  • was declared a "habitual drunkard" by the court and an order of interdiction prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to him/her was entered by the court;*9 
  • is an immigrant who was not lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States (in other words, you have to be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident to get a permit);*10 
  • was discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;*11 or
  • is someone who the judge determines is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others (based on specific acts s/he committed). Note: The sheriff, chief of police, or attorney for the Commonwealth would have to submit to the court a sworn, written statement indicating that, in his/her opinion and based upon personal knowledge of specific acts committed, the person is likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others.*12

If none of these situations apply, you can still make a plan for your safety.  See our Staying Safe page for more information.  You can also contact your local domestic violence organization for additional help.  You may want to talk to them about whether leaving the area - either long term or for a little while - might help improve your safety.  See our VA State and Local Programs page to find a local domestic violence organization near you. 

For additional information on gun laws in Virginia, you can go to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

* Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:1(A); 18.2-308.09(1),(2) 
*1 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:2(A); 18.2-308.09(1),(3) 
*2 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.1:3(A); 18.2-308.09(1),(4)  
*3 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(18)
*4 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(17) 
*5 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(12)
*6 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(16)
*7 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(6) 
*8 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(8)
*9 Va. Code §§ 18.2-308.09(9); 4.1-333(A)
*10 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(10); see Va. Code § 18.2-308.2:01
*11 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(11)
*12 Va. Code § 18.2-308.09(13)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topThe abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply?

Maybe.  According to Virginia state law, someone who was convicted of a felony (or was adjudicated delinquent for certain serious offenses) can use a firearm while performing work duties if s/he is a member of the Armed Forces or National Guard, or a law enforcement officer.* 

There are similar exceptions under federal law.**  See The abuser uses a gun for his/her job. Does the law still apply? in our Federal Gun Laws section for more information. 

If you are confused or not sure whether the abuser can still use his/her gun for work purposes, you can call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to find out more information: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2.  

* Va. Code § 18.2-308.2(B)
** See 18 USC § 925(a)(1)

Did you find this information helpful?

back to topI've read through all of this information, and I am still confused. What can I do?

Trying to understand both federal and state law can be confusing, but there are people out there who can help you better understand the law and your rights under the law.

  • You can contact the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit to get more information about how firearm laws apply to you: 1-800-903-0111, ext. 2.
  • You can contact a local domestic violence organization in your area.  See our VA State and Local Programs page.
  • You can write to our Email Hotline.

Did you find this information helpful?

back to top