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Legal Information: Virginia

State Gun Laws

December 19, 2019

I 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 for family abuse or a protective order for an act of violence, force, or threat against 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 or get a concealed handgun permit if:

  • a protective order was issued as part of a divorce;
  • a protective order was issued due to abuse/neglect of a child;
  • a substantial risk order was issued;
  • 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;1
  • s/he 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”;2
  • as an adult or as a minor age 14 or older, s/he was:
    • involuntarily admitted to a facility;
    • ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment;
    • the subject of a temporary detention order and subsequently agreed to voluntary admission; ​Note: The person can apply for a permit five years after s/he was released from commitment;3
  • s/he received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within the past five years;
  • s/he 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;
  • s/he is a fugitive from justice;
  • as a minor, s/he 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);
  • s/he 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);
  • s/he is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of, marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids (i.e., K2, Spice, etc.), or any controlled substance;4
  • s/he 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);5
  • s/he was discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions; or
  • s/he 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.6

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 Advocates and Shelters 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.

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