Gun Possession Rights in Virginia

For nearly 70 years, the Supreme Court’s view on gun regulation has been in line with many anti-gun supporters, agreeing that the language of the Second Amendment reserves gun ownership for those directly serving in a militia.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Virginia’s state constitution includes a similar provision:

“That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.”

In 2008, in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court shifted its position regarding gun ownership. The issue of the case came from the District of Columbia’s difficult standards for lawful gun owners within its jurisdiction. Not only did the area have a nearly widespread ban on all handguns, but lawful owners were required to keep their weapons “unloaded and disassembled or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”

When D.C. special police officer Dick Anthony Heller was denied a license for a handgun he wished to keep in his home, he sued, stating it was his Second Amendment right to keep a firearm in his home for self-defense. He argued that both the restrictions of the license, and the restrictions to have the firearm in a nonfunctional status, violated his right.

With a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court decided these restrictions were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court also agreed that the language of the Second Amendment referenced militia as a non-exclusive term. Members of a militia were not limited to those who served in the military; rather, this included any able bodied man who was called to act. Therefore, the term secured the right for any individual to possess and carry a weapon.

As it stands today, gun laws in Virginia favor gun supporters. Virginia does not require a state license to purchase or possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun, nor does it require gun owners to register their weapons. Additionally, the state does not require a permit to open carry. It does, however, require a license for concealed carry of handguns.

Virginia also recognizes the right to carry reciprocity, meaning if you have a license to carry concealed in one state, the license is also recognized in Virginia. This applies in the reverse as well – a Virginia license to carry concealed is recognized in other states, such as Texas, Florida, Kentucky, and more.

If you have a question regarding firearm ownership laws, contact your Virginia Beach defense attorney at the Law Offices of Daniel J Miller. We are available for your call 24/7. We can be reached at (757) 517-2942.