Ask a Deputy: Open Carry Firearms

A readers asks about Virginia's laws on carrying a weapon in public.

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Q: My best friend, retired military from the Florida Panhandle is coming to visit here in Virginia. He openly carries a side arm in Florida. He’s asking is that lawful in Virginia, not concealed. He has a permit. Can you help please?

John C.

A: Thank you for the question John. In general, one may openly carry a sidearm in plain sight in Virginia. The restrictions to openly carrying are divided into two broad categories, locations where you may not carry and persons who are not permitted to possess and/or transport a firearm. Locations where firearms may not be carried include:

  • Federal facilities
  • Federal agency lands
  • National Forests except where hunting is permitted
  • General Assembly buildings
  • Hog Island Wildlife Management Area
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • George Mason University
  • Courthouses
  • Detention Facilities
  • K-12 school grounds
  • K-12 school buses
  • Property used exclusively for K-12 school sponsored functions
  • Air carrier airport terminals
  • Places of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held without good and sufficient reason

Additionally in Loudoun County, one may not carry in public areas a loaded firearm that meets one of the following conditions (with exceptions):

  1. A semi-automatic rifle or pistol with a loaded, inserted magazine capable of holding more than 20 rounds of ammunition
  2. A semi-automatic rifle or pistol designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer
  3. A semi-automatic rifle or pistol equipped with a folding stock
  4. A shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than 7 rounds of ammunition

Persons not permitted to possess and/or transport firearms under §18.2-308 include:

  • Persons acquitted by reason of insanity of any felony or Class I or II misdemeanor
  • Persons adjudicated incompetent or mentally incapacitated
  • Persons involuntarily committed or ordered to outpatient treatment
  • Persons subject to a protective order
  • Persons convicted of certain drug offenses
  • Convicted felons
  • While possessing certain controlled substances
Desarae Wayne June 25, 2013 at 02:29 PM
*Virginia Code § 18.2-308. Personal protection; carrying concealed weapons; when lawful to carry; penalty.* http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-308.* *I did see some restrictions in regards to hunting & firearms on the water. I found these in: http://www.handgunlaw.us/states/virginia.pdf.* 4VAC15-40-120. Hog Island Wildlife Management Area; Possession of Loaded Gun Prohibited; Exception. It shall be unlawful to have in possession at any time a gun which is not unloaded and cased or dismantled on that portion of the Hog Island Wildlife Management Area bordering on the James River and lying north of the Surry Nuclear Power Plant, except while hunting deer or waterfowl in conformity with a special permit issued by the department.* *And 4VAC15-40-140. Prohibited on Buggs Island and Certain Waters of the Gaston Reservoir. It shall be unlawful to hunt or have in one's possession a loaded gun on Buggs Island or to shoot over or have a loaded gun upon the water on Gaston Reservoir (Roanoke River) from a point beginning at High Rock and extending to the John H. Kerr Dam. Statutory Authority §§ 29.1-103, 29.1-501 and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia.*
Desarae Wayne June 25, 2013 at 02:36 PM
I have a ? about open carry after you have your concealed carry permit. A friend told me he doesn't think I can open carry in VA anymore since I have my concealed carry permit now, because this is true in a lot of states. Is this the case in VA? I tried looking it up online & only saw something that said this may be the case in VA because it is the case in other states. Thanks!
TPKeller June 25, 2013 at 05:14 PM
Desarae, sadly, this is one of those all too may "wives tales" of gun laws. In Virginia, there is no law that requires a CHP-holder to carry their handgun in only a concealed manner. You need a permit to conceal, but not to carry openly - having a CHP does not change that.


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