Many residents of Virginia own firearms. But responsible firearm ownership also includes understanding the laws that govern the ownership, transportation, and use of firearms. Not following these rules may mean that you end up facing a weapons charge that could have been easily avoided.
One of the most common questions that many gun owners in Virginia may have involves whether it is considered illegal to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle. Keep reading to learn more about your rights and gun laws in Virginia.
What Are Virginia’s Gun Laws?
Under Virginia law, people are not required to obtain a registration or permit before openly carrying a firearm on their person, except where otherwise prohibited by law. Individuals must obtain a concealed handgun permit from the circuit court in the jurisdiction where they reside before concealed carrying their firearm. Nonresidents may obtain a concealed handgun permit from the Virginia State Police.
People are not required to obtain a concealed handgun permit while transporting a handgun in their vehicle, provided the handgun is located in a container or other separate compartment in the vehicle. The container or compartment need not be locked.
However, Virginia law allows counties and municipalities to adopt ordinances that make it unlawful for people to transport or possess loaded firearms in their vehicles while on a public road under certain circumstances.
What Happens If I’m Pulled Over With a Loaded Weapon?
Even if you are legally carrying or transported a loaded weapon in your vehicle under Virginia law, you should familiarize yourself with the actions you should take if you are pulled over by law enforcement. These actions can help keep both you and the officer conducting the traffic stop safe:
- Although Virginia law does not require concealed carry gun owners to voluntarily disclose to a police officer at a traffic stop that they are armed, you can extend courtesy to an officer during a traffic stop by letting them know that you have a firearm in your vehicle and where the firearm is located.
- As soon as you pull over, turn your engine off, turn your interior lights on, lower your driver’s side window, and stay in your vehicle with your hands on the steering wheel. Don’t reach around your vehicle for your license and registration until the officer asks you to retrieve it.
- When you reach for your license and registration, move slowly and avoid any sudden or jerky movements. It can also help to remind the officer that you have a weapon in the vehicle and where the weapon is located.
- If you have a concealed carry permit, you can again extend the officer courtesy by providing your permit along with your license and registration. You are required to have your permit on you when in possession of a concealed carry firearm. You must also provide your permit to the officer if they ask for it.
Most importantly, try to remember to remain calm and wait for any instruction from the officer
How Del Rio Law Can Help
When you are charged with a criminal offense for having a loaded weapon in your vehicle in Virginia, Del Rio Law, PLLC, can help by:
- Explaining your rights and obligations as a gun owner under Virginia state law and local ordinance
- Reviewing the facts and circumstances of your arrest to determine whether you may have factual and legal defenses in your case, such as whether the firearm in your vehicle was located in a closed container or compartment
- Seeking to reduce or dismiss your charges where possible
- Vigorously advocating on your behalf to secure a result in your case that allows you to move forward with your life
If you’re arrested on a weapons charge after having a loaded gun in your vehicle, contact Richmond gun crime defense attorney Abraham Del Rio today for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation to discuss potential defenses and strategies available to you to face your charges. Call us today at (804) 299-8612 or get in touch with us online.