Virginia Gun Lawyer

Gun laws in Virginia apply to a number of different situations, and things that are legal for one person may not be legal for another. Because there are discrepancies based on criminal records, certifications, and things of this nature, the laws can grow rather complex. By contacting a Virginia gun lawyer, you can understand what laws apply to a situation.

Two main sections, § 18.2-308 and § 18.2-311, have been established to control the carrying and ownership of guns and related weapons. These sections are then broken into various subsections for more specific situations.

If you have been accused of breaking any of the different subsections of § 18.2-308 and § 18.2-311, it is important to contact a Virginia gun lawyer to help you sort through the details that concern your case. A lawyer will know the ways that these laws have been interpreted in the past, and will be able to draw from precedents that have been set regarding what types of penalties should be imposed.

It should first be noted that there are stark differences between weapons used for hunting, target shooting, and related situations and weapons used for personal protection. It is lawful to carry a hunting weapon while on your personal property or state game land without a permit. It is also lawful to transfer said weapon in your vehicle as long as it is unloaded and the ammunition is stored in a different compartment than the weapon itself. The standard provisions are in place for carrying this type of weapon in government buildings, public spaces, and the like.

Carrying Concealed Weapons

A gun lawyer in Virginia will tell you that most gun violations have to do with concealed weapons and handguns. § 18.2-308 states that any weapon that is concealed from public view, including a pistol, a revolver, or any type of handgun, could cause the carrier to be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense. If the offense occurs a second time, a Class 6 felony will be used. If it happens a third time, the crime warrants a Class 5 felony.

The punishments vary with the crimes, and they are different depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime. A misdemeanor first offense may result in a short jail term and fines, while the felony charges for repeated offenses will result in longer incarceration terms. Furthermore, a person with a felony is not able to get a permit to carry a handgun in the future. This right is forfeited because of the prior indication that the person will disregard applicable laws. A permit is not required under Virginia law to purchase any type of gun, whether a handgun, a shotgun, or a rifle.

Exceptions for Carrying

There are some exceptions to these carrying laws. Under § 15.2-915, for instance, an individual’s right to carry or store a gun in a locked vehicle is protected. Individuals are also allowed to have such weapons in their own homes, in businesses that they own, or while traveling to or from a shooting range. Collectors and those who participate in the lawful trade of weapons are also allowed to carry them while moving between their homes and places of business, or while leaving or attending gun shows and other permitted sales events.

You may still need a Virginia gun lawyer to go to court with you if you are carrying a concealed weapon with the appropriate permit to ensure your rights are protected. Anyone who does not have a criminal record can apply for this permit. Once you apply, you will need to take a mandatory class unless you already have the required training that is recognized by Virginia. This class will cover gun safety as well as laws and regulations. It will also feature shooting exercises so that you can become familiar with the handgun of your choice. You can take this class with your own handgun, though you cannot carry it until the permit has been issued, or you can rent a gun from the range and then purchase your own later. You cannot legally carry the concealed weapon until you have completed the class and been given the official permit, which you should then carry with the permit as proof for law enforcement officers. Even with this permit, there are places that you cannot carry the gun, such as government buildings and some places of employment.

Law Enforcement Officers

Law officers are allowed to carry weapons both on and off duty. This right is extended under part 7 of subsection B, which is contained within §18.2-308, to law officers who are retired from the agency. Furthermore, those who are retired from similar government agencies, such as the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and branches of the armed forces are also able to carry as they wish. §23-232 gives the right to carry a weapon to some appointed campus police officers at colleges and universities as well.

Exotic Guns

As a Virginia lawyer will confirm, it is lawful to own some exotic weapons, though you may not be able to carry them in the same fashion that you can carry other weapons. For example, possession of a pair of brass knuckles, is restricted under § 18.2-311. This section restricts the carrying, selling, distributing, and bartering of such weapons. Even with a permit for concealed carry, though, you cannot carry brass knuckles. There are no permits for them. Anyone found to be breaking these laws will be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor.

§ 18.2-311.1 applies to any guns that have been altered from their original form and guns that have been made at home. No person can intentionally alter, change or destroy the maker, model, serial number or other identification of a firearm. Anyone convicted of this offense shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A gun lawyer in Virginia should be contacted if you are charged with breaking any gun law to help defend you rights.

Statistics

In 2011, there were 208 murders that involved guns in Virginia. This was a decline of 17 percent from the previous year and the overall drop of 3 percent in the United States. When looked at as a percentage of all murders, firearm murders accounted for 69 percent, while the national percentage was 68 percent. The firearm murder rate for Virginia is 2.58 per 100,000 people. Using this same scale of 100,000 people, the firearm robbery rate was 35.4 and the firearm assault rate was 21.35. The national rates were 39.25 and 43.77, respectively, showing that Virginia is among the safer states as far as gun violence is concerned.

It is important to ask a Virginia lawyer about recent changes to the law. For example, a law was passed in 2010 that made it legal for those with permits to carry concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that served alcohol, something that was previously illegal under state law. The following year, crimes involving guns that occurred in these places actually fell by as much as 5.2 percent. Furthermore, an analysis of the data showed that a small percentage of the incidents that did occur actually involved those who had the permits. Most of the incidents were still happening to those carrying illegally, those who would have been doing so with or without the new law.

If you are being charged with crimes that relate to § 18.2-308, § 18.2-311, § 18.2-279, or any similar sections of the law, assistance from a Virginia gun lawyer is needed. Before the case begins, our lawyers can help you determine your defense and what penalties you could be seeing at the end of the case. They can also assist you in understanding what laws pertain to your case, how those laws should be interpreted, and what violations, if any, were committed. If you were carrying in a legal fashion or with a permit, hire a Virginia gun lawyer to make sure that the charges are defended.

Locations

Laws can differ from city to city. If you are confused about any gun laws within Virginia, contact our firm and we would be more than happy to help you understand what laws apply to which city or county. As Virginia gun lawyers, we are proud to serve the following cities and counties in Virginia:

Alexandria

Violent crimes in Alexandria stand at about two per 1,000 people each year, putting this city into the bottom 33 safest cities in the country. There are far more property crimes than violent crimes, though, so gun offense is not a large concern.

Arlington

When you talk to an Arlington lawyer, you will find that the city is safer than only 33 percent of the cities in the United States. However, it is not one of the most dangerous places to live. There were only 329 violent crimes reported in the last year.

Brunswick

Most gun violations in Brunswick relate to people carrying concealed weapons when they do not have a license to do so, and this can be traced to the ease with which a gun can be purchased without a permit. It also has to do with the confusion of some gun owners, who believed they were carrying in an open, legal fashion when they really were not. However, this has not shown any correlation to murder rates, which are still low.

Fairfax

A Fairfax gun lawyer will point of that, of the 35 violent crimes in the city, none of them related to murder. This indicates that, while crime does happen in Fairfax, there is not much of an issue with gun control and fatalities. Other gun-related crimes occur more often, though some are victimless.

Fauquier

The reduced restrictions on the purchasing of guns have not shown an impact on the amount of gun-related crimes in Fauquier, Virginia. This is in keeping with the trends that are seen in the whole state, which experiences less overall crime than the national average. This could be traced to the fact that many restrictions on concealed weapons are still in place.

Hanover County

Hanover County has the status of being in the bottom 24 percent of the safest places to live in the United States, and a Hanover County lawyer can show you how this is connected in part to gun crimes. However, there were zero reported murders in the last year out of a total of 26 violent crimes.

Loudoun County

You will find that Loudon County enjoys very low crimes rates. Sticking with the trend seen in the rest of Virginia, it has actually seen a decrease in gun-related crimes since new laws were established that allow concealed weapons in bars and restaurants.

Prince William County

While the crime rate in Virginia as a whole has sometimes hit over 28 crimes per 1,000 people, the rate for those same crimes in Prince William County has been lower by about two people out of 1,000. This means that gun crime in this area is lower than the state average and the national average.

Richmond

Richmond is actually known as one of the least safe places to live in Virginia, with a national ranking in the bottom 7 percent. Gun violations have attributed to these numbers, though many are due to things such as brandishing in public, rather than fatalities.

Spotsylvania County

Annual murders in this county tend to be in the single digits, but they do occur. If you are being charged with a crime, hire a lawyer in Spotsylvania County to make sure that the law is upheld correctly and you are given a fair trial. The lawyer can give you the professional advice and assistance that you require during every stage of the trial.

Tidewater

Crime rates in the Tidewater area actually tend to be rather high, making parts of it the most dangerous places to live in the state. If you have been involved in an altercation with the law regarding a crime, look to our Virginia gun lawyers for help.