Gun legislation is a fast-moving policy space these days, so it can be challenging to keep up with the ever-changing laws. The year 2020 saw some new rules come into effect and some new proposals in Virginia, and some are friendlier than others from a gun owner’s perspective. Citizens need to know what’s new and how their gun rights are affected.
Gun owners have various reasons for wanting a firearm, including hunting, personal safety, and competition – and various laws cover every one of those interests. Knowing the federal regulations isn’t good enough, either. Gun laws vary greatly from state to state, and if you have your gun somewhere you shouldn’t, it could cost you your freedom.
There’s never a gun control law that makes everyone happy, but it’s important to stay abreast of new developments, no matter what side of the fence you’re on. This guide will walk you through all the new Virginia gun laws and how they will affect you in 2021.
New Gun Legislation That Passed in Virginia
Several new pieces of legislation passed in 2020 could have lasting effects on your gun rights in Virginia. The legislature took an ambitious approach and passed some significant new restrictions, including:
The Extreme Risk Protective Order, or “red-flag law,” is considered by many to be the most controversial of all the new legislation in recent years. It says a person can be separated from their gun if a judge deems them to be a threat to themselves or others. It also obstructs the purchase and transfer of firearms under those circumstances. There is no required notification, and the confiscated weapons can be held for up to 14 days. This law follows other states across the country that have put similar laws in place, and some advocates are pushing for passage at the national level.
Handgun Purchase Limits
Virginia residents may only purchase one handgun per month, according to state law Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-308.2:2(R), unless special circumstances apply. Violating this law is a Class One misdemeanor.
Lost or Stolen Gun Reporting
Another new law states that any gun owner who does not report their gun lost or stolen within 48 hours can be charged a $250 fine.
It is now a Class One misdemeanor to leave a child under age 14 around an unattended firearm in Virginia. It was previously a Class Three. The penalty for a Class One misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Local Government Restrictions
Authorities can ban guns or ammo in any government building and public area if they deem it necessary as a safety measure, including parks and places where a permitted event is being held.
No Online Testing
Virginians can no longer take an online test for a permit to concealed carry a handgun, as previously allowed. That must be done in person as of July 1, 2020.
Background checks are now required for all gun sales in Virginia, even for private sales, which is a change from previous law. This law closes a loophole that lets two private Virginia citizens engage in a firearm transaction without requiring a background check.
Some of these are significant changes to the rights of Virginia citizens, while others are minor. Not every new gun law is a big change or necessarily bad news, but they are all important to be aware of if you live in Virginia or ever pass through.
Gun Legislation That Did Not Pass in Virginia
Many other gun laws were proposed but didn’t pass. One reason for that is the sheer number of bills, according to Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City), who voted with Republicans to kill the ban on sales of assault weapons.
Assault Firearms Ban
SB16 (2020) focused on banning the sale or transport of assault firearms.
HB961 sought to prohibit the “sale, transport, etc., of assault firearms, certain firearm magazines, silencers, and trigger activators.”
Reciprocity Agreements Changes
HB569 would have allowed the state attorney general to cancel reciprocity agreements with other states under certain conditions and reduce the number of other states that would recognize a Virginia concealed carry permit.
Those that didn’t pass may make a comeback in a different form, or they may go away for good. It’s best to familiarize yourself with them so you can see them coming.
Anti-Gun Proposals Still Pending
It has yet to be seen whether any of the failed bills will come back to haunt the citizens of Virginia. Several anti-gun bills have been filed for the current session, including:
This would make it a crime to own a firearm, or part of one, that did not have a registered serial number.
This would ban firearms in state-owned parking lots, Capitol Square, and surrounding areas.
This would allow any school board in Virginia to ban firearms on any school property.
These filings may or may not come to fruition. Any that do pass may look similar to how they are currently worded or be changed almost completely.
Future Federal Proposals
The Gun Violence Prevention and Community Safety Act of 2020 (HR 5717) is something gun owners in the U.S. have to keep an eye on. HR 5717 puts heavy restrictions on guns without serial numbers, requires that weapons trafficking be a standalone crime, and requires law enforcement notification on background check denials.
Staying abreast of current and emerging gun laws ensures you always know your rights and what’s expected of you so you can stay on the right side of the law or advocate for change. It isn’t easy to keep track of it all, even for the most diligent gun owner.
Your Source of Professional Training for Concealed Carry Permits
Changing laws and new ones on the horizon can confuse anyone. Concealed Coalition provides online and local concealed carry training programs to help current and future gun owners qualify and apply for permits in Virginia and know the existing laws.
Our certified trainers can also give you active shooter training, a class in firearm safety, or some tips on basic situational awareness. Contact Concealed Coalition today to discuss your concealed carry permit educational needs.