Citation(s) from the GunPolicy.org literature library
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 2021 ‘Concealed Carry in Virginia.’ Guns in Public. San Francisco, CA: Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. 13 April
Concealed Weapons Permitting in Virginia
Virginia allows a person to carry a concealed handgun if he or she has a permit.
Virginia is a "shall issue" state, meaning that the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides must issue a concealed weapons permit if the applicant meets certain basic qualifications. More specifically, Virginia law provides, in part, that "[a]ny person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides…for a five-year permit to carry a concealed handgun."
Virginia law requires the court to consult with either the sheriff or police department of the county or city where the applicant resides and receive a report from the Central Criminal Records Exchange. However, Virginia law only requires the applicant to submit to fingerprinting "if required by local ordinance …."
Under a law that Virginia enacted in 2010, the court may authorize the clerk to issue a permit without judicial review, to applicants "for whom the criminal history records check does not indicate a disqualification and, after consulting with either the sheriff or police department of the county or city, about which there are no outstanding questions or issues concerning the application." The 2010 law also states that only a circuit court judge may deny issuance of a permit.
Virginia law disqualifies any person from obtaining a permit who:
- Is prohibited from possessing firearms for mental health reasons under federal law;
- Has been acquitted of a crime by reason of insanity unless he or she was discharged from custody more than five years ago;
- Has been adjudicated legally incompetent or incapacitated unless his or her competency or capacity was restored more than five years ago;
- Has been involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility, ordered to mandatory outpatient treatment, or the subject of a temporary detention order who agrees to voluntary admission to a mental health facility, unless, in the case of involuntary admission, he or she was released more than five years ago;
- Has been convicted of a felony, has a felony charge pending, or is under age 29 and was found guilty as a juvenile at age 14 or older of an act which would be a felony if committed by an adult under federal law or the laws of any state;
- Has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the last five years (with certain exceptions);
- Has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging a firearm in a public place, or brandishing a firearm within the last three years, or has such a charge pending;
- Has been convicted of stalking, or has such a charge pending;
- Is subject to a restraining order or protective order against family abuse or to protect the health and safety of any person;
- Has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting within the last five years;
- Is an alien other than an alien lawfully admitted for permanent resident in the U.S.;
- Is a fugitive from justice;
- Was discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions;
- Is addicted to, or is an unlawful user or distributor of marijuana, synthetic cannabinoids, or any controlled substance (or who has been convicted of possession of such a substance within the last three years, including where judgment of guilt is deferred pending a probationary period);
- Has been convicted of drunk driving or of public drunkenness within the last three years, or who is a "habitual drunkard"; or
- Has been found "likely to use a weapon unlawfully or negligently to endanger others" based on a sworn statement by local law enforcement (based on their personal knowledge, or that of another competent person).
In addition, Virginia law states that a concealed handgun permit holder convicted of being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs while carrying a concealed handgun in a public place shall have his or her permit revoked and shall be ineligible to apply for a new permit for five years.
Firearm Safety Training
Virginia concealed weapon permit applicants must provide proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun by one of the following:
- An approved hunting or firearms course;
- Evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm; or
- Proof that the applicant previously held a license to carry a firearm in Virginia, unless such license has been revoked for cause.
In 2009, Virginia enacted a law allowing concealed weapon permit applicants to fulfill this requirement with an electronic, video, or online course conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor.
Duration & Renewal
Virginia permits to carry concealed handguns are valid for five years. Permit holders "shall be issued" a renewal permit by submitting a new application, unless the permit holder has become disqualified for a permit under the categories listed above. Renewal applicants are not required to appear in person and the application for the new permit may be submitted via mail.
Disclosure or Use of Information
A law enacted in Virginia in 2009 requires the State Police to withhold information about permits and permit holders from public disclosure. The law allows disclosure:
- To law enforcement agencies and officers for law enforcement purposes;
- Of records by the State Police concerning permits issued to nonresidents; and
- Of statistical summaries, abstracts, or other records containing information in an aggregate form that does not identify any individual permittees.
Virginia law also states that concealed weapons permit applications may be destroyed at the discretion of the clerk of each circuit court after 10 years. Fingerprints taken as part of a concealed handgun permit application may not be copied, held or used for any other purposes. Upon completion of the criminal history records check, the State Police must return the fingerprint cards to the submitting local agency or, in the case of scanned fingerprints, destroy the electronic record. All fingerprint cards not claimed by the applicant within 21 days of notification by the local agency must be destroyed.
Virginia law states that a valid concealed handgun permit or license issued by another state shall be valid in Virginia, so long as:
(i) the issuing authority provides the means for instantaneous verification of the validity of all such permits or licenses issued within that state, accessible 24 hours a day; and
(ii) the requirements and qualifications of that state's law are adequate to prevent possession of a permit by persons who would be denied a permit in the Commonwealth under this section.
The Superintendent of State Police, in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, determines whether states meet the requirements and qualifications of Virginia law. The Superintendent also must maintain a registry of such states on the Virginia Criminal Information Network, and make the registry available to law enforcement officers for investigative purposes. The Superintendent of State Police may also enter into agreements for reciprocal recognition with any qualifying state…
[Editor's note: The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence regularly updates its webpages with new data as US gun regulation evolves state by state. For the most up-to-date information on US gun laws, please refer to the Giffords URL below]