Virginia State Law Summary

Posted on January 1, 2012

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Last updated December 9, 2013

In our publication 2013 State Scorecard: Why Gun Laws Matter, the Law Center ranked each state based on a review of state laws in 30 different firearms-related policy areas. Virginia ranked 21st out of 50 – having enacted some gun violence prevention laws.

In 2013, the Virginia legislature enacted new laws that relate to firearms. These new laws are described below.

enacted in 2013

Laws that Weaken Gun Regulation

VA S 1335 Makes concealed weapon permit records confidential.

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Among other things:

  • Firearms dealers in Virginia must contact the Department of State Police (“DSP”) prior to selling a firearm, and DSP conducts a background check on the firearm purchaser.
  • After the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, in which a mentally ill individual killed 32 people and himself with firearms he purchased after passing a background check, Virginia significantly improved its reporting of mental health records to the database used for firearm purchaser background checks.
  • Virginia requires all employees of federally licensed firearms dealers to undergo background checks prior to beginning employment.
  • Virginia imposes some regulations on gun shows.

However, Virginia law does not:

In 2011, Virginia repealed its limitation on handgun purchases to one per person in any 30-day period.

Virginia also imposes only a few restrictions on assault weapons. Local governments in Virginia generally lack authority to regulate firearms or ammunition, and local courts must issue a concealed handgun permit to any applicant who meets basic qualifications.

In 2010, Virginia had the 27th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states. Virginia had the 7th highest rate of crime gun exports among the states in 2009–meaning that crime guns originally sold in Iowa were recovered after being used in crimes in other states at the 7th highest rate among the states. According to data published by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Virginia consistently ranks among the top three interstate suppliers of crime guns. Virginia exports crime guns at a rate more than double the average among the states, and at more than double the rate at which it imports crime guns.

Virginia Firearms Laws

For details about specific firearms laws in Virginia, choose a topic below, or see all of the firearms laws in this state.