14 December 2015

Where Can I Carry My Firearm

Virginia, is one of those States which believes that there's not just a right to bear arms, but an obligation (at least where I live).  However, there are places and times when a person is forbidden to carry. Generally, these would fall into two areas of prohibition: private and statutory prohibitions.

The first is fairly straight forward. If a private citizen or organization specifically denies you the right to carry a firearm on its property you cannot carry a firearm on their property. The private citizen or organization would have an obligation to notify you that you cannot carry a firearm on its property, but as a non-governmental entity it has the right to restrict entry. If the private entity posts a "No Firearms Allowed" sign then it has effectively put up a no trespassing sign per Virginia Code 18.2-119. A person who walks into a store or residence past that sign knows she is specifically denied permission to be on the premises with a firearm. Then it simply becomes a matter of status. If her status is that of someone with a firearm she is in a location she is forbidden to be in. Therefore, she is trespassing.

And, before anyone starts screaming 2d Amendment at me in the comments, remember this is an interaction between a citizen and a private entity. The 2d Amendment only applies in dealings between a citizen and the government.

Statutorily, the General Assembly has passed several laws in Virginia which restrict where firearms can be carried. As these impinge on a right guaranteed in the Bill of Rights these should be subject to a strict scrutiny standard. However, the US Supreme Court has flinched away from explicitly stating that this is the standard. In fact, it has created some sort of weird, hybrid standard where citizens are entitled to own and use firearms (1) "in common use" at a set period of time, but only if the citizen does not fall into a certain (2) status (e.g. felon or mentally ill) or possess them in a (3) sensitive place (e.g. schools or government buildings). See District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008). I'm not going to address the first two parts of this test today; instead, I am going to mostly look at those places the Virginia General Assembly has declared by statute to be "sensitive."

A quick survey reveals the following statutes:


18.2-283.1 - It is a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months) for anyone except law enforcement (and the local treasurer?) to carry a firearm in the courthouse. - This makes sense in that there is a lot of emotional conflict in a courthouse and (perhaps most importantly) there is a constant possibility of an armed attempt to free an incarcerated inmate from a known location at a known time.


18.2-308.1 - It is a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months) to carry a firearm onto school grounds, a school bus, or a place where an extracurricular event is occurring. It is a felony with 5 mandatory years in prison if someone takes a firearm into a school building with intent to use it. - Hard to argue that a school isn't a sensitive place from which firearms should not be excluded.

Place of Worship:

18.2-283 - It is a class 4 misdemeanor ($250 fine) to carry a firearm "without good and sufficient reason" into a place of worship while a religious meeting is taking place. - Hmmm. Yes, this is a sensitive place, but also a private place. It seems to me that this should be something that should be decided by whomever makes decisions for a particular place of worship and handled under the trespass rules as laid out above.


18.2-308(J3) - It is a class 2 misdemeanor (up to 6 months) to carry a concealed weapon in a place that serves alcohol if you drink any. - This is actually a mix of location and activity. It does not seem to fit the "sensitive place" restriction particularly well and perhaps is more of a status restriction (person drinking alcohol). It also does not forbid a person openly carrying from having a firearm in a place that serves alcohol.

Airport Terminal

18.2-287.01 - It is a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months) to carry anything which expels a projectile in an airport terminal. - This is obviously both a public and sensitive space.

Certain Cities:

18.2-287.4 - It is a class 1 misdemeanor in public areas in the (a) cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach and in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, and Prince William to carry a (b) rifle or (c) pistol with a magazine of more than 20 rounds and a (d) shotgun which holds more than 7 rounds of its longest round. - This is a mix of the sensitive place element and the common use element. It's hard to argue that all the public areas excluded are sensitive places, so this is really more of a declaration that these firearms cannot be carried because they are not in common use. The problem with that logic is that the firearms are not forbidden everywhere.

These are all the location related bans I found. It is not an exhaustive list of limits on firearm possession and I suspect there may be some more location restrictions squirreled away in parts of the Code outside of Title 18.2 (Virginia's criminal law).


Dan'l said...

Way to go, LOL. Now, the criminals know the best place to go to commit a crime.

I think these kinds of laws are only feel good, the rationale that the 7th Circuit used to uphold semi-automatic rifle bans in Chicago. If I were a criminal (don't worry, I hate violence in general and violent crime in particular), these laws would mean nothing to me but an easier place to commit a gun crime. However, I do believe in violence if absolutely necessary in genuine self-defense.

Piedmont said...

Some notes:
1) CAs can carry in courthouses...probably. I've heard of judges saying that a CA can carry wherever he shall go, but he shall not go in that judge's courtroom if he's got a gun.
2) Cuccinelli issued an AG opinion that fear for one's safety is a "good and sufficient" reason to carry at church. As far as I know, Herring hasn't revoked this, but it's still just an AG opinion. I think it was Cuccinelli who also issued an AG opinion that CAs can have a drink or two while carrying.
3) As I understand it, you can still open carry your rifle with the large magazine...if you have a concealed handgun permit.

Mister DA said...


Any thoughts on the (I assume) new Va concealed carry permit law that has led to a lot of spam like this, https://virginiaconcealed.com/

Ken Lammers said...

Va. Code 18.2-308.06 allows non-residents over the age of 21 to apply directly to the Virginia State Police for a concealed carry permit. Seems like they have to have the same qualifications as a Virginian applicant, except they don't have to send their applications to a Circuit Court. I'm sure this is meant for people who live near and do a lot of business in Virginia, but it is broad enough that some surfer dude in Hawaii could apply.