Many people mention the Second Amendment, but if you ask them to quote it, only a handful would be able to. Here is the exact text of the second amendment:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
This has been interpreted by courts throughout the years, and each interpretation helps to define exactly what the amendment means. This amendment provides a limited right to possess firearms. The right is “limited” because it is a right that can be lost in certain circumstances, and it does not apply universally to all types of firearms.
Concealed Weapon Law in Virginia
Virginia has a number of laws that pertain to firearms. But the most commonly charged crime is Carrying a Concealed Weapon under Va. Code Section 18.2-308. This statute makes it illegal to possess any one of many kinds of weapons with it being concealed. In addition to firearms, it is also illegal to conceal and carry: most knives, nun chucks, throwing stars, and any weapons “of like kind” as those. This law has an exception in that anyone with a Concealed Handgun Permit may carry a handgun concealed. But even with that permit, it is still illegal to conceal and carry any of the other types of weapons in this statute. This law also does not apply when you are at your home or in your own yard, near your home.
The Carrying a Concealed Weapon criminal charge has many other exceptions and defenses. In addition to the exceptions in the law itself, any police officer who charges you with this crime must have strictly abided by the Fourth Amendment before searching you or seizing your weapon.
Open Carry in Virginia
In Virginia, anyone who is legally able to possess a firearm, may openly carry it. Open carrying means that the firearm is carried in such a way that any casual observer would be able to see it and identify it as a gun. Before open carrying a firearm, there are a few points to consider:
- If it is illegal for you to possess a firearm (for example, if you are a felon), then it is still illegal for you to open carry a firearm.
- Open carry might make you a target. If your goal is self-defense, becoming a target might be counter-productive.
- You will be noticed. Law enforcement officers cannot detain or arrest you merely because they see a firearm openly carried. However, a good rule of thumb for staying out of trouble with the police is not drawing attention to yourself and openly carrying a firearm will make you worth noticing to police, who may then observe or follow you with the idea that they will see some other wrongdoing and be able to detain you, arrest you, or seize the gun.
For all of those reasons, you might want to consider not openly carrying your gun, even though you do have a legal right to do so. If you qualify for one, you can get a concealed carry permit and carry your handgun however you like.
Defense Attorney for Carrying a Concealed Weapon in Virginia