If you live in Virginia, you may have noticed that the legal rulings surrounding gun ownership and use have been changing significantly. Keeping up with the amended laws can be a challenge, which is why The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge is staying on top of updates to bring you the information you need to know about Virginia’s gun laws.
Updated Gun Laws In Virginia
In April of 2020, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a number of measures into law that aimed to reduce gun violence. This action came in response to the 2019 mass shooting at Virginia Beach, which prompted a state-wide reevaluation of the role of guns and how their sale and use should be regulated or changed, if at all. The regulations put in place by Governor Northam included multiple changes.
Limit On Handgun Purchases
A handgun law has been passed that mirrors a 2012 regulation limiting how often a person can buy a handgun. The rule states that a person is restricted to purchasing only one handgun per month; buying multiple in one month is a class 1 misdemeanor. This initiative was met with resistance when it was first passed, as people believed that it infringed on their constitutional right to obtain firearms by introducing delays, typically by the repetition of a background check.
Background Checks Required On All Sales
All firearms sales in the state of Virginia now require a background check. A loophole in the law previously allowed private sellers to offer guns to buyers without the need for a permit or registration as long as both parties were residents of Virginia. However, this new law closes this loophole and adds greater scrutiny to each transaction.
The Red Flag Law
A Red Flag Law is often referred to under the title of an Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO). An ERPO is in place to allow someone’s family, as well as law enforcement officers and other concerned parties, to petition a court to remove someone’s access to firearms. This most often occurs when someone appears to be a danger to themselves or others or when a family member is concerned about an individual.
Once an ERPO is issued, the person of concern must surrender their firearms to the police for a predetermined amount of time. During this time, the person about whom the ERPO was issued is also not allowed to come into possession of guns, such as by buying them, and may not sell any firearms. The new law in Virginia introduces swift enforcement of the Red Flag Law to protect citizens from those who are not fit to own firearms at a specific time.
Lost or Stolen Guns Must Be Reported
In a new change to the law in Virginia, a person who has had their gun stolen or who finds a firearm missing must report that gun to law enforcement within 48 hours. Failure to do so can result in a civil penalty of up to $250 in fines.
Penalties For Child Who Can Access Unsecured or Loaded Firearms
Virginia has always laid down punishment for individuals who leave unsecured or loaded guns in areas where children can reach them; however, the new law strengthens penalties for such safety violations. Previously, recklessly leaving a loaded firearm in reach of children under the age of 14 was a class 3 misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine. This has been increased to a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying penalties as severe as 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.
Local Government’s Ability To Restrict Guns
The new Virginia law grants city councils the ability to regulate guns and ammunition in government buildings or during certain public events. Cities are in charge of this type of regulation on an individual basis, so standards are not state-wide at this time. Alexandria became the first to limit firearms on certain city property in 2020.
Speak To A Professional Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are a gun owner or are curious about recent gun law changes in Virginia as of 2020, it can be difficult to keep up with the news and the state of current regulations. The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge strive to keep you informed on the latest legal updates to Virginia gun laws.
If you need assistance with a gun law or believe that you have not been treated in accordance with the new regulations when handling or keeping a firearm, do not hesitate to reach out. We are available to discuss your situation with you and help you understand the current regulations. We can work with you to help you achieve the best possible outcome so that you can possess your firearms in accordance with state law. Our criminal defense attorneys are here to help you in any way we can. Call today by phone at (703) 273-5500 to inquire about more information.