Have you heard about the Virginia gun control laws? Today, let's take a deep dive into what these laws state. After all, ignorance is not an excuse!
Virginia Gun Control Laws | What You Should Know About Them
This month in Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam signed multiple gun control measures into law. The laws were proposed in the wake of the mass shooting at Virginia Beach in May 2019 that killed 12 people and injured 4 others.
Governor Northam calls the legislation “common sense laws” that will make communities safer and save lives. Northam has consistently fought for increased gun control measures during his time as governor.
Five bills were signed into law and carry penalties ranging from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.
SB70 is identical to HB2 and makes background checks a requirement for all firearm purchases and transfers.
This includes firearms purchased at shows and those transferred privately between two citizens. Background checks are permitted to take up to three days to complete.
Selling or transferring a firearm without a background check will now be a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
This bill creates a procedure that can separate an individual from their firearms for up to 180 days using the terminology, “a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others.”
An Emergency Substantial Risk Order can be issued in general district court, circuit court, or juvenile and domestic relations district court.
The initial Emergency Substantial Risk Order will last for 14 days, but extensions can be applied for up to 180 days.
During this time, the person who has had their firearms seized by law enforcement cannot purchase, possess, or transport a firearm. They are disqualified from having a concealed handgun permit and cannot be employed by a firearms dealer.
Anyone who supplies a firearm to a person with a warrant or who is the subject of a substantial risk order is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies in Virginia come with a prison sentence of 2-10 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
This bill also creates a registry to record all prior substantial risk orders issued.
Purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period is now a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. There are still exceptions; those include:
- People with an enhanced background check that have been issued a certificate by the Department of State Police
- Law enforcement agencies and officers
- Licensed firearms dealers
- State and local correctional facilities
- Licensed private security companies
- Those in possession of a valid VA concealed handgun permit
- Those whose handgun has been lost or stolen, or someone trading in a handgun
- Purchases of handguns in private sales, or antique firearms
HB9 requires reporting of a lost or stolen firearm within 48 hours of discovering it lost or stolen. The report must be made to the Department of State Police, who will then report to the National Crime Information Center.
Failure to report can result in a fine of $250.
This law increases the penalty for recklessly leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm in the presence of a child under the age of 14 years old. Previously a Class 3 misdemeanor carrying a fine of up to $500, the penalty is now increased to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
In 2019, Virginia ranked #31 on Guns and Ammo’s Best States for Gun Owners list. Major legislation was defeated last year prior to the Virginia Beach shooting. Governor Northam immediately ramped up gun control efforts after the shooting on May 31, 2019.