Virginia has weak gun laws overall, earning a D in our Annual Gun Law Scorecard. Virginia does, however, prohibit individuals subject to final domestic violence restraining or protective orders from possessing firearms and require gun dealer employees to be subject to a background check. In 2017, Virginia had the 19th-lowest gun death rate in the country and exported crime guns to other states at the 12th-highest rate. To save lives from gun violence, Virginia legislators could require a background check and waiting period before all gun purchases, enact an extreme risk protection law, and increase funding for community violence intervention programs.
State Law Background
Among other things, Virginia law does not:
- Require a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm between unlicensed individuals;
- Require firearms dealers, purchasers, or owners to obtain a state license;
- Regulate the transfer or possession of 50 caliber rifles or large capacity ammunition magazines;
- Require firearm owners to report lost or stolen firearms;
- Impose a waiting period prior to purchase of a firearm; or
- Regulate unsafe handguns (“junk guns” or “Saturday night specials”).
In 2011, Virginia repealed its limitation on handgun purchases to one per person in any 30-day period.
Virginia law does include the following provisions, among others:
- 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.
Virginia also imposes 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 2017, Virginia had the 19th lowest gun death rate among the states. Virginia also supplied crime guns to other states at the 12th highest rate among the states. Virginia exported crime guns at nearly twice the national rate and nearly three times the rate at which it imported crime guns from other states.
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.