A Heavy Load: Carrying a Long Gun in Virginia

The following is a video transcript.

Today we are going to discuss carrying a loaded long gun and how this might get us in trouble.

Generally speaking, in Virginia, so long as you are over 18 years of age and not otherwise prohibited from possessing a firearm, you can open carry a long gun, meaning a rifle or shotgun with a barrel length of over 16 inches or over 18 inches, respectively, and an overall length of at least 26 inches.


However, specific prohibitions apply, namely in two areas: The first is long gun carry in a vehicle. While this too is generally legal, so long as the weapon is open and apparent, Virginia Code 15.2-915.2 allows municipalities and localities to prevent the carry of loaded long guns in vehicles on public roadways and highways. A violation carries a fine of not more than $100, although it is a defense to the charge if the individual charged “reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business.”


More likely to get people in serious trouble is carrying a loaded assault weapon without a valid Concealed Handgun Permit in the cities of: Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach, or in the counties of: Arlington, Fairfax, Enrico, Loudon, or Prince William. An “assault weapon” in Virginia is any semi-automatic centerfire rifle or pistol that is equipped at the time of the offense, with a magazine capable of holding more than 20 rounds of ammunition, or is designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock.

Certain shotguns also may be prohibited in Virginia, namely semi-automatic shotguns with folding stocks and drum magazines that are capable of accepting 12 or more rounds of ammunition. A violation of this law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2,500.

If you have any other questions about the carry of long guns in Virginia, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.

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