If Santa Brings You a Gun… | Virginia

The following is a video transcript.

If you or someone you know receives a firearm as a gift this Christmas holiday, how can you stay on the right side of the law? While we have previously discussed the legality of gifting firearms, today we will discuss your responsibilities when receiving a firearm as a gift.

Who Gave You the Gift? Resident vs. Non-Resident

If you (a resident of Virginia) receive the firearm from a resident of a different state, you cannot take immediate possession of it. For example, if you are in Pennsylvania visiting your uncle’s family and he gives you a new Smith & Wesson M&P, you cannot take it home.

If someone wants to give you a firearm, but the giver is not a Virginia resident, they must ship it from one Federal Firearms Licensee (“FFL”) to another FFL in your state. In addition, you should always check the laws of the originating state regarding firearms as gifts to see if ordinary requirements apply.


So, as long as the gift was legal, there is no registration requirement in Virginia, with the exception of National Firearms Act items. If you are lawfully able to possess a firearm and the gift was not in fact a straw-man purchase, you do not need to register the firearm.

Traveling with Your New Firearm

So, what do you need to know about gifts made in Virginia? Even leaving a Christmas party with a new gun can be an issue in Virginia. You may take a long gun such as a rifle or shotgun home in your vehicle, but you must keep the long gun unloaded.

What if you receive a new handgun for Christmas and you do not have a Concealed Handgun Permit? You cannot just throw the gun in your car and go. Virginia law contains an exception for taking a new handgun home from the place of purchase, so long as it remains unloaded in the manufacturer’s original package.

However, there is no such exception for taking a gifted handgun home from a relative’s house. If you receive a handgun as a gift while in someone else’s home in Virginia and you do not have your Concealed Handgun Permit, you can still lawfully transport the handgun. However, the gun must be in your latched center console, latched glove box, or another latched secured container in your vehicle. Carried in this condition you may even lawfully transport your new handgun loaded.


Finally, don’t forget to consider storage. Make an immediate plan for safe storage of the weapon if you receive one. Be certain not to leave the weapon where it is accessible to children.

Have a happy and safe holiday season. If you have a loved one who gives you a gun for Christmas, treat them extra well, all year- round. If you have any other questions, call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

Interested in knowing more? Check out our previous articles “Can I Gift a Gun?,”  “Can I Go to Jail for Gifting a Gun?,” and “Giving Guns as Gifts: Doing It Right.”

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