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Firearm Guidelines for the State of Virginia

The state of Virginia has specific guidelines regarding the legal purchase of firearms. The first step is to answer pertinent questions in the Firearms Purchase Eligibility Test. This information gathering tool asks questions concerning your background, and whether you have ever been involved in the commission of a felony either as a minor or as an adult. If there is an outstanding protective or restraining order alleging abuse or domestic violence, or if you use any form of illegal or controlled substance, it will count against you obtaining a firearm. Dishonorable discharge from the Armed Forces can also hinder someone from getting a firearm.Firearm guidelines

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A sound mental health history must also be determined prior to the purchase of a firearm. Then, there are the questions of age, citizenship, and whether an individual is a nonimmigrant alien or has renounced citizenship in this country. If a person answers yes to any of the questions in the Eligibility Test, they may be prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm according to state or federal law.

If an individual meets all of the state and federal requirements, the proper and legal acquisition of a firearm may be achieved in the state of Virginia without much interference or difficulty.


If You are Denied:

If you are denied the purchase of a firearm and wish to pursue your rights you can contact the FBI to have your denial reviewed as well as fingerprint comparison and to request any correction if a felony record needs to be corrected. A copy of a criminal record from another state other than Virginia can be acquired by submitting a direct request to that state authority, and any necessary amendment or correction should be handled through said state. If your rights have been restored under both state and federal law you may still be eligible to purchase a firearm.


Concealed Handgun Permits in Virginia


Resident Concealed Handgun Permits:

Residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia may apply for a five year concealed handgun permit, in writing, through the clerk of the circuit court in the city or county in which they reside. The resident must be at least 21 years old in order to apply, and must pass a background check which is generally conducted by the local police department. In addition to the written application and the background check, a resident applying for a concealed handgun permit must provide a certificate of competency with a handgun. In order to satisfactorily prove competency with a handgun a resident may choose from various training options. Several of the most commonly available options include completing an approved hunter education or safety course, completing a National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course, or completing a firearms safety course taught by a state certified or National Rifle Association Certified firearms instructor.


If a resident’s application for a concealed handgun permit is denied, he or she has several options to appeal the denial.  First, the resident has 21 days after the denial to request an ore tenus hearing before the circuit court. In addition to the ore tenus hearing, or as an alternative to the ore tenus hearing, a resident may file a petition for review within 60 days of the expiration of time for requesting the ore tenus hearing or within 60 days of the entry of a final order after an ore tenus hearing. Such a petition must be filed with the Court of Appeals, and the decision of the Court of Appeals judge is final.


For more information on the resident concealed handgun permit, application process, and disqualifying factors you can see the Virginia State Police website:


Nonresident Concealed Handgun Permits:

Nonresidents of the state of Virginia can also apply for a five year concealed handgun permit. However, nonresidents must apply to the Virginia State Police. In addition to the requirements that a resident must meet, a nonresident must also submit appropriate photographs and a properly completed fingerprint card for the background check processes.

If a nonresident application for a concealed handgun permit is denied, the individual may contact the Firearms Transaction Center to discuss the determination and potentially provide additional information to assist in obtaining approval. If that course of action does not satisfy the nonresident, he or she may appeal the denial to the Superintendent of State Policed within 30 days of the denial.


More details about the nonresident application and process can be found on the Virginia State Police website:


Revocation of Permits:

Whether a resident or nonresident, if you are found to be disqualified after the issuance of a permit, the concealed handgun permit will be revoked and the individual must return the permit after notification of the disqualification.


Permit Reciprocity and Recognition:

The state of Virginia will extend reciprocity to any citizen holding either resident and nonresident permits or licenses with states that have entered formal written agreements for reciprocity. Virginia has formal reciprocity agreements with the following states:

  • Alaska
  • Pennsylvania (does not recognize Virginia Nonresident permits)
  • Florida  (does not grant reciprocity to Virginia nonresident permit holders)
  • South Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • South Dakota
  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • North Carolina
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio

Virginia has informal reciprocity agreements with the following states:

  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • Arkansas
  • Nebraska
  • Indiana
  • North Dakota
  • Idaho(enhanced license only)
  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas
  • Utah
  • Louisiana
  • Wyoming
  • Michigan

Virginia will grant recognition to valid permit holders from the following states, however these states may not recognize Virginia permits:

  • Delaware
  • Minnesota
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Because of the ever-changing legal framework around concealed handgun permits, permit holders should always double check reciprocity status before traveling outside of Virginia with a firearm. Nonresident permit holders should be especially cautious, being sure to contact any reciprocal state prior to carrying in that jurisdiction to ensure reciprocity for nonresident permits.

The state of Virginia is welcoming to the legal possession and carrying of a firearm to citizens as part of the fundamental right to bear arms. However, this is a right that should not be taken lightly, and anyone who plans to carry a firearm should be sure that they are legally permitted to do so, and that they are proficient with the firearm they intend to carry. For further information regarding the legal purchase of a firearm or the regulations governing conceal and carry in the state of Virginia, you can visit the Virginia State Police website or contact them with questions.


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