The following is a video transcript.
There are various areas of Virginia gun law that are often misunderstood.
Myth Number One: Self-Defense and the Castle Doctrine
One of the most commonly misunderstood areas of Virginia gun law is how you are permitted to defend yourself or others if you come under attack while in your home.
Many states have a law which is commonly referred to as the Castle Doctrine. Many people think that the Castle Doctrine means you can legally shoot any stranger or intruder you find in your house. That is not the case in Virginia, and to do so could likely be a use of excessive deadly force and result in criminal charges.
In Virginia, there is no statute that defines the Castle Doctrine, but what is important to note is that Virginia law does not require you to retreat if assaulted in your house or on the curtilage of your home. You may stand your ground and use such means as are absolutely necessary to repel your assailant from your house, or to prevent your attacker’s forcible entry.
Myth Number Two: Carrying a firearm in your vehicle.
Another area of Virginia gun law that is commonly misunderstood deals with firearms and vehicles. If you were going to carry a firearm in a vehicle, then you need to be aware of Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.
This is an extensive statute that has many moving parts. The important thing to remember is that it is illegal in Virginia to carry your concealed firearm in a vehicle.
However, as you would expect, there are many exceptions.
- The first exception is having a concealed handgun permit. You can carry a handgun concealed if you have that permit and carry the permit with you, along with proper identification.
- The second exception under 18.2-308 is Section C8. This section allows anyone who can lawfully have a handgun to carry it in a vehicle as long as it is properly secured in a container or compartment.
- A couple of the other important exceptions include when you are transporting a firearm to and from certain approved locations such as a firing range, as long as the firearm is unloaded and securely wrapped.
Myth Number Three: Brandishing a firearm.
Brandishing of a firearm is also a commonly misunderstood area of Virginia gun law. Virginia Code Section 18.2-282 prohibits the holding, pointing, or brandishing a firearm where it reasonably induces fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured.
What a lot of people believe is that they don’t violate this statute if they don’t literally point the firearm at somebody. However, in Virginia, that is not the law.
If you point the firearm at someone it is a violation of the statute, but it is also against the law to hold or brandish a firearm with the intent to induce fear. Brandishing can be simply revealing a firearm that is in your waistband or inside your coat, for example.
Call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney if you have any questions about Virginia gun law.