With the upcoming election, we at U.S. Law Shield thought it important to remind our members of their state laws regarding firearms and polling places. We turned to U.S. Law Shield of Virginia Independent Program Attorney Mitchell Wells of Riley & Wells Attorneys-At-Law for his input.
Here is what Wells has to say:
“Virginia has no specific law prohibiting firearms in polling places. However, that does not mean that you can carry your firearm into just any polling place. There are exceptions to the rule.
“Virginia law prohibits bringing firearms and other weapons into certain polling places, such as:
1) public, private, or religious elementary, middle, or high schools and extending to the building and grounds of these institutions;
2) courthouses; and
3) any private property location used as a polling place with an owner-established policy restricting or prohibiting the presence of weapons.
“The prohibition on carrying or possessing firearms in these locations is pursuant to the Code of Virginia, but is summarized in Chapter 13.3.2 of the General Registrars and Electoral Board Members Handbook (GREB) published by the State Board of Elections.”
“Furthermore, even if your polling place is not one of the types listed as a prohibited location for carrying firearms, you may still be removed from the polling place if you are acting in a manner to intimidate, hinder, or interfere with a qualified voter so as to prevent them from voting.
“You may also be removed from the polls if you are acting in a ‘noisy or riotous’ manner so as to disturb the election or insult or abuse an election officer.
“Va. Code § 24.2-607 is the specific Virginia statute that addresses this conduct and the authority of the election officials.
“If an election officer feels you are violating the law, he or she has the authority to ask you to stop the offending behavior. If you don’t, a majority of the election officers can order that you be arrested by law enforcement.
“While open carry at the polling place is not unlawful, there is a possibility that it might create a fuss with those that do not know the law or misapply the law. So, if you decide to carry a firearm into the polling place, then make sure you are mindful of others and that you do not speak or act in an intimidating, noisy or riotous manner. Just cast your vote and leave.”
Your 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed simply by exercising your right to vote – but may be by the outcome.