As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, many parts of the country are experiencing a push to ban firearms from government buildings. A significant portion of this new “outrage” is media-driven opportunism by gun control advocates. To help sort the legal facts from fiction, let’s take a look at how the law plays a role in securing your rights as a law-abiding gun owner.
The Second Amendment ensures the rights of all Americans to keep and bear arms. But lawmakers have differing opinions on how that applies to the Virginia Capitol building and other public lands.
Here’s what you need to know about the past, the present, and the future of legally carrying a firearm on the grounds of our state buildings and other government properties.
Did the Events of January 6 Spark Change in Virginia?
The Virginia Legislature began changing laws surrounding carrying in government buildings prior to the events in Washington, D.C. on January 6. Back in early 2020, the Virginia Legislature’s Joint Rules Committee banned firearms inside the Virginia Capitol building, and in the nearby General Assembly office building. Additionally, since July 1, 2020, localities in Virginia have been able to enact local gun control in specific areas pursuant to Va. Code § 15.2-915. Among other spaces, the areas where localities can restrict firearms include government buildings owned or used by the city; permitted event areas; areas that would otherwise require a permit; and public streets, roads, alleys, sidewalks, or rights-of-way adjacent to permitted event areas (or adjacent to areas where a permit would otherwise be required). Because many localities, including Richmond, have already enacted such ordinances, gun owners should now be cautious that gatherings for events outside government buildings or carrying into a government building may be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Before going to one of these locations, gun owners must determine the laws of the jurisdiction where they will be present.
Should You Be on Alert?
Currently, some Virginia legislators would like to see additional firearms restrictions around the Virginia Capitol building and at every building owned or used by the government in the Commonwealth (instead of leaving that decision up to local jurisdictions). This change is currently proposed in Senate Bill 1381 (SB1381) with a sister bill in the House known as House Bill 2295 (HB2295). While SB1381 has some support, its passing is certainly not a foregone conclusion. Most recently, it has been referred to the Public Safety Committee’s special session. Regardless of whether such restrictions pass this year, gun owners must remain vigilant, as the trend in Virginia seems to have the legislature proposing additional firearm restrictions with every legislative session.
Stay active in the firearms community. The ability to petition the legislature and speak to elected officials has a long history in Virginia. While recent laws have curtailed this ability for law-abiding gun owners, the attempts to further restrict our rights are not over. Consider joining the Virginia Citizens Defense League (or “VCDL”) email list for notifications regarding changing laws in Virginia.
For any questions about carrying in and around government buildings, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney.
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