The following is a video transcript.

School is out, the vacation time you’ve stocked up is burning a hole in your pocket. Friends and family are making plans to enjoy the nice weather. It’s summertime in Virginia. Before you head to a swimming pool, the beach, lake, or park, make sure you do your homework, especially if your plans take you beyond the borders of the Old Dominion. Remember, every state has different laws and you don’t want to see your gun rights wiped out by a simple mistake.

Common Mistakes

Now let’s look at some common mistakes made by Virginians when it comes to carrying a gun while having fun in the sun. Water parks, summer concerts, and outdoor festivals can be a fun family getaway. These events are usually located on private property and private property owners can ban or prohibit firearms from their property. If you’re given effective notice at the entrance or while you’re within one of these locations, then you must leave the area and secure your firearm before you return.

This also applies if you have been invited by your neighbor to a pool party or outdoor event. If the homeowner personally tells you they are uncomfortable with you carrying a firearm on their property, then you should respect their wishes and either cut your visit short or secure your firearm in a vehicle or your home.

Parks, Rivers, Lakes and Beaches

Now what about public locations like rivers, lakes, or beaches? Virginia is an open carry state, which means that you can open carry a firearm if you are not otherwise prohibited. You can also carry a concealed handgun if you possess a Concealed Handgun Permit or CHP along with proper identification. You must always have your identification if you’re carrying your CHP.

Now what about carrying in local, state, or national parks? All these areas are considered public places under the law. Open carry of a firearm with a concealed carry of a handgun with a CHP and proper identification are generally permitted in these Virginia parks with two exceptions. Exception number one, it is unlawful to carry a firearm into buildings and facilities located within Virginia state parks and national parks.

Exceptions to the laws

Exception two, Virginia Code Section 18.2-287.4 makes it “unlawful to carry a loaded (a) semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol […] with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock or (b) a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds on any public street, sidewalk, public right of way, public park, or any other place open to the public in the cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William.”

Exceptions to the Exceptions

However, this exception does not apply to the following: (1) Any person who possesses a Concealed Handgun Permit, (2) any person actually engaged in lawful hunting or lawful recreational shooting activities at an established shooting range, or shooting contest, (3) law enforcement and (4) licensed security guards or military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties.

Public Places with Gun Restrictions

However, there are areas where gun owners can get burned if they don’t pay attention. National forests, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Lands, and the Army Corps of Engineers properties generally prohibit firearms. The primary exceptions to the national forests and Game and Inland Fisheries Lands prohibitions are for those persons who possess a Concealed Handgun Permit or have their firearm unloaded and cased.

Call U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to your Independent Program Attorney if you have any questions about carrying a firearm while having fun in the sun.