Conservation Police Officers in Virginia: What You Need to Know

Ed Riley, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for Virginia, says that Conservation Police Officers in the state, in some ways, have more powers than police officers, especially when it comes to their ability to search you, your vehicle, and the area in which they find you, without warrant or arrest. [Read The Full Transcript Below the Video]


Many Law Shield members are also hunters, and in Virginia, the hunting laws are enforced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The Conservation Police Officer, formally known as the game warden, is the individual who enforces the hunting laws in the Commonwealth. There are a few key things that you need to be aware of regarding the authority of a Conservation Police Officer:

– Virginia Code, Section: 29.1-336 requires anyone with a hunting license to carry it with them while they are hunting.

Section 29.1-337 requires you to immediately produce it upon demand from any Conservation Police Officer.

Section 29.1-209 empowers the Virginia Conservation Police Officer to inspect game, without arrest, to determine of bag limits have been observed.

Searches Without a Warrant

This last regulation is significant, because it gives the Conservation Police Officer the power to search you without a search warrant, and without arresting you, which is not typically the case in most police encounters.

It’s important to note that the Conservation Police Officer enforces the hunting laws, but they also have the authority to enforce all other criminal laws of the Commonwealth.

For example, if an individual is hunting and is confronted by a conservation police officer to check their bag limits, that officer can search that person and it may generate violations of the criminal statutes not related to hunting. That officer can then arrest that hunter for those violations if he or she so chooses.

Additionally, if you have been arrested by a Conservation Police Officer, they have the authority to search your person and the area around you for any game that you may have illegally obtained.

Weapon and Vehicle Seizures

They also have the authority to seize your weapon and any potential vehicles that were used in obtaining the illegal game. 

Finally, a Conservation Police Officer has jurisdiction throughout the entire state of Virginia and he can enforce any of the hunting laws throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. There are simply too many to name here, so if you want to get into those in more detail, we suggest you look into Title 29.1 of the Virginia Code. 


Virginia Legislative Update—What Are the Latest Gun Laws?

Virginia Legislative Update transcript

Hi, Ed Riley here again, U.S. LawShield® Independent Program Attorney for Virginia.

Today, we’re going to talk about some of the updates in the law with respect to firearms, that went into effect in Virginia on July 1 of 2017.

virginia legislative update
Independent Program Attorney Ed Riley

First one of those is § 18.2-308.2, which speaks specifically to whether a violent felon or any felon can possess a firearm. The change in that statute allows a nonviolent felon to possess an antique firearm or muzzle loader or up to five pounds of black powder, as long as it’s being used for sporting purposes.

A second area of change involves schools. Typically you cannot carry a firearm in a school. However, this change affects school security officers. And if you look to § 22.1-280.1:2, the main change is that if you are retired law enforcement officer, you can carry a gun, and there’s some other changes that involve training as well.

The third area of change is the concealed handgun permit itself. No longer is it required to have an application done under oath before a notary.

Now you need to have an official form of ID issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia, or it can be the Department of Defense, or a passport. Also changed was that the actual size of the permit shall be the size of Virginia driver’s license, and it may be laminated. Additionally, the change-of-address requirement for the permit has been changed to allow you to fill out a Virginia State Police form and submit that to the court for a re-issuance of the change-of-address permit.

The last area of change to the actual permit process is renewal. If a clerk has an electronic system as part of their renewal process then they may use that electronic system for notice with respect to when renewal can occur.

The final area of change from this session involves people who have had their rights to possess, purchase, or transport a firearm taken away because of mental health issues. These come under Virginia Code Sections § 18.2-308.1:1, :2, and :3. And the specific change is that, if you are an out-of-state resident, you can now petition the general district court where those rights were last removed.


Back to School: Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Virginia


Back to School: Firearms Laws You Need to Know in Virginia

Back to School

As our kids get ready to go back to school, our Independent Program Attorney, Ed Riley explains the laws in Virginia regarding guns and schools.


Hi, Ed Riley, U.S. LawShield Independent Program Attorney for Virginia, and today we’re going to cover issues concerning Campus Carry on universities and lower schools, and firearms.

One of the questions we often get is, “Can I carry a firearm on a university or college campus?”

The answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on whether the university or college campus is public or private. If it’s a private university, they can restrict firearm usage and carry, just like any other private individual or private company. If it’s a public university, then there are certain guidelines and rules that are pretty consistent throughout all the public schools in the state of Virginia that restrict where you can carry firearms, specifically including buildings and most campus events.

Public schools can generally prohibit employees or students from carrying firearms on their grounds. And they can specifically prohibit the individual from bringing firearms into a building or to a school event. But they otherwise cannot generally prohibit an individual not otherwise attached to the school from carrying a firearm on the general open campus or grounds.

Whether it be a public or a private university or college, we highly recommend that you check that university’s or college’s policies before actually carrying a firearm onto their grounds.

Turning to elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools, they are generally governed by Virginia Code Section 18.2-308.1. Specifically, this prohibits guns from about anywhere involving those types of schools.

There are exceptions, however.

Some of the more notable, or what we would suggest are the more important, exceptions would include those events or school-sponsored activities. These events or school-sponsored activities would include law enforcement officers and people that have their guns, that are in closed containers, or on a gun rack unloaded, as well as someone with a concealed handgun permit, as long as they are within the egress or ingress portions of the school, which would include driveways and parking lots.

We cover this topic and many others in our recently published book, Virginia Gun Law, Armed And Educated. Click here to see more or to order.


UT Profs Lose Anti-Campus-Carry Case

Virginia: Can I Use Force Against Someone Burglarizing My Car?


When can I use force against someone burglarizing my car in Virginia?

Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Welcome members and fellow gun owners. In the last Members Voice video, our member Tyler witnessed a criminal breaking into his car. Tyler drew his gun and the bad guys ran away.

The legal questions started pouring in, and members, you wanted to know your legal rights in your state. So here’s your U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney to give you insight on what the law says.

U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Ed Riley:

Hi, my name is Ed Riley, and I’m a U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney for Virginia.

We often get asked “What can I do if I see somebody breaking into my car when it’s in my driveway or on the street near my house?”

The first thing I want to make very clear is that you CANNOT use deadly force or the threat of deadly force to defend personal property such as a car or items in a car.

What we recommend in this situation, is that you call 9-1-1, and get the authorities to your location as soon as possible.

In the event you decide to intercede and approach the bad guy that’s taking your property, you must proceed very cautiously. Virginia does not allow you to commit an offense to defend that property, such as assault and battery or brandishing of a firearm.

The law does allow you to use as much force as reasonably necessary to protect your property, as long as you do not commit such an offense as assault and battery or a breach of the peace.

In the event you decide to intercede and approach the bad guy to defend your personal property, you must proceed very cautiously, because these situations move quickly and you could become the victim of an attack at which point you would be entitled to defend yourself with the use of reasonable force.

If you need to know more about that type of situation, you can view other videos such as these, or our book “Virginia Gun Law Armed and Educated.”

Law Shield Member Ambassador Sherry Hale:

Educating you is the cornerstone of U.S. Law Shield. Thank you for being a part of our family.

As Temperatures Go Up in Virginia, So Does Road Rage

A recent national television report asserted that road-rage incidents are becoming more common and more deadly, with the latest incident taking place in Pennsylvania, in which a man is alleged to have shot and killed a teenage girl during a traffic merge. Click to watch level-headed advice from your Independent Program Attorney about what to do—and what not to do—in these situations.


Hi, my name is Ed Riley, and I’m a U.S. Law Shield independent program attorney for Virginia.

Members will often ask us how to deal with a road-rage situation. In Virginia, what is referenced as road rage is called aggressive driving in the Statute under VA 46.2–868.1. And the specific point of that is behavior that harasses, intimidates, or someway injures another driver.

If you find yourself a victim of an aggressive driver or road-rage situation, our primary advice is to not engage! To find a safe way to get yourself out of that situation.

If you can’t disengage, or the driver that’s exhibiting the road-rage or aggressive driving behaviors will not leave you alone, then it may be necessary for you to make a call to the police through 9-1-1 or a nonemergency number.

Firearm owners will often ask us, in this type of situation, ‘Can I use my gun to scare the individual off that’s exhibiting the road rage or aggressive driving behavior?’ And the short answer is no. No, you can’t. Because that would be brandishing a firearm.

To use a firearm in Virginia, to defend yourself, you have to be in fear of imminent bodily injury or death, so it has to be harm to yourself at that point. Typically, a road-rage or aggressive driving situation, is not going to have enough intimidation or fear to warrant serious bodily injury or death.

We discuss the use of your firearm in justifiable or excusable self-defense in more detail in other U.S. Law Shield videos and in our recently published book “Virginia Gun Law Armed and Educated.”

Quick Thinking, Fast Shooting Prevented Massacre in Alexandria

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son.

Three Capitol Police officers’ quick thinking and fast shooting saved members of Congress from a gunman early Wednesday morning at their baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was wounded in the attack and listed in critical condition a day later at the hospital.

One of the officers, Special Agent Crystal Griner, was wounded in the ankle, said Chief Matthew R. Verdosa.

But Rep. Mike Bishop (R-Mich.) told WWJ Radio in Detroit that the heroic response foiled a massacre.

“The only reason why any of us walked out of this thing, by the grace of God, one of the folks here had a weapon to fire back and give us a moment to find cover,” Bishop said.

Scalise, along with various Republican colleagues, are members of a baseball team that was practicing Wednesday morning at a park on East Monroe Avenue for an upcoming charity game.

Bishop said they all were “sitting ducks” when a gunman approached and sprayed the field with rifle fire.

“We were inside the backstop,” he added, “and if we didn’t have that cover by a brave person who stood up and took a shot themselves, we would not have gotten out of there and every one of us would have been hit—every single one of us.”

Special Agents David Bailey and Henry Cabrera also returned fire, Chief Verdosa said. Alexandria police officers joined the fray, according to a joint press release from police and the FBI.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, was at the practice with his 10-year-old son. He said that he was “very grateful” for the officers’ protection.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.).

“They attacked the shooter (and) that’s what saved our lives,” Barton said.

“The thin blue line held today,” said an emotional U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the team’s coach, at a news conference. “My family and I will be forever grateful.”

Williams, a standout ballplayer at TCU during the 1960s, is the coach of the GOP’s ball team. He came to the press conference on crutches.

The gunman, James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Illinois, was mortally wounded and died at the hospital. He reportedly made far left-wing rants on social media before the shooting.

Post-shooting media coverage swirled with commentary about how political rancor from last year’s presidential election may have fueled the rampage.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), also a member of the ball team and a survivor of the shooting, called for civility.

“The over-the-top, hateful rhetoric that has consumed politics, on both sides, has to stop,” Davis said. “We can have thoughtful debate on the issues, and at times disagree, but we cannot forget that we are all represented by the same flag and the freedom it represents.’’

“Thank God for the Capitol Hill police,” said Matt Kilgo, a program lawyer for U.S. Law Shield of Georgia.

U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team's coach.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, the GOP team’s coach.

“You could tell there was going to be some backlash,” Kilgo said in a Facebook interview with Sam Malone of U.S. Law Shield LIVE. “(But) anything that puts firearms and our Second Amendment rights in proper perspective in the media I think is a good thing.”

“I’m glad it went the way it did and they were able to save as many lives as they did.”

Click here to see the discussion between Kilgo and Malone.

—By Bill Miller, U.S. Law Shield contributor