On July 1, 2016, two new firearms laws went into effect in Virginia making some progress toward keeping weapons out of criminals’ hands. The new laws are a minor step forward despite lifting restrictions on reciprocity involving concealed-weapons permits from other states.
The first law states the holder of a valid concealed handgun or concealed weapon permit or license issued by another state may carry a concealed weapon in Virginia. The Virginia law, however, requires that:
1. The holder of such a non-Virginia license or permit must be at least 21 years old.
2. The permit or license holder must carry a photo identification issued by a government agency of any state or the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of State.
3. The permit or license holder must show that identification to law enforcement officers upon demand.
4. The permit or license holder reciprocity does not extend to persons who previously have had a Virginia concealed handgun permit revoked.
The new law does not require other states recognize Virginia permits in order to have a state’s permits recognized in Virginia.
The second law requires the Virginia State Police to be available at all gun shows to do background checks. The law stops short of making the background checks mandatory but is a step forward in ensuring that guns are transferred only to people who are lawfully eligible to possess weapons.
Private citizen’s participation in these background checks is strictly voluntary. There is an incentive for sellers to have the check done, however, because it documents the seller’s diligence in trying to prevent the illegal transfer of guns.