Frequently Asked Questions
Are firearms registered in Virginia?
With the exception of machine guns, firearms are not registered in Virginia.
What is the legal age to purchase or possess a firearm?
A person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun from a licensed firearms dealer. To purchase a handgun from a licensed firearms dealer, you must be at least 21 years of age, pursuant to federal law. For statutory regulations concerning underage persons possessing firearms, refer to Virginia Code Section18.2-308.7, possession or transportation of certain firearms by persons under the age of eighteen.
What is the legal age to purchase ammunition?
Virginia law does not address age requirements for the purchase of ammunition. Federal law requires an individual to be at least 21 years of age to purchase handgun ammunition, and at least 18 years old to purchase rifle or shotgun ammunition.
What are the laws concerning the private sale of a handgun?
To privately sell a firearm, it is recommended that you safeguard information pertaining to the transaction such as the date the firearm was sold, the complete name and address of the buyer, and the make, model, and serial number of the firearm. The seller and buyer of a handgun must be a resident of the state in which the transfer occurs. Should the firearm ever be located at a crime scene, trace of the firearm will determine the licensed dealer who last sold the firearm and will identify the last buyer of the firearm. To have your name removed from this process, you may consider placing your firearm on consignment with a licensed dealer. This will also ensure that the firearm is transferred only to a lawfully eligible individual.
Why was my firearms purchase application placed in a status of delay?
The criminal history record information check required prior to the purchase of a firearm in Virginia is accomplished by a name check in conjunction with the purchaser's race, sex, and date of birth. It is not unusual for a "hit" response to occur upon query the national and state databases due to similar or exact personal descriptors of the prospective purchaser and those listed on an arrest record. When this occurs, review is necessary to determine if the prospective purchaser may be the same individual contained in these files, as well as lawful eligibility if probable identification is determined.
Does one have to have U.S. citizenship to be eligible to purchase a firearm?
A buyer who is a lawful permanent resident alien the United States may purchase firearms in the Commonwealth of Virginia pursuant to the same identification and residency requirements as a citizen. Prohibitions apply, however, to "any alien in the United States in a non-immigrant status" with certain exceptions and a waiver process. Contact the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives if you have questions about these regulations.
Are law enforcement officers subject to the background check when purchasing firearms?
Law enforcement offices are not exempt from the federal misdemeanor crime of domestic violence disqualification and therefore, must consent to a background check when purchasing firearms. The exception to this requirement is the purchase of a duty weapon from a licensed firearms dealer on behalf of an Employer’s Certification Letter.
Are military personnel considered residents or nonresidents for the purpose of a concealed handgun permit?
Active military personnel, 21 years of age and older, assigned to a Virginia duty post or the Pentagon may apply for a Virginia resident permit, which are issued by the circuit court of the county or city in which the applicant resides. Virginia Code Section 18.2- 308.02 (B.5.) authorizes current military service to be considered proof that the applicant has demonstrated competence with a handgun.
In the instance of a traffic stop, should I advise the police officer that I have a concealed handgun permit?
Virginia law does not require you to notify the officer that you have a permit. However, Section 18.2-308.01, of the Code of Virginia, requires you to be in possession of the permit whenever you are carrying a concealed handgun and to display the permit and a government-issued photo-identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer.