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What are the Gun Laws in Virginia?

Machine Guns, "Sawed Off" Shotguns and Rifles, Miscellaneous


Machine Guns

A machine gun is defined as a weapon that shoots or is designed to shoot, automatically without manual reloading more than one shot by a single function of the trigger.

Possession of a machine gun for an aggressive or offensive purpose is prohibited.

All machine guns in the state must be registered within 24 hours of acquisition with the Department of State Police.

A presumption of possession for an offensive or aggressive purpose is raised by:
  • A failure to register.

  • Possession by a person who has been convicted of a crime of violence.

  • Possession elsewhere than on one’s premises owned or rented for permanent residence or business occupancy.

  • When empty or loaded shells for the machine gun are found in the immediate vicinity.

This law does not prohibit or interfere with any machine gun registered with the State Police, that is possessed for scientific purposes, or not usable as a weapon and possessed as a curiosity, ornament or keepsake or possessed for a purpose manifestly not aggressive or offensive.

"Sawed Off" Shotguns and Rifles

A "sawed-off" shotgun is defined as any weapon loaded or unloaded, originally designed as a shoulder weapon, utilizing a self-contained cartridge from which a number of ball shot pellets or projectiles may be fired simultaneously from a smooth or rifled bore by a single function of the firing device and which has a barrel length of less than 18 inches for smooth bore weapons and 16 inches for rifled weapons. Weapons of less than .225 caliber shall not be included.

A "sawed-off" rifle is defined as a rifle of any caliber, loaded or unloaded, which expels a projectile by action of an explosion and is designed as a shoulder weapon with a barrel or barrels length of less than 16 inches or which has been modified to an overall length of less than 26 inches.

Possession of a "sawed-off" shotgun or "sawed-off" rifle is unlawful except for the following purposes:
  1. Possession for scientific purposes, or possession of a "sawed-off" shotgun or "sawed off" rifle not usable as a firing weapon and possessed as a curiosity ornament or keepsake, or the possession of a "sawed-off" shotgun or "sawed-off" rifle in compliance with federal law.

  2. The manufacture for, and sale of, to the military or law enforcement or to penal institutions, provided that every manufacturer or dealer shall keep a register of all "sawed-off" shotguns and "sawed-off" rifles manufactured or handled by him or her. The register shall keep a full description of the person to whom delivered or from whom it was received.

  3. No registered "sawed-off" shotgun or "sawed-off" rifle may be transferred without the registrant notifying the Superintendent of State Police, in writing, of the name and address of the recipient.


  • It is unlawful to discharge a firearm in or across any road, or right-of-way, except at an approved firing range.

  • It is unlawful to discharge any firearm in any public street or in any place of public business or public gathering, except to protect life or property, or unless otherwise authorized by law.

  • It is a crime to maliciously discharge a firearm within an occupied building in such a manner to endanger the lives of the occupants or to maliciously shoot at or maliciously throw any missile at or against any dwelling or other occupied building whereby the lives of the occupants are placed in peril.

  • If the act is unlawful, but not malicious, the person shall be guilty of a lesser category of crime. If a person willfully discharges a firearm within, or at, a school building, occupied or not, he or she shall be guilty of a felony.

  • It is unlawful to set a spring gun or a set gun or other firearm that is discharged by a trip wire or similar device.

  • It is unlawful to sell, furnish or give a toy gun (other than a cap pistol) if it can discharge a blank or ball charge by means of powder or other explosive.

  • It is unlawful to remove, deface or alter any serial number, maker’s name or other identifying mark on any firearm.

  • A mandatory penalty of 3 years for a first offense, and 5 years for a subsequent offense, is provided as a separate and consecutive felony offense for using or displaying a firearm during the commission of certain violent felonies and drug offenses.

  • A person ineligible to possess a firearm who solicits, employs, or assists another person to purchase a firearm, or a person who purchases more than one firearm with the intent to transfer to an ineligible person, shall be sentenced to a mandatory minimum term of 5 years.

  • It is unlawful to hunt with a firearm while under the influence of an intoxicant or narcotic drug.

  • A person with a concealed carry handgun permit may hunt lawfully while carrying their concealed handgun as long as they have their permit with them.

No locality shall have the authority to bring suit against a firearms or ammunition marketer, manufacturer, distributor, dealer, seller, or trade association for damages, abatement, injunctive relief or any other remedy resulting from or relating to the lawful design, marketing, manufacture, distribution, sale, or transfer of firearms or ammunition to the public.

The right to bring any such action is hereby reserved exclusively to the Commonwealth.

Any action brought by the Commonwealth pursuant to this section shall be brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the Commonwealth. This shall also apply equally to any state governmental entity, including a department, agency, or authority.

1. "Assault firearm" means any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which is equipped with a magazine which will hold more than twenty rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock.

Sources: VA. CODE ANN. §§15.2-915; 15.2-915.1; §18.2-279 through 281; §18.2-283 through 286; §18.2- 288 through 293.1; §18.2-295; §18.2-299 through 303.1; §18.2-308; §18.2-308.1:1 through 308.1:5; §18.2- 308.2:01; §18.2-308.2:1 and 308.2:2; §18.2-309 and 10; §18.2-311.1
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