Gun laws effective TODAY - July 1, 2020

A bit of a long read, but worth the knowledge to protect yourself!!!

The bills are ranked more or less by descending importance/relevance:

SB240,HB674, "Red Flag" or Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO)


A law-enforcement officer or Commonwealth Attorney can petition a judge or a magistrate for an Emergency Substantial Risk Order if there is probable cause to believe that a person is a risk to themselves or others in the near future.  The petition shall be made under oath and shall be supported by an affidavit.  Law enforcement must have done an investigation to determine that probable cause does exist.  The judge shall consider various additional evidence, such as recent acts of violence, force, or threats.

If issued, the ESRO shall contain information notifying the subject that he cannot possess, transport, or purchase any firearms for the duration of the order.  The subject is also required to relinquish his CHP, if he has one, and he is to voluntarily turn over any firearms in his possession to law enforcement.  The subject will get an inventory from the law-enforcement agency of any firearms that are turned over.  If the officers have probable cause to believe that the subject has not turned over all his guns, they can then get a separate search warrant from a judge.

When served, the subject will be given the ESRO, the petition, and the affidavit.

A maximum of 14 days can transpire between the time the subject is served the ESRO and when he is to appear in court to contest the order.  This may be extended by the subject if he has a good reason to do so.  It cannot be extended by the Commonwealth.

The subject can have a lawyer present at his hearing, but none shall be provided by the Commonwealth if he can't afford one (too bad for the poor people).  

If the subject is found not to be a threat, his guns will be returned after 5 days,if the subject makes a written request to get them back and includes a copy of the firearm inventory that he was given by law enforcement when he turned over his firearms.  If the guns are not requested to be returned within 120 days, they can be destroyed.

If the subject is found to be a threat, the police can hold his guns or they can be turned over to a third-party who does not live with the subject, is 21 years old or older, is not prohibited from possessing firearms, and appears in court in person.  That transfer must happen within 5 days.

Law-enforcement and Commonwealth Attorneys are not civilly or criminally liable for getting or not getting an ESRO.  Law-enforcement is also not responsible for anything that happens to your guns when in their custody.

The penalty for lying to a police officer to get an ESRO is a mere Class 1 misdemeanor.  It should be a Class 6 felony, at least.


1. The original bill required a search warrant to be issued automatically for any firearms in the possession of the subject of the ESRO.  So the police would effectively raid the ESRO subject's house and search it for firearms.  That kind of raid is what has cost citizens in other states their lives.

The final bill gives the subject of the ESRO the option to voluntarily turn over all the firearms in his possession, without being served a search warrant.  A search warrant is only issued if the police haveprobable causeto believe the ESRO subject did not voluntarily turn over all of his firearms.

2. The original bill required the police to give the subject of the ESRO a copy of the order and nothing else.

The final bill requires the police to give the subject of the ESRO a copy of the ESRO order, the petition for the order (from the police or the Commonwealth Attorney), and the supporting affidavit.  This gives the ESRO subject important information about why the ESRO was issued and who asked for it.

3. The original bill did not allow for a continuation of the ESRO hearing, even if the subject of the ESRO had a good reason to delay the hearing - such as looking for a lawyer or being physically unable to be present at the hearing, etc.

The final bill does allow for a delay in the hearing if the subject has a good reason to delay the hearing.  The Commonwealth cannot delay the hearing.

SB35, HB421, local government gun-control


Allows local government to control carry, possession, transport, and storage of firearms in government buildings, parks, recreation and community centers, and at permitted events, including adjacent streets.  All areas with such restrictions must have signs posted at each entrance, exit, point of egress, or point of ingress.

NOTES about the original bill:

The original bill would allow localities to control all aspects of the possession, carry, transport, and storage of guns and ammunition.  Fox example, open carry and/or concealed carry could have been banned in the entire locality!  Or hollow points bullets could have been banned, etc.  There were no signage requirements to warn you, either.

The final bill specifies where localities can control the possession, carry, transport, and storage of guns and ammunition to any building (or the parts of a building the locality is using), local parks, local recreation or community centers, and streets or sidewalks that are in a permitted event area or are adjacent to that area.  All types of areas with such restrictions must have signs posted at each entrance, exit, point of egress, or point of ingress.

SB70HB2, Universal Background Checks


Private sales, where a gun is sold in exchange for money, goods, services, or anything of value, must go through a background checkeffective July 1.  A gun given as a gift with nothing in return, or loaned to someone, does not require a background check.  For a sale, the buyer and purchaser must go to a gun dealer, or, at a gun show, the Virginia State Police background-check table, and have the transfer and background check completed.  The gun dealer can only charge $15 for the transfer, maximum.  That limitation could make it hard to find a dealer willing to do the transfer, as they usually get $25 and up currently.


1. A person under 21 and over 18 will only be able to receive a handgun if they are given that handgun as a bonafide gift.  They will not be able purchase a handgun from anyone because federal law prohibits gun dealers from transferring a handgun to anyone under 21.  Private sales of handguns to those under 21 is allowed currently, but after July 1 dealers have to do the transfer, closing that avenue.

2. You might want to consider doing a private sale or purchase at a gun show using the Virginia State Police (VSP) to do the background check.  When the VSP do the background check, they don't record the make, model, and serial number of the firearm, unlike sales through gun dealers, who have to do so.  Also, unlike gun dealers who can decide not to do any private transfers, the VSP has to do them at gun shows.

3. The original bill required a background check on gifts to non-immediate family, a gun loaned to someone unless the loan was temporary and the gun owner was continually present near the firearm.  So, loaning a gun to someone if you weren't with them the whole time would have required a background check on them before you loaned the gun, and on you when they gave the gun back.  A violation for the seller would have been a Class 6 felony and a Class 1 misdemeanor for the purchaser.

The final bill requires a background check only to the sale of a firearm, with a violation being a Class 1 misdemeanor for the seller and purchaser.

SB71, Firearms; possession on school property


Both child day centers and public, private, or religious preschools are treated the same as K-12 schools when it comes to firearms and other weapons on their property, except the restrictions only apply during the child day center or private or religious preschool hours of operation.  The restrictions apply 24 hours a day for public preschools.  There is also an exception to firearms kept in a residence on the child day center or private or religious preschool grounds if the firearms stay in the residence.


1. The original bill restricted firearms 24 hours a day for all child day centers and preschools and had no provision for someone with a residence on the property.

2. This law is going to be extremely tricky for churches which have day centers or preschool on their property.  Where exactly is the line drawn between the day center/preschool property and the church property for purpose of possessing a firearm?  How would the parking lot be divided and what about other common areas, such as hallways?  How do you know if the preschool or day center is operating before entering the area while armed?  The one firewall is that the law requires that you commit a violation knowingly. The Commonwealth is going to have to prove you knew where the boundaries are (good luck to the Commonwealth on that one) and you knew the day center or preschool was operating.  I predict the Commonwealth is going to find it extremely difficult to enforce this poorly thought-out law on church property.

SB69,HB812, One Handgun a Month


Pretty much is the same as the old One Handgun a Month law back in 2012, when it was repealed.  A person can only buy one handgun in a 30-day period,unless he has a CHP, is a law-enforcement officer, the firearm is an antique, he is replacing n irretrievably lost or a stolen handgun (with police report), he is trading one handgun for another handgun (but that can only be done once a day), or he is doing a curio and relics purchase.  There is a provision to apply to the Virginia State Police, under oath, for a certificate to purchase more than one handgun in a 30-day period.  You must indicate the number of handguns you plan on purchasing and complete the purchase within 7 days.


The original HB812 did not exempt CHP holders.

HB1083, allowing minors access to a loaded firearm


The penalty for recklessly leaving a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger a child under the age of fourteen is raised from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 1 misdemeanor.


The original bill raised the age to under eighteen and made a violation a Class 5 felony.

SB263, HB264, training for a concealed handgun permit - online option removed


After January 1, 2021, applicants for new concealed handgun permit will no longer be able to get training online.  Anyone who got such training before January 1, 2021, that training is valid and will be going forward.


The original bill would have also eliminated any NRA certified instructors from teaching CHP classes, too!  That would have eliminated the vast majority of training options available to new CHP applicants, raising the cost and making such training hard to find.

SB479, HB1004, possession of firearms while a protection order is in effect prohibited


A person who is subject to a permanent protective order (a person has had his day in court and lost on a temporary protective order) must sell or transfer their firearms to either 1) law enforcement, 2) a gun dealer, or 3) a person who is not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.  Such sale or transfer must occur within 24 hours of being served with the protection order.  Within 48 hours, the subject must certify in writing to the Clerk of Court that all firearms have been sold or transferred.  Failure to do so constitutes contempt of court.  Law-enforcement agencies are exempt from civil or criminal liabilities for damage or loss of guns they are holding.


The original bill made the willful failure to turn over a certification that all firearms have been sold or transferred a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The final bill makes that failure a contempt of court charge, instead of a misdemeanor crime.  The contempt of court charge only lasts as long as the subject refuses to turn over the certification that he sold or transferred all of his firearms.  Once the certification is provided, the subject is released from the charge.

SB64, Paramilitary activities


A subject commits a Class 5 felony if he brandishes a firearm, or object of similar appearance, while assembled with one or more persons for the purpose of and with the intent to intimidate any person or group of persons.


To be convicted under this statute, the subject needs to have brandished a firearm, or a firearm lookalike, while assembled with one or more other persons.  The Commonwealth also has to prove the group assembled with the purpose and intent of intimidating someone.

The original bill merely required that an assembled group of people drilling, parading, or marching with firearms be doing so with the intent of intimidating someone.  Just seeing someone with a gun intimidates some of the more excitable people out there.

SB593, HB600, storage of firearms in family day homes


During hours of operation, firearms in a licensed family day home shall be stored in a locked container, compartment, or cabinet, all all ammunition shall be stored in a separate locked container, compartment, or cabinet.  The key or combination to the storage areas shall not be accessible to children.  Local government may make these rules more strict.


The law says how firearms shall be stored.  It appears, but no guarantee on this, that if you are not storing the firearm, but are lawfully carrying it on your person, that is allowed.  It is only if you decide to store the firearm instead of carrying it that you must store it in the manner required.

SB436, Virginia Voluntary Do Not Sell Firearms List


After July 1,2021, a person, 18 years or older, may voluntarily put their name on a "do not sell firearms" list, which would then prohibit them from purchasing a firearm.  Attempting to do so would result in a Class 3 misdemeanor for the person on the list and a Class 1 misdemeanor (!) for the person selling them a gun.  You must provide a photo ID.

A person on the list can request to be removed from the list, but it takes at least 21 days before they can purchase firearms again.

It is illegal to inquire if a person is on the list for purposes other than to determine eligibility to purchase, possess, or transfer a firearm.  It is unlawful for a person to provide false information for the purpose of putting another person on or taking them off the list.  It is also unlawful to discriminate against a person for employment, or other purposes, if their name is on, or not on, the list.


VCDL had concerns with this.  Once the person's name is added to the NICS system, how can Virginia have the name removed from that federal system?  If they can't, then the prohibition will be permanent.  Also, if a person is fraudulently put on the list, they still can't get their gun rights restored for 21 days!

HB9, Reporting lost or stolen firearms


Once a person discovers they have lost a firearm or one has been stolen, or they are informed by someone with personal knowledge of the loss or theft, the person has 48 hours to notify local law-enforcement or the Virginia State Police of such loss or theft.  If a person fails to do this, they can be charged a civil fine of up to $250.  A person who reports such loss or theft in good faith is not to be held civilly or criminally liable for any damages from acts or omissions resulting from the loss or theft.


In the original bill, the time to report the loss or theft was only 24 hours.

SB543, mandatory background checks at gun shows


This bill simply clarifies the Universal Background Check law at gun shows.  All private firearms sales of firearms at gun shows must go through a background check done at the Virginia State Police table.

HB1080,  furthering restrictions on who can protect children at school using a firearm


Special conservators of the peace are no longer authorized to carry on K-12 school grounds.  It also says that school boards cannot authorize anyone to carry on school grounds other than those classes of people specifically listed by statute as authorized to carry a gun on school grounds.


1. This bill is clearly not about school safety.  Now there are less people in a position to protect children at school.

2. Funny how the Democrats think that local government should be able to control firearms, but they don't want local school boards to do the same thing.  Yet another in a long list of double standards and foolishness.

SB684, restoration of firearm rights for those with mental health issues


If a person loses his gun rights due to a commitment following a temporary detention order and he appeals, his rights cannot be restored by the appeals court if he is no longer showing symptoms of mental illness.  He can be freed from the lower court's commitment, but he will have to go through the regular process to get his gun rights restored by the lower court.

SB14, bump stocks are banned


Bans bump stocks.  They are already banned federally.  VCDL has a lawsuit still active to overturn the federal ban.


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