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Thread: VA Open Carry

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    I have studied VAs Open Carry Laws and the gist is: In Virginia, one may carry a handgun in the open with no license. Loaded handguns on the seat or dashboard in plain view while in a vehicle are fine. Carrying concealed in places that serve alcohol is prohibited, even licensed, but open carry there is allowed.

    However, during the Safety Course the instructor specifically told me that if I open carry and someone complains I could be cited for "Disturbing the Peace", also he said I must lock up my firearm in the trunk while traveling in Newport News/Yorktown. Is this true? Can someone please give me the benefit of their wisdom on this topic?

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    Campaign Veteran Dutch Uncle's Avatar
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    Your first paragraph is correct. I have no clear idea why your instructor said you had to put your pistol in the trunk in NN and Yorktown. The Yorktown Battlefield Park is Federal Territory as is the Colonial Parkway, so there, the firearm must be stored away. Otherwise you can carry openly to your heart's content in Yorktown. It's a bit more likely you'll be hassled in NN because the political climate is more urban there. Just the same, I have open carried extensively in both places for about 2 years with no problems at all.

    Disturbing the peace? I think that would be a false arrest, since open carry is NOT ILLEGAL in VA, and you can't be charged with a crime for doing something that isn't a crime, right?

    Check out the numerous threads in this site, and you'll see many references to OC in NN and York.

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    Taclead wrote:
    However, during the Safety Course the instructor specifically told me that if I open carry and someone complains I could be cited for "Disturbing the Peace", ...
    This is the sort of urban legend we hear time and time again from folks who don't open carry but think thay know what happens if you open carry - almost no matter what the state, finding any documentation of such harassment is hard to do, and often such harassment, when it occurs actually helps us clear the air - if open carry is not illegal, then it is legal.

    Some gun owners can be their own worst enemies!

    Open carry is quite common in VA, required in restaurants. If you have a CHP, you have a hedge against a false charge of concealed carry (outside of restaurants). if your conduct is otherwise lawful and you go about your business like a good fella, you'll be fine, and most people won't notice or won''t care.

    There are exceptions - Washington state's law is a bit vague - one criminal case suggests that a handgun openly carried might be a violation of state law if the hammer is back and it is carried in the waste band without a holster (never mind that some handguns are in safe mode with hammer back).

    OK, so word to the wise in WA state - don't open carry without a holster or locked & cocked.

    But remember - "normal" is what people do are are known to do. As open carry spreads in practice, it will spread in acceptance.

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    Is there a way to educate this personthat they are giving false information?

    Maybe have them include OCDO's and VCDL's websitein the classes to farther the education of those taking the class.

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    ...and welcome to the forum Taclead! It's a great place!

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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    I have a question about open carry and concealed carry (with proper permit, of course) on the Dulles Toll Road. Would one be in violation of the law if they had a firearm (handgun), whether open or concealed, driving on theDulles Toll Road? I was told that Washington, D.C. has an agreement with Virginia, which makes Virginia Gun Laws not applicable (and makes Washington, D.C. Gun Laws applicable. I am trying to find out so that Idon't break the law when I go to Ashburn from Springfield, VA to visit my friend.Thanks in advance for your help.

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    On the toll road Virginia law applies so one can carry.

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    Thanks Longwatch. You da man!!! By the way, I will open carry for the first time tonight at the McDonalds on Rolling Road near West Springfield HS. I also conceal carried in Springfield Mall yesterday (first time outside of my car). Give me time to actually venture out to other places. I just don't want to do anything that will land me in jail.I admire what you do on this board. Keep up the good work!

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    Regular Member zoom6zoom's Avatar
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    during the Safety Course the instructor specifically told me that if I open carry and someone complains I could be cited for "Disturbing the Peace",
    This only applies in Virginia if you are carrying on private property and are requested to leave. If you refuse, you may be cited for Criminal Trespass (a misdemeanor). Posted "no guns" signs do not carry any weight of law, but should be a good indicator of what to expect.

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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    Can one OC in a Post Office, FedEx, UPS, or any other place that handles mail in VA?:X

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    FedEx and UPS are just like any other business, and may prohibit by posting signs or by order of management, but are not automatically prohibited. See http://www.thegunzone.com/rkba/rtc-usps.html for an interesting point of view on USPS.

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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    jimwyant wrote:
    FedEx and UPS are just like any other business, and may prohibit by posting signs or by order of management, but are not automatically prohibited. See http://www.thegunzone.com/rkba/rtc-usps.html for an interesting point of view on USPS.
    I read that link before. All it did was leave me still wondering. So, I willmake a"When in doubt" judgement call. I really don't want to go to jail or lose my job. Thanks for your response!:X

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    After reading the argument that Mr. Firriolo has presented, I do carry in my local post office. Most of the employees know me on a first name basis, and I seriously doubt if they would say anything if I were to OC, even if they thought I was in the wrong. However, if a customer noticed and complained, or an over-zealous LEO was to see me, I may very well have a problem. Since I really don't want to be the test case, I make sure that my weapon is well concealed and not printing. As for The UPS Store (they do handle US Mail) and FedEx, I have OC'ed more than once at both with no comments, only a double-take from the kid behind the counter at UPS.

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    Sure wish I lived in Virginia instead of this Anti-2A saturated State of Michigan

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    Regular Member Smurfologist's Avatar
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    SpringerXDacp wrote:
    Sure wish I lived in Virginia instead of this Anti-2A saturated State of Michigan
    SpringerXDacp, just bethankful that you can (at least) carry concealed. H**l, in DC and MD (which I live near), I can't even opencarry or dream about carrying at all in DC (smile)!:X

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    SpringerXDacp wrote:
    Sure wish I lived in Virginia instead of this Anti-2A saturated State of Michigan
    Come on down, we got room...

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    jimwyant wrote:
    FedEx and UPS are just like any other business, and may prohibit by posting signs or by order of management, but are not automatically prohibited. See http://www.thegunzone.com/rkba/rtc-usps.html for an interesting point of view on USPS.
    I've read that material before and can appreciate the sentiment. But, Title 18 isn't the only federal "law of the land" we have to be aware of. There's also the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR.) The part that applies to this question is Title 39 of the CFR, Chapter 1 Part 232, Section 232.1(l) Conduct on Postal Property.
    The link is: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2...39cfr232.1.htm

    And it says, "(l) Weapons and explosives. No person while on postal property may carry firearms, other dangerous or deadly weapons, or explosives, either openly or concealed, or store the same on postal property, except for official purposes."

    Seems pretty clear, so maybe UPS gets all my business that can't be conducted from my home mailbox.

    Disclaimer - I'm not a lawyer. I did have to check a lot of this out when asking for a waiver to carry to a place I used to work. (I didn't get the waiver!)

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    Regular Member zoom6zoom's Avatar
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    Does VA state law enumerate post offices as prohibited areas?

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    zoom6zoom wrote:
    Does VA state law enumerate post offices as prohibited areas?
    Not that I have been able to find, and I have looked, but you may want to do your own search. IANAL

    woodstock - There is an addendum near the bottom of the page in which the gentleman addresses the Title 39 CFR point that you brought up. Check out his argument for that one, too.

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    Yeah, I saw that at the bottom of his page after I clicked "Send", I gotta learn to notice that durn scroll bar!

    But as I said, I tried to sidestep the CFR when I needed a waiver. The security people at the facility I worked at had no sympathy and didn't hesitate to deny my request, even when I pointed out in the CFR that the guy in charge had authority to grant waivers. I didn't want to carry at work, just in the car on the way to and from so I wouldn't be unarmed when I arrived home. I offered to lock it up before entering the gate. As an alternative I asked for a secure locker at the gate; no such luck.

    In the opinion of the feds, the CFR has all the force of law. I certainly won't be the test case! This is one of those debates that'll go on forever, or until someone is prosecuted and the court decides.

    Thanks for the discussion.

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    Is there some way to force a decision on these questions without risking jail? Could I file suit asking the court for an injunction against enforcing some rule that violates my rights?

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    I'm no lawyer, but my lay understanding is that you have to have standing (i.e. your rights violated) before you can file a case.

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    So does being afraid to walk into a post office count?

    What is the mechanism for getting some clarity on these gray areas? I know that state entitys can ask the attourney general for an opinion. How does a common citizen get similar relief without being at risk?

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    Taclead wrote:
    However, during the Safety Course the instructor specifically told me that if I open carry and someone complains I could be cited for "Disturbing the Peace", also he said I must lock up my firearm in the trunk while traveling in Newport News/Yorktown. Is this true? Can someone please give me the benefit of their wisdom on this topic?
    This is a good example of the fact that many gun instructors (like most of the people selling guns in Hampton Roads) don't understand the state laws. When I took my concealed carry class, my instructor stated with absolute certainty that you could not open carry in a city with a population of 160,000 or more. That was based on a gross misinterpretation of the following Virginia Code:

    § 18.2-287.4. Carrying loaded firearms in public areas prohibited; penalty.

    It shall be unlawful for any person to carry a loaded (a) semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock or (b) shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered on or about his person on any public street, road, alley, sidewalk, public right-of-way, or in any public park or any other place of whatever nature that is open to the public (i) in any city with a population of 160,000 or more or (ii) in any county having an urban county executive form of government or any county or city surrounded thereby or adjacent thereto or in any county having a county manager form of government.

    The provisions of this section shall not apply to law-enforcement officers, licensed security guards, military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, or any person having a valid concealed handgun permit or to any person actually engaged in lawful hunting or lawful recreational shooting activities at an established shooting range or shooting contest. Any person violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

    The exemptions set forth in § 18.2-308 shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the provisions of this section.

    Based on the bolded portion of that code, this code does not apply to most firearms that one would open carry. As far as I know, the guys at Bob's still don't believe that the state legislature finally made all of the grandfathered city/county gun laws invalid. The only way to be really sure if there's a state law against something is to go to the source (http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+TOC) and read title 18.2 yourself. On a side note, does anyone here remember which section of the Virginia Code contained the part that got rid of all city/county gun laws?

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    Nevermind, I found it.

    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...0+cod+15.2-915

    § 15.2-915. Control of firearms; applicability to authorities and local governmental agencies.

    A. No locality shall adopt or enforce any ordinance, resolution or motion, as permitted by § 15.2-1425, and no agent of such locality shall take any administrative action, governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof other than those expressly authorized by statute. For purposes of this section, a statute that does not refer to firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, shall not be construed to provide express authorization.

    Nothing in this section shall prohibit a locality from adopting workplace rules relating to terms and conditions of employment of the workforce. Nothing in this section shall prohibit a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101 from acting within the scope of his duties.

    The provisions of this section applicable to a locality shall also apply to any authority or to a local governmental entity, including a department or agency, but not including any local or regional jail or juvenile detention facility.

    B. Any local ordinance, resolution or motion adopted prior to the effective date of this act governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, other than those expressly authorized by statute, is invalid.

    (1987, c. 629, § 15.1-29.15; 1988, c. 392; 1997, cc. 550, 587; 2002, c. 484; 2003, c. 943; 2004, cc. 837, 923.)

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