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Thread: What constitutes "loaded" when a gun is in the trunk/locked case of my vehicle?

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    Smile What constitutes "loaded" when a gun is in the trunk/locked case of my vehicle?

    Please Read First: If you want to argue about whether carrying a rifle in your vehicle is a good idea, please proceed directly to the General Discussion forum and start your own thread. I may even join you there. This thread is meant to discuss and clarify VA code and case-law. Unfortunately, the previous thread dealing with this was locked and, IMO, it was locked for good reason. Perhaps we could discuss that in the Forum Rules section.
    -------------------------------------

    So I've heard people tell me they do this. I'm not certain I will ever do this, but I'd like to know what the law (code and case-law) has to say about it in Virginia.

    I have a rifle, for the moment, let's say it's your grand-pa's Elmer-Fudd, bolt-action, detachable box-magazine-fed rifle. This rifle, including its magazine, will accommodate exactly 8 rounds for center-fire rifle ammunition. I want to ride around the great Commonwealth of VA with it in my trunk or some locked case, outside of immediate reach of the driver or passenger.

    It should be legal to have a long-gun in your trunk: http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/18.2-308.HTM only applies to weapons "about his person" so if it isn't accessible, you're good.

    Carrying loaded long-guns is generally legal except for *some* counties:
    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+15.2-915.2

    To me, the question is when is a gun (this could be ANY gun, pistol, etc) loaded in VA, legally speaking? I'll even take a Federal ruling if you have one!

    I would lock the rifle in my trunk, unloaded (action open, let's say). I will then hide the gun inside the trunk so when I open it, no one can tell the rifle is in there. I will then load a magazine and place it on the other side of the trunk, also hidden from common observation.

    I appreciate the help looking this up in advance. I look forward to a good discussion about the law as it stands in Virginia.

    Thanks guys

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Two problems here.

    First OCDO is primarily concerned with OC of normal handguns, properly holstered. Lengthy discussion of long guns is discouraged - there are other sites for that.

    Second is that rules/ordinances on long guns are frequently controlled by hunting laws including but not limited to state laws and agency rules - local laws play a part too. Preemption is not total.

    Generally, it is best to transport long guns unloaded and if in the passenger compartment, very visible i.e. NOT behind the seat in a PU.

    In a gun rack (open), cased or in the trunk are considered OK. Loaded and accessible may be prima facia evidence of hunting.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Two problems here.

    First OCDO is primarily concerned with OC of normal handguns, properly holstered. Lengthy discussion of long guns is discouraged - there are other sites for that.

    Second is that rules/ordinances on long guns are frequently controlled by hunting laws including but not limited to state laws and agency rules - local laws play a part too. Preemption is not total.

    Generally, it is best to transport long guns unloaded and if in the passenger compartment, very visible i.e. NOT behind the seat in a PU.

    In a gun rack (open), cased or in the trunk are considered OK. Loaded and accessible may be prima facia evidence of hunting.
    Just to answer his question as best as I can Grape, I think the legislature figured everyone knew Loaded from unloaded. They have never had to spell it out with one exception.

    Muzzle loaders are considered unloaded if there is not a cap on the nipple (percussion).

    The only person I know of that's ever been charged with having a loaded long arm in the truck was surprisingly enough, an undercover agent working for US Fish and Wildlife.

    I usually have a rifle, shotgun or both in the truck and they are always loaded. I don't go to any of the forbidden cities/counties except for an occasional trip through Richmond.

    I have no idea if the ammo touching rule in Richmond is fact or an Urban Legend. It wouldn't surprise me if it is true or at least was at some time.
    Richmond also has an ordnance making it illegal for anyone under 16 to have a crossbow.

    This id from DGIF. Where they got the definitions is anyone's guess.

    "Loaded firearm" is defined as a firearm in which ammunition is chambered or loaded in the magazine or clip, when such magazine or clip is found engaged or partially engaged in a firearm. The definition of a loaded muzzleloading firearm will include a firearm which is capped, or has a charged pan, or has a primer, or battery installed in the firearm.
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...clands.asp#wma

    Last edited by peter nap; 07-19-2010 at 02:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Two problems here.

    First OCDO is primarily concerned with OC of normal handguns, properly holstered. Lengthy discussion of long guns is discouraged - there are other sites for that.

    Second is that rules/ordinances on long guns are frequently controlled by hunting laws including but not limited to state laws and agency rules - local laws play a part too. Preemption is not total.

    Generally, it is best to transport long guns unloaded and if in the passenger compartment, very visible i.e. NOT behind the seat in a PU.

    In a gun rack (open), cased or in the trunk are considered OK. Loaded and accessible may be prima facia evidence of hunting.
    I see your point but:
    One of the main reasons people (i.e. myself) come to this board is that there is no better place to discuss the law, it's letter, its judicial interpretation, and it's enforcement. I (and many others here) regard this as a benefit of the rules set in place on OCDO, which I respect. It would be unfortunate, to say the least, if we could not use this forum to its greatest effect.

    To quote the applicable rule: "KEEP IT ON-TOPIC: This is not a general discussion web site - even the thread for "general discussions" must be fairly related to open carry, firearms and gun rights. Please police your own posts before posting them and help keep OCDO strong and focussed."

    My question is related to guns and Virginia specifically. Therefore, it is on-topic.

    Grapeshot, I think you mentioned (on the previously closed thread) that Richmond might have a local (in your opinion illegal/unenforceable law claiming the mag touching the gun makes it loaded:
    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+18.2-287.4
    Insofar as a cite for City of Richmond saying it is loaded if ammo/magazine is touching the gun - I do NOT think so - preemption applies here - if they have such a law on the books, it is unenforceable.
    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...0+cod+15.2-915
    Do you have any more information? Is this a Richmond judge's ruling? Is it a Richmond/Henrico ordinance?

    Thanks in advance for all the help.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Peter Nap made the original reference to a possible Richmond ordinance of magazine touching the gun - which he attributes more likely to urban legend.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Just to answer his question as best as I can Grape, I think the legislature figured everyone knew Loaded from unloaded. They have never had to spell it out with one exception.

    Muzzle loaders are considered unloaded if there is not a cap on the nipple (percussion).

    The only person I know of that's ever been charged with having a loaded long arm in the truck was surprisingly enough, an undercover agent working for US Fish and Wildlife.

    I usually have a rifle, shotgun or both in the truck and they are always loaded. I don't go to any of the forbidden cities/counties except for an occasional trip through Richmond.

    I have no idea if the ammo touching rule in Richmond is fact or an Urban Legend. It wouldn't surprise me if it is true or at least was at some time.
    Richmond also has an ordnance making it illegal for anyone under 16 to have a crossbow.

    This id from DGIF. Where they got the definitions is anyone's guess.

    "Loaded firearm" is defined as a firearm in which ammunition is chambered or loaded in the magazine or clip, when such magazine or clip is found engaged or partially engaged in a firearm. The definition of a loaded muzzleloading firearm will include a firearm which is capped, or has a charged pan, or has a primer, or battery installed in the firearm.
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...clands.asp#wma

    Thanks Peter. Nice find.
    Now if I hadn't been burned before, I would just take this as final. DGIF's website says that Fairfax has no "firearms discharge" prohibition, which it does.

    Because of that, I searched around on LIS and didn't find anything backing this up. My next step is to ask DGIF unless someone here can find something :-)

    Thanks in advance guys.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcfanvt View Post
    Thanks Peter. Nice find.
    Now if I hadn't been burned before, I would just take this as final. DGIF's website says that Fairfax has no "firearms discharge" prohibition, which it does.

    Because of that, I searched around on LIS and didn't find anything backing this up. My next step is to ask DGIF unless someone here can find something :-)

    Thanks in advance guys.
    You need to go to here and look for the ordnance:
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...-ordinances.pf it isn't here, it isn't enforceable


    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+15.2-915.2

    § 15.2-915.2. Regulation of transportation of a loaded rifle or shotgun.
    The governing body of any county or city may by ordinance make it unlawful for any person to transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road, or highway within such locality. Any violation of such ordinance shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $100. Conservation police officers, sheriffs and all other law-enforcement officers shall enforce the provisions of this section. No ordinance adopted pursuant to this section shall be enforceable unless the governing body adopting such ordinance so notifies the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by registered mail prior to May 1 of the year in which such ordinance is to take effect.
    The provisions of this section shall not apply to duly authorized law-enforcement officers or military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, nor to any person who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business.

    Reading your post, my reply just concerns transportation. Discharging is another issue and other than the authority of localities to regulate discharge by ordnance, you won't find much outside of the ordinance itself.


    .
    Last edited by peter nap; 07-19-2010 at 03:20 PM.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    You need to go to here and look for the ordnance:
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...-ordinances.pf it isn't here, it isn't enforceable


    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp...cod+15.2-915.2

    § 15.2-915.2. Regulation of transportation of a loaded rifle or shotgun.
    The governing body of any county or city may by ordinance make it unlawful for any person to transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road, or highway within such locality. Any violation of such ordinance shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $100. Conservation police officers, sheriffs and all other law-enforcement officers shall enforce the provisions of this section. No ordinance adopted pursuant to this section shall be enforceable unless the governing body adopting such ordinance so notifies the Director of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by registered mail prior to May 1 of the year in which such ordinance is to take effect.
    The provisions of this section shall not apply to duly authorized law-enforcement officers or military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties, nor to any person who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business.


    .
    Now there is a step child that a mother can love.

    Just found Peter's exception.
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Now there is a step child that a mother can love.

    Just found Peter's exception.
    Don't say it too loud or everybody will have a rifle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Don't say it too loud or everybody will have a rifle.
    Is that the sound of distant thundar approaching?
    You will not rise to the occasion; you will fall back on your level of training.” Archilochus, 650 BC

    Old and treacherous will beat young and skilled every time. Yata hey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    You need to go to here and look for the ordnance:
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...-ordinances.pf it isn't here, it isn't enforceable

    ...

    Reading your post, my reply just concerns transportation. Discharging is another issue and other than the authority of localities to regulate discharge by ordnance, you won't find much outside of the ordinance itself.
    Thanks for that Peter. For some reason, that link got corrupted, but I found a better one:
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...ordinances.pdf

    This is unfortunately the same link that I consulted before an unfortunate realization that this wasn't complete.

    Fairfax 2, 25, 45
    2. No rifles larger than .22 for hunting.
    25. No hunting with firearms of game species from within 100 yds. of a road.
    45. All rifles, pistols, or shotguns loaded with slugs prohibited for any hunting.

    Fairfax County has laws that contradict this list.
    http://library1.municode.com:80/defa...infobase=10051

    So I am hesitant to trust the DGIF listing.

    Does anyone have any knowledge of VA Case-Law? Has User been on this board recently?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ufcfanvt View Post
    Thanks for that Peter. For some reason, that link got corrupted, but I found a better one:
    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/hunting...ordinances.pdf

    This is unfortunately the same link that I consulted before an unfortunate realization that this wasn't complete.

    Fairfax 2, 25, 45
    2. No rifles larger than .22 for hunting.
    25. No hunting with firearms of game species from within 100 yds. of a road.
    45. All rifles, pistols, or shotguns loaded with slugs prohibited for any hunting.

    Fairfax County has laws that contradict this list.
    http://library1.municode.com:80/defa...infobase=10051

    So I am hesitant to trust the DGIF listing.

    Does anyone have any knowledge of VA Case-Law? Has User been on this board recently?
    I haven't seen him for a while but unlike some of us he doesn't post much unless he has something to say.

    If you look at his profile, he has his email and web page listed. He's always been very prompt in getting back to me.

    It's also extremely wise to consult him. He's one of the truly dependable lawyers I know.

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    Regular Member Thundar's Avatar
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    I Seem to Remember an old stupid Richmond Law. It really used to upset me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Peter Nap made the original reference to a possible Richmond ordinance of magazine touching the gun - which he attributes more likely to urban legend.
    IIRC Richmond embellished its ordinance with a definition of loaded that included ammunition touching the gun. Stupid, but hey that is Richmond.

    It really upset me in 2006, as my KelTec SU-16, which I consider a great Open Carry gun, and which fit well in my rifle rack, was legal everywhere except Richmond. I always carry the two 10 round mags loaded and stored in the butt of the gun (1 mag AP and one tracer).

    Can't find the old law any more, it was revised in 2007.

    Thundar
    Last edited by Thundar; 07-19-2010 at 04:48 PM. Reason: spelling
    He wore his gun outside his pants for all the honest world to see. Pancho & Lefty

    The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us....There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! ...The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come …………. PATRICK HENRY speech 1776

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thundar View Post
    IIRC Richmond embellished its ordinance with a definition of loaded that included ammunition touching the gun. Stupid, but hey that is Richmond.

    It really upset me in 2006, as my KelTec SU-16, which I consider a great Open Carry gun, and which fit well in my rifle rack, was legal everywhere except Richmond. I always carry the two 10 round mags loaded and stored in the butt of the gun (1 mag AP and one tracer).

    Can't find the old law any more, it was revised in 2007.

    Thundar
    This is the current statute Thundar. I can't find any older ones but for a while they were on a Holy Crusade against guns. That's funny because when Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, etc...Judges wouldn't issue CWP's, Richmond judges would no matter where you lived.

    Sec. 66-353. Transporting loaded shotgun or rifle.
    (a) It shall be unlawful for any person to transport, possess or carry a loaded shotgun or a loaded rifle in any vehicle on any public street, road or highway. Violations of this section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $100.00.

    (b) This section shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or to military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties nor to any person demonstrating a reasonable belief that such rifle or shotgun is necessary to ensure personal safety in the course of employment or business.

    (Code 1993, § 20-160)

    State Law References: Similar provisions, Code of Virginia, § 18.2-287.1.


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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    Legislative agenda.

    I feel we need to try and get everywhere this is found in law:

    (b) This section shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or to military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties nor to any person demonstrating a reasonable belief that such rifle or shotgun is necessary to ensure personal safety in the course of employment or business.

    Changed to this:(b) This section shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or to military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties nor to any person demonstrating a reasonable belief that such rifle or shotgun is necessary to ensure personal safety.

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    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    I feel we need to try and get everywhere this is found in law:

    (b) This section shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or to military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties nor to any person demonstrating a reasonable belief that such rifle or shotgun is necessary to ensure personal safety in the course of employment or business.

    Changed to this:(b) This section shall not apply to duly authorized law enforcement officers or to military personnel in the performance of their lawful duties nor to any person demonstrating a reasonable belief that such rifle or shotgun is necessary to ensure personal safety.
    Good thought Joe but how long do you think that would last in Marsh's committee?

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    I would be exceedingly happy if we could just get all levels of government in the US to recognize the fact that "self defense" is indeed an "otherwise lawful activity!"

    So much for that "right to life..." stuff that this country was literally built on.

    TFred

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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator ed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    He's one of the truly dependable lawyers I know.
    I agree and also use Mark@VaGunLawyer.com.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    A couple thoughts:

    1) Since the penalty is a fine not more than $100 if I felt the need to keep a loaded rifle/shotgun in my car for whatever reason I could live with a fine every blue moon. Of course I would drive within the law to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I would fear misdemenor or felony charges not fines.

    2) Yes it would be nice to repeal these laws/ordinaces or at least gut them with "reasonable need" clauses.

    3) What is the big deal with OCDO clamping down on rifle/shotgun talk? Can't they simply create a forum next to "General Discussion" called Long-Guns? I know I know it is not their charter but really I can't imagine that most OC-ers don't also own rifles and shotguns and "occassionally" want to ask questions about law interpretations etc with people they know and trust on this forum. Jeeeesh!

    4) One day before I die, I want to ride a motorcycle around VA with an AK47 strapped to my back. Since I have a Pay-4-Perks permit it should all be legal right? :-)

  20. #20
    Accomplished Advocate peter nap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 45acpForMe View Post
    A couple thoughts:

    1) Since the penalty is a fine not more than $100 if I felt the need to keep a loaded rifle/shotgun in my car for whatever reason I could live with a fine every blue moon. Of course I would drive within the law to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I would fear misdemenor or felony charges not fines.

    2) Yes it would be nice to repeal these laws/ordinaces or at least gut them with "reasonable need" clauses.

    3) What is the big deal with OCDO clamping down on rifle/shotgun talk? Can't they simply create a forum next to "General Discussion" called Long-Guns? I know I know it is not their charter but really I can't imagine that most OC-ers don't also own rifles and shotguns and "occassionally" want to ask questions about law interpretations etc with people they know and trust on this forum. Jeeeesh!

    4) One day before I die, I want to ride a motorcycle around VA with an AK47 strapped to my back. Since I have a Pay-4-Perks permit it should all be legal right? :-)
    It's legal anyway as long as you stay out of the forbidden zones. Since wild horses couldn't drag me North of Fredricksburg, it's pretty easy to avoid the rest.

    I guess I got the Black Gun itch scratched. I was building them during the AWB, first from 80% lowers then started milling my own AR receivers and pressing my own AK's... and got tired of them.

    It got boring so I got creative and built a pump action AR Pistol, a 50 BMG single shot AR, a host of AK's in every configuration and unless war breaks out, wouldn't trade my Guide Gun for them all.

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    Talk to Philip

    Quote Originally Posted by peter nap View Post
    Good thought Joe but how long do you think that would last in Marsh's committee?
    He mentioned at the picnic they were working on some good ways around that problem. first and foremost is to cast our votes at the election and scare em good.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simmonsjoe View Post
    He mentioned at the picnic they were working on some good ways around that problem. first and foremost is to cast our votes at the election and scare em good.
    Yes! Just as the McDonnell/Bolling/Cuccinelli landslide scared the Nat-rats, the scaring will definitely go the other direction this fall.

    TFred

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