While Virginia experiences very few natural disasters, every couple of years it seems a hurricane will threaten the coast. In the event a hurricane or other natural or man-made disaster strikes and the governor of Virginia declares a state of emergency, how will it affect your firearm rights?

How Are Your Rights Affected?

Fortunately, in Virginia we have a law in place that largely prevents your firearm rights from being restricted or denied during an emergency. Va. Code § 44-146.15 says that nothing allows the Virginia government during an emergency to “…limit or prohibit the rights of the people to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by Article I, Section 13 of the Constitution of Virginia or the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.”

What This Means

This means that during a disaster, the government does not have the power to limit “…the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms.” There is a small exception in this law which allows your firearm rights to be limited during a disaster in any place or facility designed or used by the governor or any other political subdivision of the commonwealth as an emergency shelter. So, keep in mind that if you are planning on heading to a public shelter run by the government, there might be firearm restrictions.

However, just because additional restrictions on firearms generally do not apply in Virginia, you still need to follow existing laws relating to carrying and transporting firearms within the state. If you plan on evacuating out of the state, you must also be aware that laws in other states may change during an emergency situation.

For any questions on what to do in the event of a natural disaster and state of emergency, contact U.S. LawShield and ask to speak to an Independent Program Attorney.

ALERT: Make sure to check all state and local laws and reach out to your Independent Program Attorney as you prepare for emergency situations. Click here for the latest webinar discussion regarding travel restrictions during a pandemic with Sam Malone, featuring Independent Program Attorneys David Katz, James Reeves, Emily Taylor, and Richard Hayes.

The preceding should not be construed as legal advice nor the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This is not an endorsement or solicitation for any service. Your situation may be different, so please contact your attorney regarding your specific circumstances. Because the laws, judges, juries, and prosecutors vary from location to location, similar or even identical facts and circumstances to those described in this presentation may result in significantly different legal outcomes. This presentation is by no means a guarantee or promise of any particular legal outcome, positive, negative, or otherwise.