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How To Apply For a Concealed Weapons Permit

May 9, 2010

Jay Scarborough and Shadae Lee
Capital News Service

To carry a concealed weapon, you must fill out a form called SP-248 – Application for Concealed Handgun Permit. It’s available at circuit courts, sheriff’s offices and police departments throughout Virginia.

The form also can be downloaded from the website of the Virginia State Police, www.vsp.state.va.us.

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Applicants must be 21 and provide proof that they have “demonstrated competence with a handgun.” This can be accomplished by completing a firearms training course or showing the court you have experience with guns.

You must take your application to the circuit court of the county or city where you live. The court will charge a $10 processing fee. Local law enforcement agencies can charge up to $35 to cover the expenses of a required investigation, and the Virginia State Police can charge $5 for processing. Total costs may not exceed $50.

If you’ve had 15 years of service in the military or with a law enforcement agency, you may be exempt from the applications fee for a concealed weapons permit.

Unless your application is denied, the court will issue the permit within 45 days; it is valid for five years.

The holder of a concealed weapon permit must always have the document when carrying a concealed handgun. The person must show the permit and a government-issued photo identification when requested to do so by a law enforcement officer.

Anyone who has previously held a Virginia concealed weapons permit will be granted a new permit unless there is “good cause shown” for denying the renewal. The same fees apply to permit renewals.

Who’s Disqualified

Several categories of people are disqualified from getting a concealed weapons permit, according to the Virginia State Police. They include:

Individuals convicted of a felony, unless their civil rights have been restored by the governor or other appropriate authority.

An individual who has been convicted of two or more misdemeanors within the five years immediately preceding the application. Traffic infractions or reckless driving are not considered for this disqualification.

An individual who is addicted to, or illegally distributes, marijuana or any controlled substance.

An individual who has been convicted of driving while intoxicated or a substantially similar local ordinance or of public drunkenness in the preceding three years.

An individual who has been convicted of any assault, assault and battery, sexual battery, discharging of a firearm or brandishing of a firearm in the preceding three years.

An individual who has been convicted of stalking.

An individual who has received mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment in a residential setting in the preceding five years.

No Guns Allowed

Although you may possess a concealed weapons permit, you can’t necessarily take your gun everywhere.

It is forbidden to carry a concealed weapon into an airport terminal, a courthouse or any place of worship and onto school property.

Owners of private property may forbid the carrying of concealed weapons at their own discretion.

Currently, concealed weapons are forbidden in any restaurant or club licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. (There’s an exception for sworn or retired law-enforcement officers, club and restaurant owners and their employees.)

However, beginning July 1, it will be legal for concealed handgun permit holders to carry a weapon into a restaurant or club as long as they do not consume alcohol. That’s the result of Senate Bill 334, sponsored by Sen. Emmett W. Hanger, R-Mount Solon.

Hanger’s bill passed the Senate on a vote of 22-18 and the House, 72-27. On April 11, Gov. Bob McDonnell signed it into law.

Under the new law, individuals who drink alcoholic beverages while carrying a concealed weapon face a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Concealed Handgun Permits: By the Numbers

Almost 220,000 Virginians are licensed to carry concealed weapons – and that includes a big jump in permit holders last year.

According to the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center, the number of permits issued to Virginia residents rose from 55,864 in 2008 to 70,434 in 2009. Some people attributed the increase to rumors that President Barack Obama would restrict gun ownership. This year, the number of permits being issued is running closer to the 2008 pace.

A concealed weapons permit is good for five years. Currently, 219,974 Virginia residents have valid permits, said Corrine Geller, public relations manager for the Virginia State Police.

Here’s how many permits have been issued each year in Virginia.


Main Story: Gun Permits Are (Not So) Public Information