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Concealed Weapons and How the Interpretation of § 18.2-308 Has Changed

Virginia’s concealed carry laws are delineated in Virginia Code § 18.2-308.  The statute says it is unlawful to carry a firearm concealed from common observation.  The statute does allow certain exceptions, and the ones relating to vehicles are contained in subsection (B)(10).  The vehicle exceptions exclude the concealed weapon prohibition from “any person who may lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel and such handgun is secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel . . . .”  Breaking apart the exception into separate parts makes it easier to understand.

First you must be able to lawfully possess a firearm.  Second, the firearm must be in a personal motor vehicle.  Lastly, the firearm must be in a secured container.  This post will concentrate on the meaning of a secured container.  In 2013, the Virginia Court of Appeals released an opinion in Doulgerakis v. Commonwealth, which dealt with what a “secured container” meant.

Prior to the Doulgerakis opinion Court’s held that you could not store a firearm in a glove compartment or any other container that was not locked.  In Doulgerakis, the Court of Appeals looked at the legislative history of the statute and focused on the fact that the term “locked” was replaced with “secured” in 2010.  The Court went further on to state that “[S]ecured” is defined as “in safekeeping or custody,” Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary 1641 (2d ed. 1983), or “well-fastened,” The American Heritage Dictionary 1173 (New College Ed. 1982).

After Doulgerakis it appears that as long as a weapon is contained in a closed container inside of a vehicle it is not considered concealed.

 

The content of this Blog/Web Site does not constitute legal advice.  Because legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case and laws are constantly changing, you should seek the assistance of licensed and competent legal counsel for specific legal advice.

 

 



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