Residents of the Commonwealth of Virginia who may lawfully possess firearms are not required to obtain a concealed-weapons permit in order to carry loaded handguns within reach inside vehicles, said Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.
The AG's official opinion does not change legislation written and passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2010, but simply clarifies what some suggested was a confusing component of the statute.
Prior to passage of the 2010 measure, Virginia law prohibiting carrying a concealed weapon without a permit also barred transporting a handgun "in a concealed manner" inside a vehicle. However, an exemption was added for "any person who may lawfully possess a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private motor vehicle or vessel."
That exemption applies when the handgun is stored in (locked or unlocked) vehicle glove compartments or center consoles, said Cuccinelli in his opinion.
According to a report in the May 30 Washington Times, the AG's advisory came after an inquiry from state Sen. Stephen D. Newman, (R-Lynchburg), who said a constituent was receiving conflicting interpretations from law enforcement personnel and wanted clarification.
"This individual had gone to numerous law enforcement agencies and had asked the same question and had gotten different answers from each one," said Sen. Newman. "On something like a gun charge, you just can't have that. It's important to have law laid out very clearly."
In issuing his response to the inquiry, Cuccinelli noted that his opinion was limited to existing Virginia statute and that other state firearms transportation laws vary.