Plenty of local gun laws are needlessly (and intentionally) vague. That gives police and prosecutors all kinds of wiggle room to prosecute or not, depending on “circumstances.” Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League wanted clarification of the Old Dominion’s law governing car carry. Virginian’s don’t need a permit to keep a heater in their Hyundai, but the law says the gun must be “secured.” Just what secured means depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is. So Van Cleave wanted an official opinion from AG Ken Cucinelli to pass on to the state’s gun owners. Make the jump for the whole magilla reprinted with permission from the VCDL’s email blast . . .

Whether you have a CHP or not, this is good news for all of us.

Several months ago I had asked my Delegate, Lee Ware, to put in a request to the Attorney General to clarify the law on someone without a CHP having a firearm “secured” in a container or compartment in a motor vehicle.  As it turns out Senator Stephen Newman beat me to the punch.  He asked the same question and also a couple of other related questions, making Senator Newman’s request a better one for the Attorney General to answer than my less encompassing question submitted by Lee Ware.

The main question centers around the word “secured.”  Does it mean the container or compartment must be locked?  (VCDL has always contended “no” to that question.)  This had become an important issue as some people had been arrested and charged because either the police, the Commonwealth Attorney, or the judge had felt that “secured” meant locked.  Others were not arrested or charged because “secured” was not interpreted to mean locked.

Cuccinelli’s opinion says, correctly, that the container does NOT need to be locked!

The opinion says that the gun can be loaded while secured in the container or compartment and can be within reach of both the driver and passengers.  Again VCDL concurs.

This is good news for permit holders, too.  For example, it would prevent a spouse or passenger without a permit from being charged for a gun left in a glovebox or console by a permit holder who has stepped away from the vehicle.

The opinion also says that private property owners can ban guns in vehicles if they so choose.   We need to fix that one.  A gun stored in a vehicle should always be allowed so that the gun owner is not disarmed while traveling to and from the private property.  This is a clash of rights – the private property owner’s right to control who and what is on his property vs someone else’s right to be able to protect themselves while NOT on that private property.  Allowing guns to be stored in vehicles is a good compromise position for both parties.  In fact there are some states that consider a person’s private vehicle to be an extension of their home.

Thanks to Senator Newman and Delegate Lee Ware for asking the question and to Attorney General Cuccinelli for a clear and concise opinion.

Here is a link to the actual opinion from the AG’s web site:  http://tinyurl.com/6nu474c

Here is coverage in the Washington Times.

10 Responses to VCDL: Virginia Attorney General Renders Opinion on Motor Vehicle Carry

  1. The thing that’s always bothered me is states that allow open carry, yet having a gun holstered your hip while driving is a felony. How is the fact that it’s “hard to see” because you’re sitting down behind the door “concealed”? By that logic, walking behind a table and the officer not being able to see the holstered gun would be “concealing” it.

    • In PA at least, transporting a handgun in a vehicle is considered neither open carry nor concealed carry. It’s carrying “in any vehicle” (18 Pa.C.S. § 6106). So the issue is not whether or not it’s “concealed”, but that the firearm is being transported in a vehicle.

      Which is not to say that that law is a good law and shouldn’t be done away with.

      • Honestly, apart from the fact that Article I section 21 IS my LTCF, I have a greater problem with § 6108 than § 6106; § 6108 directly contradicts the entire purpose of the UFA.

  2. As a VA resident I don’t like that he believes we shouldn’t be allowed to keep guns in our vehicles on private property.

    But, I also don’t really care. My employer or any other private business owner can stick it where the sun don’t shine before I let them search my vehicle, where I do keep a locked up handgun when I’m not allowed to carry.

    • As the Attorney General, his “opinion” is of the legal nature and could be 180 degrees from his personal beliefs regarding what should or shouldn’t be allowed. If the current law is written so that it favors private property controls on the contents of private vehicles based on where they are parked, then the problem is the law, not the AG’s “opinion”.

  3. Kentucky gets this right. State law states that weapons may be carried in a vehicle either in plain sight or in a factory installed storage compartment (glove box or center console) with no need for a concealed carry permit. For a while the law just said “glove box” so people were being convicted for putting firearms in a center console, but the legislature did something right and fixed the law.

    • Nevada gets this right. We can carry a loaded pistol or revolver anywhere we want, hidden or on top of the dashboard, locked in a box or not. No CCW required. In NV, if a gun’s not directly on your person, you’re not carrying. If there’s no round in the chamber, it’s not loaded. In CA, if you have a gun and a bullet in two different locked compartments inside the passenger cabin of your car, you’re considered to be carrying a loaded gun.

      We are prohibited from carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun in our vehicle. I suppose there is some comfort in the statute defines ‘loaded’ to mean “has a live round in the chamber”.

  4. This is good news for me. I intend to keep my gun in the car when I go to school this fall. In a lock box of course, not because I’m required but because thats just smart.

  5. I believe in gun rights whole heartedly but, I also believe that it should be my right to control my personal property however I see fit.

    “The opinion also says that private property owners can ban guns in vehicles if they so choose. We need to fix that one. A gun stored in a vehicle should always be allowed so that the gun owner is not disarmed while traveling to and from the private property.”

    I feel if one wants to ride in someone else’s vehicle, who does not believe in 2nd ammendment rights and does not wish to have firearms in THEIR personal property, it should be their right and you have no right to carry your firearm, concealed or open, in their vehicle. You do not have to ride in their vehicle and if you do not agree then you need to find some other mode of transportation. Same with private property. If a business owner does not wish to do business with firearms owners and does not wish to have firearms, open or concealed, on their property then it is their right. I should hope any firearms owner will avoid that business at all costs but, it is still the owners private property.

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