Exercising Your Second Amendment Right

Interesting scenario:  You are doing some shopping in Walmart. Alarmed by the recent nationwide shootings, you are carrying your recently legally authorized concealed handgun. A man walks in, carrying an assault-style rifle and a handgun strapped to his side, along with several magazines of ammunition. This also is legal in Virginia. What do you do?

  1. Say hello to your fellow gun-carrying customer
  2. Ignore him
  3. Pull out your handgun and confront him
  4. Shoot him because he is obviously a threat

Here are the laws governing this situation, which you may or may not know as you are trying to decide what to do:

  1. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to “hold or brandish any firearm … in such manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another or hold a firearm … in a public place in such a manner as to reasonably induce fear in the mind of another of being shot or injured. “
  2. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to carry a loaded semi-automatic rifle in a public place in the “Cities of Alexandria, Chesapeake, Fairfax, Falls Church, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, or Virginia Beach or in the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Henrico, Loudoun, or Prince William.”
  3. It is unlawful for felons or persons diagnosed with mental illness to carry firearms.
  4. It is a felony for someone unlawfully in possession a controlled substance to possess a firearm.
  5. It is a Class 6 felony for any non-citizen to carry an assault weapon and for any undocumented non-citizen to carry any firearm.
  6. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor for anyone under 18 to carry an assault weapon or handgun.

(The scenario presented is not altogether fanciful. A situation similar to this just occurred in Missouri.)

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13 responses to “Exercising Your Second Amendment Right

  1. Good question and good info about legalities! I’ve been in a Walmart and encountered armed folks – handguns in holsters and such – and am not comfortable – I really don’t know who they are or what their state of mind is – and I notice that they often have the aisles to themselves and shoppers find other places to be. If I encountered several armed folks at the same time, I’d leave and come back later or if that happened more often, I’d not shop there anymore.

    But you missed some other laws about where you CANNOT carry a firearm (unless law enforcement) – a “restriction” – schools, voting precincts, Courts, many Federal and State buildings, campgrounds, many public and private events, etc.

    And we have the idea that certain folks as a result of their mental conditions should NOT be allowed to have guns but we have no real system in place to prevent them and so we find out AFTER they have killed others, THEN we say it’s not really a gun issue but a mental health issue and so it does not really “count” as a true murder, because he (it’s virtually ALWAYS a “he” by the way) was “ill” and we don’t convict the mentally ill of murder, right?

    And we’re not the only country in the world with this “problem” – it’s rampant in some Central American countries and causes people to flee to Mexico and the US for “asylum”!

  2. What would I do?
    Dick you are missing Item 5 – Move back to New Jersey
    I mean that is absolutely ridiculous, and taxes are so high in NoVA, just stay in New Jersey with more rational and tough gun laws.

    Like former Gov McAuliffe I used to love to shoot rifles, but we gotta get real around here.

    Great blog article, though!

  3. I did not list the other places where one cannot carry a gun because they were not applicable to the scenario I proposed.

  4. #4. In a post 9/11, rising white nationalist domestic terrorism threat (FBI’s biggest concern) environment in the US, I would think the doctrine of preemptive self defense would justify the person holding the perp could have instead just shot him, all while he was live streaming his own death on facebook (or just video recording it). https://digitalcommons.law.villanova.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1215&context=vlr https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/fbi-faces-skepticism-over-its-anti-domestic-terror-efforts/2019/08/04/c9c928bc-b6e0-11e9-b3b4-2bb69e8c4e39_story.html

  5. It’s my understanding that any private property owner can post a sign that informs the public that no firearms can be brought on the premises without permission. I would suspect that, if someone enters such an establishment with a firearm, such person can be arrested for trespass or for some other crime.

    In the event an establishment has not posted such a sign, isn’t the logical conclusion that firearms are not forbidden? It seems to me landowners, including businesses, have considerable authority to keep firearms off their premises by posting a sign or two. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this. This is also the type of situation where the police should respond quickly and the Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecute as appropriate.

    I’m confused by the use of the term “assault weapon.” VA Code Sec. 18.2-308.2.2.G defines an “Assault firearm” as meaning “any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol which expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine which will hold more than 20 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock.” See also Secs. 18.2-308.2:01.C. and § 18.2-308.7. Is that what we are discussing?

  6. First you make sure the nearest security personnel or police are aware. If you see none, you call 911. The Capitol is awash with armed show-offs from time to time, and the Capitol Police are on full alert. In all the years I’ve been around, the only discharged firearm was a delegate acting the fool. As you just demonstrated the actual laws are confusing and contradictory. But most understand that “carrying” is not “brandishing” and if somebody is brandishing, just get the hell away until security arrives.

    Or you call Senator Amanda Chase and she takes the sucka down….

    Your 3 and 4 based on those facts make you the criminal, IMHO.

  7. But, Steve, I thought the advantage of having folks around with concealed handguns was to protect us from all these mass shooters. As for security, I have trouble finding a clerk in Walmart, not to mention a security guard.

    • Then call 911. Even with a conceal carry permit, you only have a right of self defense or to protect others, and somebody merely being armed in public (and not brandishing, not threatening, let alone actually shooting) does not present that threat. Once the person makes it reasonable to perceive danger, then perhaps a citizen can take an action. You described a person who is merely armed. He points the gun in an intentional manner, chambers a round, clicks off the safety, the situation changes.

      Until then, leave it to trained personnel. You asked for advice.

      I have never ascribed to the idea that we are all safer because more and more untrained idiots have guns. At least those with official conceal carry permits have had some training. But it doesn’t make you a peace officer. That said, the advocates are not totally wrong and the murderous bastards do look for soft targets on purpose. You don’t seen them walking into a police building. Basically they are cowards.

      • “He points the gun in an intentional manner, chambers a round, clicks off the safety, the situation changes.’

        Who protects you then?

        Likely nobody, save yourself.

  8. I leave my cart and take my business to, ironically enough, Target!

  9. He’s someone worth keeping an eye on but I’m still going to go about my business. People have become far too timid and frightened by the sight of a gun. I feel that is in large part because society has been whittled down into this state of thinking that someone else is responsible for their safety. The government won’t save you. The police don’t have a duty to protect you. The only person who is responsible for my personal safety is me. I choose to take that responsibility seriously and arm myself accordingly. I’m not going to call 911 immediately in the stated scenario because that could very well tie up resources that are needed elsewhere. Our society has a severe lack of personal responsibility and has become too easily frightened.

    TooManyTaxes, a sign posted prohibiting the carrying of firearms on private property by itself carries no weight. You can’t be automatically prosecuted for carrying despite the presence of such a sign. You can, however, be charged with trespassing if the property owner asks you to leave and you refuse to do so.

  10. One could probably phrase the sign to indicate that anyone entering the premises with a firearm will be treated as a trespasser and the police called. I’ve seen similar signs in Fairfax County. I don’t know how the police would react.

    I am aware of a planned protest by individuals with firearms that completely fizzled when they approached a hall with a similar sign. No one wanted to take a chance of arrest and just left.

  11. In a Wal-Mart?

    You might ask the gunned up patron for the receipts for all those firearms ….


    I see people with open carry pistols in revolvers when I’m in Central Virginia pretty frequently. If they seem friendly I usually ask them about the firearm they are carrying. My informal poll is that Glocks are the weapon of choice for open carry in Virginia.

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