In America, the right to bear arms has caused a lot of controversy. While there are certain situations where weapons are not permitted, many Virginians enjoy the ability to carry firearms for personal protection throughout their communities. But what about carrying a gun at church? Are you allowed to under the law, or should you leave your firearm at home? Here’s what your Virginia gun rights lawyer wants you to know.
There Are Restrictions in Place
In Virginia, you’re permitted to bring both concealed and open-carry firearms into a church or place of worship provided you’re carrying it for a good reason. This stipulation is outlined in the Virginia Code §18.2-283. This statute says that any person carrying a weapon into a place of worship can only do so if they have good and sufficient reason.
So, what counts as a good and sufficient reason? The law is a bit ambiguous, but this can be a good thing. Typically, you’re permitted to bring a weapon or firearm into a house of worship if you’re carrying it for personal protection. If you end up using the weapon to protect yourself or others, the use is likely protected by law. If you’re not using the weapon for self-defense or personal protection, there’s a chance that you could be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor under the law.
Keep in mind that this type of charge is relatively rare. Most churches and religious institutions allow individuals to carry firearms in their buildings. However, if you bring the weapon into a church and use it to threaten others, you’ll be in full violation of the law and may end up facing additional charges.
Churches Can Set Their Own Rules
Though the law does permit you to carry a gun into a church if you’re using it for personal protection or another acceptable reason, you can only do so if the church permits it. Churches, like businesses in the community, are allowed to set their own rules. If the church has a clearly posted policy that prohibits people from bringing weapons onto the premises, you’re required to follow those rules. If you’re found to be in violation of the rule, the church can ask you to remove the firearm or to leave.
And if you refuse to leave or become belligerent, the church can call the police and have you removed. There’s a good chance, too, that they’ll press charges, especially if you were perceived to have threatened members of the congregation or staff.
Should You Carry a Gun in a Church?
Ultimately, deciding to carry a gun in a church is a matter of personal preference, provided that the church doesn’t have a no-guns policy in place. Think about your reasons for carrying and decide if carrying a gun is worth the effort while you’re attending services.
If you believe that your rights have been violated or are concerned about maintaining your rights to gun ownership after being charged with a felony, don’t give up. At AC Rieman Law, our team understands the importance of the right to bear arms. We’ll review your case and help you better understand your options. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.