A host of tragic events in the news has once again thrust the debate over the Second Amendment into the direct spotlight. Individuals on both sides of the argument are making impassioned pleas each day to further their agenda, which only further inflames the opposition.
The fact remains, however, that it is legal to possess a firearm in the state of Virginia. Furthermore, pursuant to Virginia law, it is also legal to carry a concealed handgun in the state, as long as the owner holds a permit issued by Virginia or one of the states belonging to the applicable reciprocity agreement.
Of course, there are limits to the scope of this permit. For example, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon into a church or other place of worship during a religious meeting, as well as onto an elementary, junior, or high school.
But what about universities? Are University of Virginia students legally allowed to carry a concealed weapon on Grounds? Truthfully, anyone who is taking classes at the University of Virginia and who possesses a concealed weapons permit should familiarize themselves with the relevant laws and rules for the University, and should pose any remaining questions to an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Concealed Carry at the University of Virginia: The Law
Unlike a number of other states in the nation, Virginia does not have statewide legislation that allows or prohibits students from carrying weapons onto a university campus. Instead, each public institution has the option to regulate weapon carry policies on its campus, according to a ruling made by the Virginia Supreme Court. However, the same ruling also declares that weapons restrictions may only extend into the areas where students are most vulnerable, and that gun possession must still be allowed on open areas of campus.
The University of Virginia, specifically, has banned the possession of weapons on its Grounds, which even extends to concealed weapons. The exceptions to this policy are few, and include members of law enforcement and security details, among others.
It’s important to note the wording of the university regulation; to be sure, the University of Virginia prohibits students, faculty members, employees, trainees, or volunteers from carrying a weapon anywhere on Grounds, including open grounds. However, those not affiliated with the university are granted more leniency; the regulation states that the general public and visitors are prohibited from carrying a weapon in academic, administrative, athletic, entertainment, or student residence buildings, as well as a number of other locations, although this does not include the entirety of Grounds.
Penalties for Violation of the University Regulations
Because the law is not universal across Virginia campuses, many students and members of the public may find themselves in violation of this university regulation. And, ultimately, violating this university regulation comes with severe penalties.
To begin, students and others who are affiliated with the university will be subject to disciplinary action, as described by the regulation. The scope of this is not specified in the document, although this likely includes expulsion for students, as well as termination of employment for employees.
In addition, members of both the university and the public will likely face criminal charges. Virginia state law sets forth various penalties for unlawful possession, which range from misdemeanors to felonies.
Have You Been Charged with Unlawful Possession on the University of Virginia Grounds?
Unsure of the applicable laws, many students or members of the public may venture near or onto the University of Virginia Grounds while lawfully in possession of a concealed weapon. And, in some cases, these individuals may end up facing serious penalties, ranging from expulsion from school, to jail time.
If you find yourself in this situation, either as a member of the university, or simply a visitor to Grounds, do not handle your case alone. Instead, reach out to us today at the law office of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP in Charlottesville. Our talented legal team has decades of experience serving Charlottesville residents, and we will help ensure your rights are protected throughout each step of your criminal case. Don’t hesitate to call us today at 434-296-7138 to learn more about how we can help you.