VA law help: assault firearms


June 15, 2007, 09:33 AM
i've been searching for the answer to this all night, but so far no luck, so hopefully all you knowledgeable folk will be able to help me out.

does an AR-15 lower count as an "assault firearm" under Virginia Code 18.2-308.2:2. see section B , or does it only apply to completed weapons? the reason i ask is that i am currently waiting for both my voter registration card and passport so i can prove i have citizenship and finish purchasing an AR-15.

any info will be appreciated, thanks!

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June 15, 2007, 09:50 AM
18.2-308.2:01. Possession or transportation of certain firearms by certain persons.

For purposes of this section, "assault firearm" means any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that 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.

This is interesting. All you have to do is provide proof that you're a citizen or permanant alien. To prove citizen ship you must:
To establish citizenship or lawful admission for a permanent residence for purposes of purchasing an assault firearm, a dealer shall require a prospective purchaser to present a certified birth certificate or a certificate of birth abroad issued by the United States State Department, a certificate of citizenship or a certificate of naturalization issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, an unexpired U.S. passport, a United States citizen identification card, a current voter registration card, a current selective service registration card, or an immigrant visa or other documentation of status as a person lawfully admitted for permanent residence issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
I always use my voter registration card as backup proof of Virginia residency. Maybe this is why I've never been asked for proof under this statuate.

June 15, 2007, 10:03 AM
When I purchased a complete AR lower_with a collapsible stock_, after soome debate the dealer made me prove my citizenship. Probably would not be necessary if you just have a stripped lower, or one with a fixed stock.

June 15, 2007, 10:08 AM
does an AR-15 lower count as an "assault firearm" under Virginia Code 18.2-308.2:2.

Yes, I'm sure it does. The ATF defines the receiver as the controlled part of a firearm. If a lawyer tries to argue in court that a half a rifle (lower receiver) is not an assault firearm under 18.2-308.2:2, the court is going to use the ATF definition in interpreting 18.2-308.2:2.

June 15, 2007, 11:46 AM
My dealer told me that if I buy an AR with a 20 round mag, I don't need to prove I'm a U.S. citizen, just if I buy an AR with a 30 rounder.

June 15, 2007, 12:02 PM
Good point. The wording is a bit vague, isn't it.

June 15, 2007, 12:52 PM
SWMAN, any way you can ask about a complete lower only? really interested in what the interpretation of the law really is on this subject. thanks for the reply so far guys, keep em coming so we can all be informed. :)

June 15, 2007, 01:57 PM
I'm no lawyer, thank God, but I don't believe you're going to find a clear answer to your question.

If I recall correctly, I believe the requirement for citizenship to buy an "assault firearm" was only fairly recently added to the Code of VA as a knee jerk reaction to 9/11. And the definition of "assault firearm" give in the code is rather nebulous. I've never heard of any gun dealer being prosecuted under this law, so there's not going to be any caselaw to offer guidance on how the courts interpret the passage.

Basically, it's going to be up to every gun dealer in VA to read the passage and make their own interpretation. I'm guessing you'll find some dealers that will sell a lower or a stripped receiver and never even consider citizenship and others who will refuse to sell them if you can't prove citizenship. It depends on how willing a particular gun dealer is to risking running afoul of the law.

June 15, 2007, 02:01 PM
You can easily have an AR that is not an "assault weapon" under either the (former) Federal or Virginia definitions, so I don't think the federal determination that a lower receiver is the weapon would be conclusive. In the AW ban days I bought a couple of complete "ban" ARs that did not meet the federal standard for "assault weapons". And as the above poster pointed out, as long as the magazine I got with them did not have more than a 20 round capacity, VA did not treat them as "assault weapons" either and I did not have to prove citizenship.

Truthfully, it will probably be up to your dealer in the end. No harm in asking.

June 15, 2007, 02:09 PM
This law was enacted in the early 1990s, in response to the shootings of several CIA employees in front of CIA HQs by a Pakistani citizen. While I think the definition of assault weapon is rather clear in this code, I agree the definition of how a lower receiver is treated is more ambigous and it will be up to your dealer. I suspect many would sell to you, I think mine would (without a collapsible stock). Good luck.

June 15, 2007, 03:13 PM
Well, I was only a decade off. :)

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