CARRYING WEAPONS INTO COURTHOUSE
Have you been to the courthouse lately? On the front and back doors are 8 ½ by 11 yellow signs that read “NO WEAPONS ALLOWED!” You would think this would be common sense, but as that old adage goes, “Common sense ain’t so common anymore.”
These signs were posted because someone that was not familiar with the laws was caught carrying a loaded pistol inside the courthouse. The individual in question had no ill intent. He was simple there to transact some business. But because he didn’t know the law, he was cited for this violation and his sidearm was seized.
|§ 18.2-283.1. Carrying weapon into courthouse. It shall be unlawful for any person to possess in or transport into any courthouse in this Commonwealth any gun….. or ammunition….. or other weapon ….. Any such weapon shall be subject to seizure by a law-enforcement officer. A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.|
Before I go any further, let me tell you if your weapon is seized, it’s possible you might get it back, but highly unlikely. So you just lost a handgun that you probably paid several hundred dollars for. That’s just the beginning of what this mistake is going to cost you.
Misdemeanor and felony charges are rated from Class 6 being the least severe to Class 1 being the most severe. With the above statute being a Class 1 misdemeanor, it’s going to cost you, big time. If you want to replace your handgun after the issue is settled, you’ll have to shell out another several hundred dollars to get another one. This is getting more expensive by the minute!
Read the statute again. Did you catch the part about “or ammunition…..”? I’ll tell you a story about yours truly.
Last year, I had been trying to get hold of Sheriff Zeman to discuss an issue with him. I was coming into town on Highway 8 and as I passed the intersection of 8 and Oxford Street, I spotted him in the parking lot headed inside the courthouse. I pulled over in a parking space, disarmed myself because I’d be going inside to speak with him, locked the truck and headed across the street.
I have a habit of patting my pockets to make sure I’ve got my keys, wallet and cell phone. As I approached the back door of the courthouse, I patted myself down and discovered I had a spare magazine of ammunition for my pistol in my back pocket. You big dummy! Back to the truck, unlock it, put the magazine inside, lock the truck again and back to the courthouse.
So what’s the possibility that I might have been caught with my spare magazine in my pocket? Probably pretty slim, I’d say. But I don’t take chances based on probability. I make decisions like that based on possibility. Besides, I respect the law and try my best to abide by it. Furthermore, Sheriff Zeman would be very disappointed in me.
If you have business at the courthouse and you’re carrying a handgun, it stops when you park your vehicle. Disarm yourself and lock the vehicle. And, oh yeah, pat yourself down for that spare magazine!