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Help us to repeal the Virginia ban on self-defense in places of worship during a service!


Virginia has a 140-year-old Blue law that prohibits weapons in a place of worship during a service, unless a person has a "good and sufficient reason" to do so.  Here is the entire law:

§ 18.2-283. Carrying dangerous weapon to place of religious worship.

If any person carry any gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place he shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

The law does not specify what is considered a "good and sufficient reason."  Like the old Jim Crow laws of the past, which were meant to restrict minorities from exercising their rights, the legality of someone carrying a weapon in a church during a service is totally in the hands of a judge.  What one judge thinks is a good reason, another judge might not agree.


Under current trespass laws a place of worship, as private property, has complete control of weapons - they can ban them, restrict them, or simply allow them.  This issue for places of worship is that if they want to restrict weapons or simply allow them as part of their security arrangement, they run into a problem while a service is being held because of 18.2-283.  Does their security have "good and sufficient reason" to be armed during that very important time?  Since when does the government dictate to a private property owner how they can or cannot do security during certain periods a day?

A formal opinion in 2010, from then Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, said that self-defense is indeed a good and sufficient reason.  The trouble with that opinion is that it is not law, is not binding on the courts (but carries some weight), and can be overturned by another Attorney General (our current Attorney General is apparently being pressured to do just that).  Most of us are carrying in places of worship under Cuccinelli's opinion, but the law still has to go.


By simply repealing 18.2-283, places of worship still have all their options for controlling firearms and other weapons.  But for those places of worship that want to allow for the carry of weapons for security reasons, the repeal will allow them to have a consistent weapons policy that applies 24/7, without needing to be modified or eliminated during a service - the most vulnerable time for an attack.

The repeal will do no harm to security for a place of worship that completely bans weapons - the penalty for trespass is far more severe than for violating 18.2-283.  But it will make things better for those places of worship that don't completely ban weapons.


The Governor

Click here to send a message to the Governor. If you are a faith leader, add that important fact to the message body!

Suggested message subject: Protect churches!  Support the repeal of 18.2-283

Suggested message body:

Allow churches to decide their own security policies!  Support the repeal of 18.2-283 during the 2019 General Assembly session!  The government has no business telling churches, which are private property, how they are to handle their own security during a service.  The repeal does not change a church's ability to prohibit weapons completely, if they so choose.

The General Assembly

Click here to send an editable message to your Delegate and your Senator.  If you are a faith leader, add that important fact to the message body!

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