Do Virginia gun laws play a role in domestic abuse?


Domestic violence is a serious offense under Virginia law. It can lead to a Class 1 misdemeanor charge for a first offense and a Class 6 felony charge if a person is convicted three or more times within a span of 10 years. However, according to Virginia's gun laws, a person convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence does not have to surrender their firearms. As a result, many people who have been convicted of domestic violence retain possession of their guns.

At a recent forum in Burke, participants discussed domestic violence in Fairfax County and how possession of firearms affects the safety of the county's residents. Forum participants discussed some interesting statistics that highlight the role of firearms in domestic violence cases across Fairfax County.

Every month, domestic violence hotlines in Fairfax County receive more than 240 calls and police arrest about 160 people as a result of those calls. According to the Fairfax County domestic violence coordinator, 60 percent of all intimate partner homicides in 2009 and 2010 were committed using a firearm. Statewide, the figure was 68 percent. During those years, domestic violence homicides contributed to 50 percent of all homicides in the county.

Domestic violence is a major problem in Virginia and when firearms are added to the equation, the danger increases tremendously. However, it is often possible for domestic violence victims to obtain a restraining order or a protective order. Domestic violence victims in Alexandria, Fairfax County and the rest of northern Virginia may wish to seek advice from an experienced lawyer who can explain the person's options and rights clearly.

Source:, "Firearms increase domestic abuse lethality in Fairfax County," Gregg MacDonald, March 25, 2015

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