On July 1, 2016, a new law goes into effect that will make some gun owners in the Commonwealth felons automatically. That is, unless they voluntarily surrender their firearms before that date.
The new law mandates that any person with a permanent protective order relating to family violence that was served upon them July 1, 2014, or later must hand over their firearms.
Even though it’s been a federal law for years, it has not been the law in Virginia’s books nor enforced.
“If they’re in possession of firearms it’s a Class 6 felony, punishable up to 5 years in prison,” says the Lynchburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Doucette.
With the nation’s attention focused on domestic violence, Virginia lawmakers passed this new law in an attempt to protect the victims of domestic abuse.
Doucette was among the lawmakers in Virginia who met in Richmond on May 26 to help in figuring out details such as where these guns are expected to be dropped off.
His first priority, however, is getting the word out about the upcoming law taking effect.
“People need to know those protective orders last for two years… so what happens to someone who was issued a protective order in July of 2014? It’s still valid in July of 2016,” says Doucette.
In other words, if those people still have firearms by midnight July 1st, they’re committing a felony.
If you’ve had a permanent protective order filed against you after July 1, 2014, this new law affects you and you must take proper action to avoid felony charges.