Senate Bill No. 16 (SB 16) in Virginia, which has been put forth for the 2020 legislative session, has gained national attention. The bill seeks to amend and expand the definition of an assault weapon, as well as institute an assault weapon ban statewide. These two provisions of the legislation are not just the ones that most people are talking about, but also the two that are most controversial. However, SB 16 also has a number of provisions within it that will affect juveniles that, while perhaps not controversial enough to garner national focus, are important.
As a juvenile or a parent of a juvenile, here’s an overview of what you should know about changes made to firearm possession for juveniles by the proposed Senate Bill No. 16–
Possession of Certain Firearms By Those Under 18 Years of Age
The proposed legislation would make it unlawful for any person under 18 years of age to possess or transport a handgun or a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of ammunition. Any violation of the law would be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
There are some exceptions to the restriction on those under 18. Indeed, the prohibition would not apply to anyone within their own home or private property or on the property of another with the permission of the property owner and the minor’s parent; to anyone who is traveling to or from a lawful shooting range and is accompanied by their parent; or to anyone who is actively and lawfully hunting or traveling to a hunting area, so long as the weapon is unloaded while in transport. For obvious reasons, the restriction would also not apply to members of the Armed Forces or U.S. National Guard.
Penalties for a Class 1 Misdemeanor
A Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious of misdemeanor offenses; more serious crimes are classified as felonies. Per Virginia Code Section 18.2-11, Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor, a Class 1 misdemeanor can result in a period of imprisonment for up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
Amendment Proposed to Statute Regarding Delinquent Children; Loss of Driving Privileges for Alcohol, Firearm, and Drug Offenses; Truancy
The state of Virginia already has a law on the books that states that if a juvenile is found responsible for committing certain offenses, including certain alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, drug offenses, they will be subject to the denial of a driver’s license for at least one year, or until the minor reaches age 17 years of age, whichever is longer. This law is found in Section 16.1-278.9 of Virginia Code.
SB 16 seeks to amend this law. To be sure, the possession of an assault firearm would be included as an offense, and the definition of an assault firearm would be expanded and amended to include centerfire rifles and pistols with magazine capacities in excess of 10 rounds, as well as certain other features (see the full text of the legislation for more details).
A Note About Senate Bill No. 18
Senate Bill No. 16, discussed above, will expand the definition of an assault rifle, and will also make it illegal for those under the age of 18 to possess certain rifle types except for in certain circumstances. (It will also ban assault firearms.) It is important to note that another piece of legislation, Senate Bill No. 18, will also affect juveniles’ ability to possess firearms, should the law be passed into law. To be sure, the law would change the current age (18) to purchase a rifle or shotgun to 21 – this age change would apply to the purchase of any firearm from a licensed dealer.
The bill would also change the age at which a person is lawfully allowed to possess or transport a handgun or an assault firearm from age 18 to 21. Violation of this law would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Our Lawyers Can Provide You With Juvenile Defense Services
Understanding the proposed laws and the effects that they may have on you as a juvenile or as the parent of a juvenile can be complicated. At the law offices of Leary Law, our aggressive criminal defense lawyers have experience representing both minors and adults, and would be happy to sit down with you to discuss the proposed laws and any juvenile charges you or your child is facing. To learn more, please call us directly to schedule a consultation.