Virginia to Stop Accepting Online Training for Concealed Handgun Permits


Virginians will no longer be able to get concealed handgun permits through online classes after January 1, 2021. A law passed last March by the General Assembly amends Virginia Code § 18.2-308.02 to require in-person firearms training or safety courses.

The amendment makes the requirement state, “Completing any in-person firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or online course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor.”

Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police Dana Schrad told The Virginia Star that the organization had no official position on the change, but she said, “As professionals who have to be certified in the use of firearms, we do see the benefit in in-person [Concealed Carry Weapon] CCW training to prevent fraud and insure participation in a critical training program to enhance firearms safety.”

However, Bob Marcus of Norfolk-based Bob’s Guns told The Star, “The people who are against the online training, usually it’s police officers who believe that people should have guns, but they want the same amount of training that they get and then they will be comfortable with it; and that’s just not realistic in our society.”

Marcus said that some states had instituted a mandatory multi-hour, police-level training for CCW permits, but he said that’s excessive and impossible for some citizens.

Since the provision for online classes was added by the General Assembly in 2008, there have been no problems with online training, Marcus said. He noted that online training is helpful for people who live a long distance from a class, and for people who physically can’t complete hours of firearms training.

“This is bad, especially with classroom size limitations during COVID-19.” Marcus said his shop’s classes are normally 30 people, but that’s limited now by social distancing.

According to Marcus, many people living in other states apply for non-resident concealed handgun permits in Virginia through an online class; the Virginia permits are recognized by some other states. However, that option for training will end on January 1.

On the other hand, it will drive more business to gun shops and ranges, according to Marcus.

“Legislators and law enforcement both have told me the same thing: the important component of the concealed handgun permit is the background check. The training is a bit of an impediment, but they’re interested in who’s getting these permits, and that’s the important part of it,” Marcus said.

He concluded, “It’s really sad because it’s taken a little more freedom away from individuals who could benefit from it.”

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Concealed Carry” by Clinger Holsters. CC BY-ND 2.0.







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