Does Virginia law prohibit short barreled shotguns?

SerbuI spoke with a prospective NFA collector today who wanted to know whether or not Virginia law prohibited the possession of short barreled shotguns.

He had been led to believe that state law might prohibit such possession regardless of compliance with the NFA.

His concern was based upon § 18.2-300 of the Code of Virginia.

§ 18.2-300. Possession or use of “sawed-off” shotgun or rifle.

A. Possession or use of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of a crime of violence is a Class 2 felony.

B. Possession or use of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle for any other purpose, except as permitted by this article and official use by those persons permitted possession by § 18.2-303, is a Class 4 felony.

Note the “except as permitted by this article” qualifier.  We need to see if there are any provisions ‘in this article‘ that would exempt short barreled shotguns legally registered in the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record (NFRTR) pursuant to the NFA and the GCA.

Thankfully, we do not have to venture far to find the appropriate code section.

§ 18.2-303.1. What article does not prohibit.

Nothing contained in this article shall prohibit or interfere with the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle for scientific purposes, the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle possessed in compliance with federal law or the possession of a “sawed-off” shotgun or “sawed-off” rifle not usable as a firing weapon and possessed as a curiosity, ornament, or keepsake.

Therefore, if you possess a short barrel shotgun pursuant to an approved Form 1, Form 3, Form 4, or Form 5, then the prohibition in § 18.2-300 does not apply to you.

Disclaimer:  This information is presented for educational purposes only and does not give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Additionally, I am licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia and this answer may not be appropriate for other states. You should always consult an attorney licensed to practice law in your state who is familiar with NFA trust planning before making decisions about your own estate plan.



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