The Virginia Definition of Firearms ‘Brandishing’

Firearms Brandishing
Firearms Brandishing
Virginia Citizens Defense League
Virginia Citizens Defense League

Covington VA –-( Several people have asked me what the definition of “brandishing” is in Virginia law.

Brandishing is when someone displays a firearm in a manner specifically intended to induce the fear of being shot in another person. The key is INTENT.

Generally one has to be holding the firearm to brandish, but not always.

One can brandish by:

  • Pointing a gun at another person (clearly intended as a threat)
  • Drawing a gun, but not pointing it at the person as part of a threat
  • Pulling back a cover garment to intentionally show the person is armed with a holstered firearm as part of a threat
  • Touching a holstered gun as part of a threat

Simply wearing a holstered gun or handling a gun is NOT brandishing if it is NOT done with the intent of inducing fear in another. Handling a gun in public is generally not a good idea, however, unless at a shooting range or at a gun show.

A person can only brandish a gun legally in a situation where they would be justified in shooting the gun in self-defense. In that case the threat must be imminent and either lethal or extremely grave.

Here is a story about someone who thought brandishing would help him get hired for a job… Didn't work for some reason:

Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc. (VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right. Visit:

  • 15 thoughts on “The Virginia Definition of Firearms ‘Brandishing’

    1. was a really generous time for the Not saying it didn’t do it but its 0-60 was for the most part identical to the 300ZX Turbo, Corvette, Vr4, Rx7,

    2. I would love to have some feedback on this. Incident: female driving down road and someone pulls out in front of her causing her to nearly wreck to avoid the accident. Female blows horn when passing other vehicle with one female drive and one male passenger. This vehicle then pulls around the female, swerves in front of her and slams on the brakes at 60mph, the female again has to nearly wreck to avoid running into them. As the female passes them again, the female driver of the offending vehicle starts yelling at the female victim to pull over and they are going to whoop her [email protected]$. Female driver lifts up her .380 which is in a wallet holster with the handle completely covered. Offending female driver states” I don’t even know what that is” Female victim driver states “it’s a gun, leave me alone”. Several miles down the road, the female victim is pulled over and arrested for brandishing a firearm. The “gun” was never visible!

      Comments please!

      1. As I understand it, the gun does not need to be drawn for it to be brandishing. Even the act of ‘printing’ (when clothing around the gun is tight enough to leave a silhouette of the weapon) can be considered brandishing in some states as it presents the threat by your choice of clothing. Her continuing to harass them and then lifting her weapon into view intentionally is what got her in trouble. She was holding a weapon in a way as to intimidate the other driver. If she had just told them “I will not pull over, you need to leave me alone, I am armed to defend myself.” She probably would have been fine. But she wanted to intimidate them, which is why she lifted the weapon for them to see.

    3. I live in Virginia, and read the code. I can’t determine whether if someone is trespassing on private land and is approached by the owner with a shotgun, does this constitute “Brandishing”? In one sentence the code states in public, which is a class 1 misdemeanor, and in another sentence says on private land which is a class 6 misdemeanor. Doesn’t make sense to me.

    4. I was recently arrested in an attempt to stop some agressor from reaching me, I revealed my weapon, he stopped, I was arrested a week later. So much for protecting yourself. Next time, I’ll just let him hit me, if Im not too banged up. I’ll press charges when able.

    5. That is one law that needs immediate attention. But NO one will. With the coming and current Liberalist take over of Virginia, this “Loop Hole” law will be utilized over and over again, as “intent” will defined by the one offended NOT the one carrying. Virginia is just a few steps away from the events unfolding in New York.

    6. As a Virginian, I take great pride in our history.
      Over this past year I decided to open carry my
      Sidearm. I have found it welcomed in all establishments
      I visit and even got a few managers and employees who
      Have thanked me. Maybe because I wear my Mason ball cap
      With it may also set some at ease. I don’t touch it or show it off
      To anyone. If asked, I simply tell them what type of weapon it
      Is. I stand up straight and carry myself in a positive and
      Welcoming mannor. People recognize that if something bad
      Should happen, I will do my best to protect them.

      1. you guys elected a new Yorker…and you’re a swing (pink) state…I know for a fact Mason, Washington and Henry et. al are rolling in their collective graves..nuff said!

    7. I like our law better, to wit:
      Exhibition or use of deadly weapon. Every person who, not in necessary self-defense, in the presence of two (2) or more persons, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon in a rude, angry, and threatening manner, or who, in any manner, unlawfully uses the same, in any fight or quarrel, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    8. The ignorant Virginians have elected an anti-gun Governor , I hope they get what they deserve for this love of communist bastards .

    9. To Phil: I understand what you are getting at, but some armed robberies have been committed in the same manner. People wearing hoodies with the hood up and darting around or otherwise acting suspiciously, wearing the long duster type coats with their hands in their pockets and several other maybe non intended threatening gestures can get some people in convenience stores and other businesses very nervous.

      I have known some armed employees telling customers to remove their hands from their pockets or possibly get shot. The long dusters can very easily have a concealed shotgun under it. People that have their hoodies up in a store and moving around in a suspicious manner, cause attention to be created for themselves.

      Just be careful of the motions you make in certain situations. Don’t give reason for an employee to think you are a criminal. If you don’t act like a criminal, you won’t be perceived as one.

    10. So by their definition, if I were to stick my hand into my coat or jacket pocket, I would be banishing.

      Even if there was no weapon and the person that is worried didn’t know that?

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