By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleFebruary 28, 2013
To ensure the safety of the Fort Belvoir community, military members and their Families must register privately owned firearms within 72 hours of arriving on the installation.
Firearms are not allowed to be stored in Fort Belvoir housing and lodging areas. Servicemembers should contact their unit for information about storing weapons.
"Registration lets the garrison know what type of guns are on post and how many people have guns," said Jason LaPalme, The Exchange, Sporting Goods and Toy Department manager.
Gun owners must complete the registration forms and send them to the Visitor Processing Operations Center. Once registered, firearms are only allowed to be transported to a storage location or off post. There is no transportation of firearms allowed on Fort Belvoir. Residents are authorized to travel off post with their weapon and when they are returning travel straight home.
"They're not allowed to stop at gas stations or anywhere else," said LaPalme, who manages the selling of firearms on post. "If they are leaving post with a weapon, they need to head straight for the gate."
Registration is not required for firearms that are permanently stored off post. LaPalme said community members should understand the Commonwealth of Virginia's gun laws when they carry their weapon off the installation. With the exception of machine guns, firearms do not require registration in Virginia, according to the Virginia State Police website.
A person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun. To purchase a handgun, you must be at least 21 years of age. LaPalme said Virginia is an open carry state, as long as the weapon is clearly visibly. However some counties, such as Fairfax, do not allow open carry as permitted by statue in the Code of Virginia, so residents should read the code to understand where they can openly carry their weapon.
The Commonwealth of Virginia requires residents and non-residents to apply for conceal-carry permits. Any person 21 years of age or older may apply in writing to the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he or she resides for a five-year permit to carry a concealed handgun. Servicemembers may apply to the county or city of their permit residence. LaPalme said active-duty servicemembers and retirees should have their identification cards and copies of their orders and separation documents when applying for a conceal permit.
Army and Air Force Exchange Service beneficiaries who reside in Virginia can purchase a firearm at the Fort Belvoir gun shop. To purchase a firearm, Exchange patrons must be a Virginia resident or be permanently assigned to an installation in the state of Virginia.
Buyers fill out Form 4473, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Firearms Transaction record and Form SP-65 of the Virginia Department of State Police to verify they are eligible to purchase a firearm. Both forms are sent to the State Police upon completion for approval. Soldiers, or their Family members living on Fort Belvoir, who buy a firearm must register it with the Fort Belvoir Directorate of Emergency Services within 72 hours after the purchase is approved by federal and state authorities.
LaPalme recommends community members rent different styles of guns before purchasing a firearm, which provides an opportunity to establish a comfort level with the weapon. LaPalme said potential buyers should consider factors such as recoil and weight. After purchasing a firearm, he recommends people actively use their weapons at shooting ranges to maintain a comfort level.
"Know why you're purchasing a firearm," LaPalme said, "Your safety and the safety of the people around you should be your first concern."
To search for information from the Code of Virginia visit http://leg1.state.va.us/000/src.htm.
For more information on state guns laws visit www.vsp.state.va.us/Firearms.shtm.