Weapons-related Offenses

What is considered a “weapon?”

Code of Virginia § 18.2-308.1. lists numerous types of weapons that are prohibited on school property or at school-sponsored events. Those listed in §§ 18.2-308 and 18.2-308.1. include:

  1. stun guns;
  2. knife with a blade of three or more inches;
  3. pistol, revolver, or other weapon designed or intended to propel a missile of any kind by action of an explosion of any combustible material;
  4. dirk, bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, metal knucks, or blackjack;
  5. any flailing instrument consisting of two or more rigid parts connected in such a manner as to allow them to swing freely, which may be known as a nun chahka, nun chuck, nunchaku, shuriken, or fighting chain; and
  6. any disc, of whatever configuration, having at least two points or pointed blades which is designed to be thrown or propelled and which may be known as a throwing star or oriental dart.

Code of Virginia § 18.2-308.1 defines a handgun as “any pistol or revolver or other firearm, except a machine gun, originally designed, made and intended to fire a projectile by means of an explosion of a combustible material from one or more barrels when held in one hand.”

Under what circumstances can a weapon be brought onto school property?

Code of Virginia § 18.2-308.1 specifically exempts the following:

i. persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of the school's curriculum or activities;

ii. a person possessing a knife customarily used for food preparation or service and using it for such purpose;

iii. persons who possess such weapon or weapons as a part of any program sponsored or facilitated by either the school or any organization authorized by the school to conduct its programs either on or off the school premises;

iv. any law-enforcement officer;

v. any person who possesses a knife or blade which he uses customarily in his trade;

vi. a person who possesses an unloaded firearm that is in a closed container, or a knife having a metal blade, in or upon a motor vehicle, or an unloaded shotgun or rifle in a firearms rack in or upon a motor vehicle; or

vii. a person who has a valid concealed handgun permit and possesses a concealed handgun while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.

What types of disciplinary action can be taken with a student who brings a weapon to school?

Section 22.1-277.07. of the Code requires school boards to expel students who bring a firearm or other destructive device (defined in the Section) onto school property or to a school-sponsored event in violation of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994.

Reportable Offense

Disciplinary action for possession of other types of weapons must be in accordance with local school board policies. See Virginia Board of Education, Student Conduct Policy Guidelines (PDF).

What weapons fall under the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994?

The term “weapon” in the Gun-Free Schools Act refers to a firearm and is defined by federal law (Section 921 of Title 18 of the U.S. Code) as “…(A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive; (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer, of (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.”

This definition, it must be noted, also does not include knives. However, schools may enact broader policies if they desire.

Click each offense below to read the DCV Definition

W1P — Possession of Ammunition

W2P — Weapon/Chemical Substance

W3P — Weapon/Look-alike

W8P — Possible Weapons - Razor Blades, Box Cutters

W9P — Possible Weapons - fireworks, firecrackers

WP0 — Possession of a BB Gun

WP1 — Weapon - firearm, handgun, pistol

WP2 — Weapon - firearm, shotgun/rifle

WP4 — Weapon - expels a projectile

WP5 — Weapon - knife

WP6 — Possession of Explosive Device

WP7 — Use of Bomb or Explosive Device

WP8 — Weapon - Other Firearms

WP9 — Weapon - other

WS1 — Possession of stun gun

WT1 — Possession of a taser

VDOE Discipline, Crime and Violence Definitions

The Virginia Department of Education updates DCV Definitions annually.

For more information on reporting, visit VDOE's School Safety section.

Code of Virginia

The Virginia General Assembly has posted the entire Code of Virginia online for web searching. You can perform a search by using key word(s), phrases or section numbers. You can also use the Table of Contents to view all Titles, Chapters, and Sections.

To explore the searchable Code of Virginia, go to the Virginia General Assembly Legislative Information System (LIS).