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The carrying of a weapon in a handbag or other similar article, held in the hand or placed under the arm, constitutes concealment of a weapon on or about the person.
A .25 Titan handgun with five rounds of ammunition in the clip and one bullet in the chamber was discovered in defendant's zippered handbag by a deputy sheriff assigned to operate a court security scanner. Defendant expressed surprise at her arrest and stated that she did not know that it was against the law to carry the gun in her handbag without a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Defendant was charged and convicted of carrying a concealed weapon under the Commonwealth's concealed weapon statute, Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308. Defendant appealed.
Did the act of carrying a pistol in a handbag constitute concealment of weapon punishable under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-308?
The court affirmed the defendant’s conviction, noting that the purpose of the concealed weapon statute (Code § 18.2-308) was to interdict the practice of carrying a deadly weapon about the person while concealed and yet so accessible as to afford prompt and immediate use. The statute thus applied to a pistol carried in a lady's handbag which was easily opened and closed and carried near and about the carrier's person, the pistol being hidden from common observation but readily accessible for use or surprise if desired. The court noted that reversal of defendant's conviction would have, in effect, judicially sanctioned the carrying of a concealed weapon by all persons, male and female, who owned a shoulder bag or a handbag.