Firearms Safety

The Arlington County Police Department encourages all firearm owners to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safest environment for your family and anyone entering your home. To assist in keeping our community safe, we’re sharing information regarding firearms safety tips, services and resources. 

General Firearms Safety Tips

Having a firearm comes with responsibilities and the safe handling and storage should be a top priority of all gun owners. These tips are provided for educational purposes and should not be considered comprehensive.


  • Store firearm(s) in a lock box, cabinet or firearm safe that includes a keyed, combination, or biometric lock 

  • Secure firearm(s) unloaded with the safety on  

  • Store ammunition in a separate, securely locked container 

  • Ensure firearm storage keys are inaccessible and out of the reach of those who should not have access to them 


  • Always treat a firearm as if it is loaded 

  • Keep the firearm pointed in a safe direction to prevent injury or property damage 

  • Always keep your finger off the trigger until you intend to fire the weapon 

  • Ensure the location you clean your firearm is free of other people and distractions 

  • Familiarize yourself with and obey all Federal, State, and local laws regarding the purchase, possession, carrying, use, storage, and disposition/sale of firearm 

Children and Firearm Safety 

  • Keep firearms locked and out of reach of children 

  • Educate your children to treat all firearms as loaded and dangerous 

  • Instruct children not to touch firearms and tell an adult if they locate one  

  • Adults should model responsible behavior in the presence of firearms  

Report Theft or Loss of a Firearm 

  • Lost or stolen firearms pose a threat to public safety 

  • To report a theft or loss of a firearm in Arlington County, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency 

Voluntary Firearm and Ammo Turn In

Community members who wish to voluntarily turn in firearms and/or ammunition for destruction should contact the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222. An officer will then be dispatched to your residence to take custody of the firearm and/or ammunition. When the officer arrives, direct them to the firearm which should be left in a safe location. The officer will ensure the firearm is unloaded and rendered safe before taking possession of it and filing the appropriate paperwork for destruction.  

Concealed Handgun Permit

Arlington County residents wishing to carry a concealed weapon must submit a concealed weapon application to the Clerk of the Circuit Court. Additional application instructions and information can be found on the Clerk of the Circuit Court website. Answers to common firearms/concealed weapons questions can be found on the Virginia State Police website

Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO)

What is an Emergency Substantial Risk Order?  
Virginia Code § 19.2-152.13 provides that under limited emergency situations, firearms may be temporarily relinquished to law enforcement, pursuant to an Emergency Substantial Risk Order (ESRO).  

Obtaining an Emergency Substantial Risk Order 
Following an independent investigation, law enforcement can petition for an ESRO with a judge or magistrate if probable cause exists that a person poses a substantial risk of injury to him/herself or others in the near future by their possession or acquisition of a firearm. If the judge or magistrate agrees that probable cause exists as described above, an ESRO will be issued which “prohibit[s] the person who is subject to the order from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for the duration of the order.”   

What happens after an Emergency Substantial Risk Order is issued? 
Law enforcement will serve the ESRO on the person subject to the order and direct that individual to turn over or relinquish any firearms in their possession to law enforcement. No later than 14 days after the issuance of the ESRO, the Arlington County Circuit Court will hold a hearing to determine whether a substantial risk order should be entered. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person poses a substantial risk of personal injury to himself or to other individuals in the near future by such person's possession or acquisition of a firearm, the court will issue a substantial risk order. The order will prohibit the individual from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm for the duration of the order (up to 180 days). A substantial risk order may continue to be extended if the court finds that the person continues to pose a substantial risk of personal injury to him/herself or to other individuals in the near future by such person's possession or acquisition of a firearm. 

Can I request an Emergency Substantial Risk Order? 
If you know of someone with a firearm acting in a concerning or threatening way, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 9-1-1 in an emergency. The responding officer will conduct an independent investigation and this process provides necessary procedural safeguards to ensure that no firearm is removed without due process. 

Additional Emergency Substantial Risk Order Information 
For additional information regarding ESROs, visit the Commonwealth’s Attorney website

Lock and Talk (Presented by the Department of Human Services)

Lock and Talk is a suicide prevention strategy designed to limit access to firearms, poisons, and medication from someone who may be at risk of suicide. For additional information about the program and how to obtain a free cable and trigger lock for firearms, visit the Department of Human Services website