Virginia law allows open carry of a firearm for individuals eighteen years or older who have never been convicted of a felony. However, as criminal defense attorney Rebecca Wade discusses on this week’s FAQ Friday, brandishing a firearm is an offense that could have serious legal ramifications.

“Brandishing a firearm is to hold or point a gun in a manner that would reasonably induce fear in another,” says Wade. “So while you are allowed to be outside in the open with a gun, you can’t just walk up and point a gun at someone. That would clearly be brandishing a firearm.” These charges often arise when people go out drinking and get into an argument which then leads one of the individuals to threaten the other with a firearm.

So long as the gun in not being pointed or held in a manner that is intended to induce fear in someone, it is not considered brandishing. “For example, if someone is walking around with a firearm that is secured in a holster, that’s legal,” explains Wade. “But the minute that individual takes the gun out of the holster and points it at someone on a corner, that’s now considered brandishing and you can be arrested.”