Group says federal gun bill poses threat to Virginia’s public safety

As lawmakers in Washington prepare to head home for August recess, a new fact sheet released today demonstrates the local impact a gun bill up for debate on Capitol Hill would have on states like Virginia.

The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act would force Virginia to allow unvetted people from out of state – including people who have not passed a background check and people with no firearm safety training – to carry loaded, hidden guns in public spaces. It’s important to note that this bill would not create a consistent national requirement across states for who is able to get a concealed carry permit, but instead forces states to recognize the concealed carry laws from other states, including states that have weaker standards for what it takes to carry a loaded, hidden gun in public.

“Make no mistake, this dangerous legislation, championed by the corporate gun lobby, has been specifically crafted to overrule each state’s careful judgments about how to best to protect public safety,” said Peter Ambler, Executive Director of Americans for Responsible Solutions. “If this bill passes, people who currently do not meet Virginia’s requirements for what it takes to carry a loaded, hidden gun will nevertheless be automatically authorized to carry concealed in Virginia’s public spaces. Forcing states like Virginia to comply with weaker laws from other states will endanger public safety and make it more difficult for police to enforce gun laws that have been proven to save lives.”

Currently, Virginia has the right to choose which states’ concealed carry permits it recognizes, which is important because the requirements to carry hidden, loaded guns in public vary drastically from state to state. If the concealed carry reciprocity bill passes, that would no longer be the case and Virginia would be forced to allow unlicensed, unvetted people from out of state to carry concealed guns in public spaces.

As of today, 12 states – including Virginia’s neighbor West Virginia – do not require any permit or training to carry hidden, loaded guns in public. If this bill becomes federal law, almost any person from these 12 states would be allowed to carry concealed in Virginia, regardless of whether that person meets Virginia’s standards for what it takes to carry a concealed gun in public, such as completing a safety training and passing a background check.

To illustrate the devastating impact this bill would have on Virginia’s public safety, the fact sheet, released today byAmericans for Responsible Solutions, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, compares the requirements to carry concealed in Virginia to the requirements to carry concealed in West Virginia, illustrating how this bill would drastically weaken Virginia’s laws if enacted.

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“This proposal would make it easier for dangerous people, like stalkers and domestic abusers, to carry hidden guns in Virginia,” said Cathy Easter, Executive Director of Safe Harbor. “Under this plan, a survivor of domestic violence could never feel truly safe or completely escape their accuser by going to another state. As our elected leaders in Washington debate this legislation, I hope they consider the many domestic violence survivors who would be threatened by this bill.”

“As more police are being assassinated in ambush killings than in any other time during the past two decades, now is not the time for us to be making it easier for dangerous people from out-of-state to carry loaded, concealed weapons here in Virginia,” said Frank LaPorta, Captain (Ret.) of the Virginia Beach Police Department. “This bill would have a disastrous impact on public safety and law enforcement. I hope our state’s elected leaders in Washington will do the responsible thing for Virginia and reject this irresponsible measure.”

“As a law enforcement professional, I swore an oath to protect our communities from harm. Federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity will make it harder for law enforcement to uphold that oath,” said Tim Heaphy, Former US Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. “As leaders in Washington prepare to vote, they should remember the broad opposition among law enforcement for this irresponsible legislation.”

“As Commonwealth’s Attorney, I have seen how guns, whether in the hands of dangerous or untrained individuals, can lead to tragedy. We need to be making it easier for law enforcement to protect our communities and do their jobs, not harder,” said Michael R. Doucette, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Lynchburg. “This proposal would take Virginia in the wrong direction; making it easier for unlicensed, untrained and unvetted persons to carry loaded concealed weapons in our state. I hope our elected leaders in Washington will listen to members of law enforcement who are overwhelmingly opposed to this federally mandated concealed carry reciprocity.  This is a safety issue for each state to determine for itself, not Congress.”

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