House Republicans advance gun lobby agenda

Democrat vs. Republican on whiteHouse Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 on Thursday passed several bills that will make firearms more accessible and permissible in more locations by more untrained people, in direct opposition to the efforts of the Governor and Attorney General.

“As a veteran, I understand the great responsibility that comes with bearing firearms.  However, my colleagues today have shown that they care more about special interests than the safety and security of all Virginians,” said Delegate John Bell (87th – Loudoun). “Legislation considered today weakens many laws that were supported by every other member of the subcommittee in the effort to score political points.  I urge my Republican colleagues to come to the table in good faith to find commonsense solutions to protect our citizens.”

Many states in the nation do not have as rigorous licensing procedures for concealed carry permits as Virginia does. Allowing those who have been convicted of substance abuse or domestic violence, for example, into Virginia with a concealed firearm is reckless and unsafe.

Attorney General Mark Herring took steps earlier this month to make sure that those who come in to Virginia with an out-of-state permit to carry a concealed firearm have met or exceeded the requirements to have such a permit from Virginia. These bills passed today aim to reverse that decision:

  • HB1163 – Webert: A valid concealed firearm permit issued by another state is acceptable in the Commonwealth. (HB12 – Ware was incorporated.)
  • HB1107 – Lingamfelter: The rules regarding concealed firearm permits that were active on December 1, 2015 will be effective until June 1, 2018.
  • HB1201 – Marshall, R.G.: If out-of-state concealed firearm permits were accepted as of November 1, 2015, they’re now recognized again in Virginia.

Governor Terry McAuliffe recently banned firearms from state general services buildings – doing what he can to keep his employees safe at work. Two bills that passed the subcommittee today aim to reverse that decision:

  • HB382 – Fowler: Prohibits state agencies, higher education institutions, and other governing bodies from banning firearms in locked vehicles on their property. Any such rule adopted after July 1, 2016 is invalid.
  • HB1096 – Webert: Any firearm regulation law or rule established after July 1, 2016 is invalid. (HB593 – Marshall, R.G was incorporated.)

A bill passed by the subcommittee today would allow members of the Virginia National Guard to possess concealed handguns. While seemingly innocuous, these bills and others like it increase the constituencies that can possess a concealed handgun, with the end goal of everyone having a concealed firearm without a permit. Such measures also weaken and blur the lines of a commanding officer’s jurisdiction. The bill passed today chip away at licensure of those who wish to carry a concealed firearm:

  • HB90 – Taylor: Members of the Virginia National Guard can possess concealed handguns on National Guard facilities with a valid permit. The bill also provides that a member’s commanding officer can prohibit a member from such activity. (HB119 – Webert was incorporated.)
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