Thursday, January 26, 2012

VA-ALERT: Legislative Update - good news! 1/26/12

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1. Good night for gun owners!
2. News coverage of gun bills

1. Good night for gun owners!

It was a good night for gun owners! Freedom won, tyranny lost.

Tonight the House Militia, Police, and Public Safety subcommittee #1 met with the following results:


HB 20, Delegate Wilt, protects the right of citizens to carry and transport firearms during a declared emergency (VCDL Strongly Supports)

HB 22, Delegate Cole, requires localities to try to sell guns they are in possession of instead of just destroying them (VCDL Strongly Supports)

HB 26, Delegate Cole, provides a $25 civil fine for failure to produce a CHP if demanded by a law enforcement officer (VCDL Strongly Supports)

HB 375, Delegate Pogge, allows local government employees to be able to store their guns in their personal vehicles while at work (VCDL Strongly Supports)

HB 940, Delegate Lingamfelter, repeals Virginia's One Handgun a Month law (VCDL Strongly Supports)


HB 364, Delegate McClellan, perennial "gun show loophole" bill (VCDL Strongly Opposes)

HB 458, Delegate BaCote, allows localities to ban guns in libraries (VCDL Strongly Opposes)

2. News coverage of gun bills

Richmond Times Dispatch (with a poll):

Senate panel backs repeal of one gun a month law

Republican control of the Virginia Senate could result in more gun-rights legislation moving out of the Courts committee.

By: Jim Nolan | Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: January 26, 2012

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would eliminate Virginia's one-gun-a-month restriction on handgun purchases, setting up what could be the most significant change to Virginia's gun laws in years.

The committee deferred until next year consideration of a bill that would exempt from state background checks long guns and rifles purchased from gun dealers, and a senator withdrew from consideration a bill that would have restricted public colleges and universities from enacting regulations to bar the carrying of firearms on campus. Currently, the state's schools can enact their own regulations banning guns on campus.

Gun-rights advocates are pushing a number of bills, emboldened by a conservative wave of Republican lawmakers who were elected in November and tipped the Senate's balance to the GOP. Republicans have an 8-7 majority on the Courts committee, which Democrats controlled last year.

In 1993, the legislature approved the one-gun-a-month restriction, advocated by then-Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, to address interstate trafficking of firearms in Virginia. Attempts to repeal the law had failed before this session, in which Republicans assumed control of the Senate for the first time in four years.

The vote on Senate Bill 323, sponsored by Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, was 8-6, with Sen. John S. Edwards, D-Roanoke, voting for passage with seven Republicans. Sen. Thomas K. Norment, Jr., R-James City, who was not present at the time of the vote, was recorded as abstaining. The vote came during a marathon five-hour meeting in which lawmakers took up a series of gun bills.

The repeal measure has strong support in the Republican-dominated House of Delegates, and Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated he is inclined to sign the bill.

Opponents of Carrico's bill said repeal of the law would hamper efforts to stem the flow of weapons.

"The only group that this law currently prohibits is gun traffickers," said gun-control advocate Andrew Goddard, father of Virginia Tech shooting survivor Colin Goddard. "Getting rid of the only law we have on the books ... is not going to make that problem go away."

Josh Horwitz of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence said the concern was not the purchaser of a couple of handguns during a month, but the "huge, bulk, multiple sales" of guns.

Advocates for the legislation said the current law has so many exceptions allowing for the purchase of more than one handgun a month — for people like police officers and holders of concealed-weapon permits — that everyday law-abiding citizens are the only ones who can't exercise a constitutionally protected right.

Carrico said only California, Maryland and New Jersey have similar laws, "which I don't want to be characterized with."

The senator was less enthusiastic about presenting Senate Bill 324, which would have restricted schools from imposing gun bans on campus. The bill had drawn opposition from numerous gun-control advocates and had received a tepid reception from McDonnell.

"It's not ready for prime time," he said, telling the committee he wants to address problems with the bill and bring it back next year.

The committee also approved a measure that would prohibit anyone subject to an emergency protective order after an arrest for domestic violence from having a gun in the home of their alleged victim. Senate Bill 554, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, was approved 9-6.

The committee also approved, along party lines, a bill that would immunize from civil liability a person who uses deadly force against an intruder in his home. Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Richard H. Stuart, R-Westmoreland, passed 8-7.

Senators also approved a measure that would prohibit localities from requiring fingerprints of first-time applicants for concealed-handgun permits.

"It's an onus on the law-abiding citizen and unnecessary," said Sen. Thomas A. Garrett Jr., R-Louisa, a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 67, with Sen. William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County.

Opponents, including gun-control advocates and the Virginia Municipal League said fingerprint checks are part of a system that helps identify people who are not qualified to carry concealed weapons. Roughly one-third of Virginia's communities require fingerprinting of applicants of concealed-weapon permits. The vote was 8-6, with Norment again abstaining by proxy.


From the Washington Post:

Va. gun purchase limits could be lifted
By Laura Vozzella

Virginia would lift its one-gun-per-month limit on handgun purchases
under a bill that passed a state Senate committee Wednesday.

The committee killed two other gun-rights proposals, which would have
done away with state background checks and allowed firearms on college

Pro-gun lawmakers have tried for years to eliminate the one-per-month
cap on handgun purchases, imposed in 1994 under Democratic governor
Doug Wilder in an effort to curb gun trafficking. But moderate
Republicans and Democrats always killed bills to that effect in Senate
committees and subcommittees.

The bill's emergence Wednesday from the Senate Committee on Courts of
Justice suggested that Richmond has grown friendlier to gun rights
since Republicans took control of the evenly divided Senate this
month. But the failure of two other pro-gun bills also indicated that
the gun lobby will not get everything it wants this General Assembly
session — even with the GOP in control of the House, Senate and
governor's mansion.

"I've definitely seen a big improvement over what would have happened
last year," said Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens
Defense League. "But it's definitely a mixed bag."

The bill lifting the one-per-month limit now heads for the Senate
floor, where it is expected to get a final vote by early next week.
Passage is expected in the Senate and House. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell
has indicated that he would sign such a bill.

"Of course it's going to pass the full Senate," said Senate Minority
Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), who opposed the bill. "We're
going to become the gun distribution center of the East Coast, just
like we were before."

Sen. Charles W. Carrico (R-Grayson) sponsored the bill to lift the limit.

"Now that we have background checks that we didn't have in 1994, one
gun a month has outlived its purpose," Carrico said.

Carrico noted that over the years, the law had been changed to exempt
law-enforcement officials and people with concealed-weapons permits
from the limit. If collectors anticipated picking up several firearms
at gun or antiques shows, they could simply apply to the state police
for a permit exempting them from the cap for several days, he said.

"I think everyone recognized the fact that the one-gun-a-month law has
had so many exemptions made to it, so many carve-outs, that its
usefulness has expired," he said. "When you're talking about Second
Amendment rights, you try not to [afford them to citizens] piecemeal,
and give some the authority and some not."

The bill passed the committee 8-6, with one Democrat, John S. Edwards
of Roanoke, voting in favor. One Republican, Senate Majority Leader
Thomas K. Norment of James City, was absent.

Carrico had less luck with a bill that would have prevented colleges
from banning guns from campuses. Gun-rights advocates, wearing bright
orange stickers that read "Guns Save Lives," suggested that armed
students and faculty could have prevented tragedies like the one that
struck Virginia Tech in 2007, when a shooter killed 32 people before
taking his own life.

The bill drew opposition from relatives of some students killed or
injured in that attack. Don Challis, chief of police at the College of
William and Mary, also traveled to Richmond Wednesday to express his
opposition. Challis said he doubted that in that sort of emergency, "a
person who rarely, if ever, shoots a weapon is going to be any kind of
positive factor."

Carrico agreed to have the bill continued until next year, in part
because he was unable to provide colleagues with the number of
students likely to bring guns to Virginia campuses.

"I just didn't want to be amending the bill on the fly," he said.

Sen. Richard H. Black (R-Loudoun) also appeared before the committee,
promoting a bill that would do away with state background checks on
gun buyers. Black said the state could rely on federal background
checks, which he said were more efficient than those conducted by
state police.

But Black eventually agreed to put his bill off until next year after
several committee members said they would prefer to beef up staffing
at the state police to speed up the checks they conduct.

Sen. Richard H. Stuart (R-Westmoreland) said he had "a real aversion
to giving anything to the federal government, with what I see them
being able to accomplish and not accomplish."


From WTOP:

Va. Senate panel backs 1-handgun-a-month repeal

Wednesday - 1/25/2012, 8:21pm ET

Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. - A Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed legislation to repeal Virginia's one-handgun-a-month law, but two other measures supported by gun-rights advocates were carried over until next year.

The Courts of Justice Committee voted 8-6 to send Sen. Bill Carrico's one-handgun-a-month repeal to the Senate floor, where it will be up for a vote next week. That law was enacted in 1994 to curb the trafficking of guns from Virginia into the Northeast.

In a victory for gun-control supporters, however, Carrico carried over until 2013 his proposal to prohibit public colleges and other "administrative bodies" from regulating gun possession unless specifically authorized by the legislature to do so. Opponents of the bill argued that it would make campuses less safe just five years after a student gunman killed 32 people and then himself at Virginia Tech.

The committee also voted to postpone until next year legislation to exempt rifle and shotgun purchases from state background checks.

Advocates for stronger gun laws had feared that last fall's election, which resulted in a more conservative General Assembly with both chambers under Republican control, would lead to passage of a slew of bills they opposed. They were pleased that two of the measures that concerned them the most were shelved for the year.

"The legislators are reacting to the citizens of Virginia and what they care about," said Lori Haas, whose daughter Emily was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings. "Guns on campus is an extremely unpopular position for anyone except a radical few."

Carrico, R-Grayson, said he pulled the bill because many of his colleagues have asked for information he is not prepared to answer _ for example, the number of college students who are 21 or older and eligible for a concealed weapons permit. He said the Virginia State Police also had problems with some of the bill's language that could not be easily revolved under the time constraints of a busy 60-day session.

The committee voted to postpone Sen. Richard L. Black's background checks legislation to allow the state police a year to try to resolve what Black described as unacceptable delays in getting approval for gun purchases.

Black, R-Loudon, said budget and personnel cuts have impaired the ability of the state police to expedite criminal background checks of gun buyers. He said the promised "instant background checks" now generally take from three hours to five days. He said Virginia gun dealers lost $39 million in sales last year when frustrated buyers walked away, and those lost sales cost the state $2.3 million in tax revenue.

Black's legislation would have shifted background checks for rifle and shotgun purchases to what he said is a much quicker federal program. However, a state police representative said the federal system does not cover all the bases that are covered by the state background check.

"I've talked to a lot of dealers and they like the state police system," Sen. Richard H. Stuart said. "They do tell me there have been some delays."

Annette Elliott, president of the Showmasters gun show company, said the average wait for approval in the state system is five hours. She said her company had to start offering free admission on Sundays so buyers could come back the next day to pick up a gun rather than wait around. Even so, she said about 12 percent of sales are lost because of delays.

Stuart said he was reluctant to turn anything over to the federal government, and the state police should be given an opportunity to fix the problem with additional funding that another senator has proposed in the budget the General Assembly will vote on later in the session. Black said he did not object to the delay.

The committee only briefly discussed Carrico's bill to repeal the one-handgun-a-month law. Carrico noted that the law has been amended several times to exempt certain classes of people, including Virginia concealed weapons permit holders. He said South Carolina recently repealed a similar restriction after determining it was ineffective.

But his chief objection to the law, Carrico said, is that it allows government to limit how often an individual exercises his 2nd amendment rights.

Andrew Goddard, director of the Virginia Center for Public Safety, urged defeat of Carrico's bill. He said repealing the only law on Virginia's books intended to curb gun trafficking "is not going to make the problem go away."

The committee rejected a motion to send the bill to the Virginia Crime Commission for a year of study, then voted to send it to the Senate floor.

Gov. Bob McDonnell will sign the bill if it passes, spokesman Tucker Martin said.

VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
(VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization
dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

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