Friday, February 10, 2012

VA-ALERT: Legislative Update / Help with VA Beach Gun show

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1. Legislative Update 2/10/12
2. Virginia Beach gun show - help needed!
3. Press coverage of gun bills

1. Legislative Update 2/10/12

A lot has happened legislatively this week - some good, some not so good.

On Wednesday in the Senate Courts of Justice, the House version of the repeal of One Handgun a Month (Delegate Lingamfelter, HB 940) passed out of committee by the same margin as the Senate version of that bill had - 8 to 7. HB 940 just finished the first reading on the Senate Floor and should be voted on this upcoming Tuesday.


On Thursday in the House Militia, Police, and Public Safety subcommittee #1, the following ANTI-GUN bills were KILLED:

HB 797, Delegate Morrissey's bill to add another penalty to a person who is open carried and under the influence

HB 1257, Delegate Sickles bill, which is similar to Delegate Morrissey's HB 797

HB 1226, Delegate Torian's bill to give higher educational institutions the power to ban guns

HB 1197, Delegate McClellan's bill to create a new crime if a person doesn't report a lost or stolen gun quickly enough

The following PRO-GUN bills were KILLED:

HB 1223, Delegate Hope's bill to allow open carry in the General Assembly Building (this bill had some problems, though)

The following PRO-GUN bills were carried over until next year:

HB 859, Delegate Gilbert's bill to exempt CHP holders from the state background check (but not federal) when buying a gun

HB 1135, Delegate Ware's bill to recognize the CHPs from all other states


Today, Friday, the full Militia, Police, and Public Safety committee carried HB 1052, Delegate Anderson's airport terminal carry bill, over until next year.


I will be discussing what exactly happened to the pro-gun bills HB 1135 and HB 1052 in a future alert (including some video). STAY TUNED.


Constitutional Carry is dead (HB139, Delegate Cole) - it never got a hearing. This is called a "pocket veto" and was intentional done by Republican leadership, who did not want the bill to be voted on.

Virtually all the anti-gun bills are dead. A few bills we opposed have been fixed and VCDL may move those bills to neutral status.

Status of key PRO-GUN bills that are still ALIVE:

HB 20 (Delegate Wilt) and SB 245 (Senator Obenshain) protects our right to carry and transport firearms during an emergency

HB 22 (Delegate Cole) requires localities to try to sell firearms before destroying them

HB 25 (Delegate Cole) protects CHP information from being disseminated by Circuit Court Clerks

HB 26 (Delegate Cole) provides a civil fine of $25 for failure to produce a CHP when asked for it by law enforcement (instead of the worse class 1 misdemeanor that is currently the law)

HB 375 (Delegate Pogge) allows employees of local governments to leave guns in the private vehicles while at work

HB 754 (Delegate Cline) and SB 67 (Senator Stanley) removes fingerprinting first time CHP applicants as an option for localilties

HB 940 (Delegate Lingamfelter) and SB 323 (Senator Carrico) repeals One Handgun a Month

SB 563 (Senator Ruff) cleans up some issues in the concealed weapons code

SB 663 (Senator Smith) allows a CHP to be used as ID when voting

HB14 (Delegate Habeeb), HB 48 (Delegate Richard Bell), and SB 4 (Senator Stuart) Castle Doctrine. I expect SB 4 to die in the House for technical reasons

2. Virginia Beach gun show - help needed!

Please help out YOUR organization by volunteering for a shift or two to man the VCDL tables during the Virginia Beach Gun Show on February 18-19, 2012.

Remember – you get in for free and will have time to roam the show.

Please go to the website to sign up or email Gary Moeller directly at with any questions you might have.

We are very, very short on volunteers at the moment since we have two gun shows in the local area on the same weekend; one in Norfolk, the other in Virginia Beach. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Even a partial shift!

Thanks for your consideration!

3. Press coverage of gun bills

OGAM expected to be repealed

From Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Va. House likely to pass one-gun-a-month repeal today

By: Wesley P. Hester | Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: February 01, 2012

The House of Delegates is expected today to approve repealing the state's one-handgun-a-month law, with the state Senate likely to follow suit Thursday.

After significant debate Tuesday, legislation that would do away with the law — House Bill 940, carried by Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William — advanced to its final reading on a voice vote.

Lingamfelter said the law, approved in 1993 with the blessing of Gov. L. Douglas Wilder to stifle the flow of handguns from Virginia to the Northeast, is obsolete because of instant background checks and the state's numerous exemptions.

But Del. Patrick A. Hope, D-Arlington, said he feared a return to the gun trafficking of the 1990s.

"We were the gun-running capital of the nation," he said. "Let's be serious — is one gun a month really an undue burden?"

Lingamfelter said the law now merely inconveniences law-abiding gun collectors, noting that federal law already prohibits the transfer of guns across state lines and adding that nothing prevents criminals from acquiring guns in "back alleys and through theft."

Only four other states have a one-handgun-a-month law on the books and South Carolina repealed its version in 2004.

Attempts to repeal Virginia's law in years past had been quashed by a Democratic-controlled Senate. Republicans now maintain control of the chamber with Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling breaking ties in the evenly divided chamber.

Senate Bill 323, the counterpart to Lingamfelter's bill carried by Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, is expected to clear the Senate on Thursday after squeaking out of committee last week on an 8-7 vote.

Gov. Bob McDonnell has indicated that he will support doing away with the law.

"This is a very sad day for Virginia," said Del. Joseph D. Morrissey, D-Henrico, after the House vote. "The repeal of this law has set Virginia back almost two decades."


From the Virginian Pilot:

Legislature loads up on gun-rights initiatives

By Bill Sizemore
The Virginian-Pilot
© February 6, 2012

Gun-rights advocates are poised to win a marquee victory in the Virginia General Assembly, perhaps as early as today, with the potential repeal of the state's one-handgun-a-month limit.

Overturning Virginia's two-decade-old restriction on pistol purchases has long been a high priority of gun enthusiasts, and the repeal effort has grabbed the spotlight in an Assembly session widely seen as the most gun-friendly in years.

That, however, is only the beginning.

While the one-gun-a-month repeal has been attracting the headlines, more than two dozen pro-gun measures have been quietly marinating in the legislative stew.

Longtime Assembly observers say it's the biggest outpouring of gun bills in recent memory, prompted by the 2011 election in which Republicans wrested control of the state Senate from Democrats, putting both branches of the legislature and the Governor's Mansion in GOP hands.

Among the measures awaiting consideration is HB139, submitted by Del. Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania County, which would allow any lawful owner of a firearm to carry it concealed without a permit.

If enacted, the bill would essentially render moot the state's longtime policy of allowing concealed handguns only with a permit. Under existing law, permit applicants must be at least 21 and must apply in writing, under oath, to the clerk of the local circuit court. Before issuing a permit, the court consults with the local sheriff or police department, which runs a criminal background check on the applicant. The permit is good for five years.

To accommodate those who want to take a concealed gun into another state that has a reciprocal agreement with Virginia, Cole's bill would leave the permit system in place.

Philip Van Cleave, president of the pro-gun Virginia Citizens Defense League, said enactment of the "constitutional carry" bill is high on his group's wish list. "Four states have already done it, and it's working fine."

That measure hasn't received scrutiny by a committee yet. But another of the group's high-priority bills is well on its way to enactment: SB67, submitted by Sen. William Stanley Jr., R-Franklin County, would prohibit localities from requiring fingerprints with applications for concealed-handgun permits.

Current law allows localities, at their option, to require fingerprints, which are sent to the FBI in connection with the criminal background check. The prints are compared against a national database of criminal investigations.

About one-third of Virginia localities require fingerprints, according to Van Cleave. "It's expensive and unnecessary," he said.

Stanley's bill was passed by the Senate last week, 26-14. A companion measure, HB754, is on its way to the House floor.

The one-handgun-a-month repeal bill (HB940, SB323) has cleared the House and has won preliminary approval in the Senate. Gov. Bob McDonnell has said he will sign it, revoking one of the signature initiatives of former Gov. Doug Wilder.

Proponents of repeal say the restriction on pistol purchases has outlived its usefulness, rendered moot by today's national system of criminal background checks for gun buyers. Defenders of the current law say repeal would return Virginia to the days when it was known as one of the East Coast's leading havens for illegal gun trafficking.

"We're saying to the traffickers, 'Come on in, back your truck up to the door and take all you want,' " said Andrew Goddard, president of the Virginia Center for Public Safety, a gun-control group. His son Colin was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.

Among other pro-gun bills in the legislative queue is HB375, which would prohibit localities from adopting workplace rules that prevent employees from keeping firearms and ammunition in a locked vehicle at work. The measure has passed the House and has advanced to the Senate.

Proponents of the bill said localities must be stopped from infringing on workers' Second Amendment rights. Opponents drew grim scenarios of disgruntled employees snapping and shooting up the workplace.

Then there is SB663, which overlaps with another contentious debate in this Assembly session, over voter identification requirements. The measure would add concealed-handgun permits to the acceptable forms of identification that can be presented at the polls.

Derided by Goddard as "utter pandering," the bill has won preliminary approval in the Senate.

Still awaiting committee action in the House are these:

- HB91 would allow college professors with concealed-handgun permits to carry their guns on campus, overriding gun bans in place at most state colleges and universities.

- HB859 would exempt concealed-handgun permit holders from the state criminal background check required of firearm purchasers.

- HB1052 would repeal the prohibition on carrying firearms and other weapons in airport terminals.

A few pro-gun measures have failed to advance.

An initiative (HB237, SB612) to limit the state criminal background check to handguns only, exempting rifles and shotguns, has been carried over to the 2013 Assembly session.

So has SB324, which would pre-empt any administrative restriction on firearms without express authority from the legislature. If passed, that measure would nullify the current college and university gun bans. It remains a top-tier objective of gun-rights groups.

"We're not going to give up on that," Van Cleave said.


NPR coverage:


From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Va. Senate backs bill to repeal one-gun-a-month

By: Jim Nolan | Richmond Times Dispatch
Published: February 07, 2012

On a 21-19 vote, the Virginia Senate passed legislation Monday to allow the purchase of more than one handgun a month, foretelling what is likely to be one of the most significant changes in Virginia's gun laws in 20 years.

The Senate vote, coupled with passage last week by the House of Delegates, means the measure to repeal the one-gun-a-month law is likely to reach Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has indicated he would sign it into law.

Two Democrats, Sens. John S. Edwards of Roanoke and R. Creigh Deeds of Bath County, sided with Republicans. Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, the GOP Senate leader, voted with Democrats.

Virginians currently are prohibited from purchasing more than one handgun a month. The law, backed by Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, was enacted in 1993 in response to problems with interstate gun trafficking. Attempts to repeal it in previous years had failed.

But this year, with Republican control of the evenly divided Virginia Senate and its committees — as well as the backing of gun-friendly Democrats in rural areas — the bill advanced through the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and made it to the floor.

Proponents argued that the law is no longer necessary thanks to an updated computerized background check system. They also said the current law provides for so many exceptions that it is already diluted.

Sen. Charles W. Carrico Sr., R-Grayson, sponsor of Senate Bill 323, said the law would bring Virginia in line with most other states, noting that only Maryland, California and New Jersey have similar laws.

"Today, the Senate took a stand for the Second Amendment by eliminating an unnecessary and outdated law," Carrico said in a statement.

"We will continue to watch the one-handgun-a-month bills as they now flow through the opposite House," Philip Van Cleave, president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, wrote in an email alert to supporters that heralded the Senate passage with exclamation marks. "The albatross is almost dead."

Critics of the bill said lifting the ban would do away with reasonable controls that exist to thwart bulk-purchase gun trafficking between states.

Richard Cullen, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and a Republican who co-chaired the commission that led to the abolition of parole in Virginia, supported the one-gun-a-month law.

"In 1993, when the legislation passed, gunrunning was a major problem up and down the East Coast and I am convinced that this law had a significant impact in reducing gunrunning, so I'm disappointed that it's being repealed," he said.

Cullen said the law was one weapon, along with tough sentences for repeat violent offenders and other measures enacted at the time, to combat violence.

"I think we should be giving law enforcement tools, not taking them away. This is one of the few times I disagree with my Republican colleagues," said Cullen.

Sen. Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said he didn't see how allowing the purchase of more than one handgun a month would make Virginia or any of its neighbors safer. He noted that under the current law, anyone who purchased one handgun a month over the 20 years of the ban would have 240 handguns.

"If you need more than 240 handguns, then I would submit something's wrong with you," he said. "Something's gone wrong in your life."

Lori Haas, mother of Emily Haas, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, also decried the vote.

"Virginia has had more than its share of horrific tragedies perpetrated by criminals with easy access to firearms," she said. "It is a sad day when our legislators purposely make it easier for gun traffickers to do their dirty business." [PVC: Wow! That is over the top, even for Lori]


From Williamsburg/Yorktown Daily:

House Votes to Make Concealed Carry Info Private

By Hannah Hess, Virginia Statehouse News Friday, February 10, 2012

RICHMOND - Concealed carry permit holders and applicants have a right to keep their information - physical descriptions, criminal and mental health histories, and fingerprints - private, according to a bill that passed the Virginia House.

"I don't believe that entire list en masse should be published, because a lot of those people are under witness protection programs … (and) are trying to protect themselves from domestic violence," said Dominion Shooting Range Armorer David Robinson, of Richmond, over the pop of pistols in the shooting range lobby Tuesday in Chesterfield.

The measure proposed by Delegate Mark Cole, R-Fredericksburg, would protect the information provided by people who apply for concealed handgun licenses.

The bill, passed Wednesday by an 81-17 margin, would exempt data about concealed carry permit holders from public disclosure and the Freedom of Information Act, a transparency tool that makes public data accessible.

"When you publish those lists, you've basically given up names to criminals that are already after those individuals and that's what should really be protected," said Robinson, who holds a concealed carry permit and carries a handgun daily.

Jennifer Davies, 27, of Richmond, agrees with Robinson that concealed carry permit holders should have the freedom to publicize their status as a legal weapon-holder, or keep it private.

Davies, who teaches private firearms safety training classes at Dominion Shooting Range, said some students have their permit enlarged and framed, then proudly "hang it on their back door or garage doors."

Virginia gun stores offer badges, similar to a sheriff's badge, which concealed carry permit holders can pin to their jackets.

Davies said other permit holders hide the fact that they can conceal weapons because they "don't want to be harassed" by police or advocates of gun control.

In March 2007, many of the names on the list were made public by the Roanoke Times. The newspaper created a searchable online database of concealed carry permit holders in honor of Sunshine Week, a national initiative to raise awareness about open government and freedom of information.

Information was provided by the Virginia State Police, after the Roanoke Times filed a Freedom of Information request. The paper later removed the database and requested that the police verify the data.

"When we posted the information, we had every reason to believe that the data the State Police had supplied would comply with the statutes. But people have notified us that the list includes names that should not have been released," said Debbie Meade, president and publisher of The Roanoke Times, in a March 2007 statement. "Out of a sense of caution and concern for the public we have decided to take the database off of our website."

Editors at the Roanoke Times did not respond to requests for comment from Virginia Statehouse News on Tuesday.

Delegate Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, said exposing the names of gun owners could make those houses vulnerable to robbery by people who want to steal guns.

Delegate Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, who voted against the measure Tuesday, said he doubts any criminal would knowingly break into the home of a gun-carrying Virginian.

Another opponent, Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, said the information should be accessible to the public, so people know when they are encountering a concealed weapon holder. She said the issue is a basic matter of public safety.

A total of 17 Democrats voted against the measure.

The bill now heads to a Senate committee, which has not been assigned.

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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