Tuesday, January 14, 2014

VA-ALERT: Urgent: Gun bills to be heard Thursday at 4 PM!

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This Thursday at 4 PM in the 4th Floor West conference room of the General Assembly Building, the Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee #1 is going to hear and vote on the gun bills below.

If you can attend, please do so. We will have Gun Saves Lives stickers to hand out. The General Assembly Building is at the corner of 9th and Broad streets in Richmond on the southeast corner of the intersection (across from Richmond City Hall). It is a nine-story building.

CHP holders are allowed to carry in the building. Have your CHP and government issued photo-id ready to show security when you enter the building.


HB 357, Delegate Anderson, allows a concealed handgun permit applicant to get a copy of information in his own application file. This provides a method to verify that the information in the file is accurate and also as a way to verify that permits are being issued properly.

HB 705, Delegate Gilbert, changes the concealed handgun law to honor the concealed handgun permits from all other states if the permit holder is at least 21 years old. The out-of-state permit holder will have to also show government-issued photo-identification at the request of a law-enforcement officer. By honoring all other states, Virginia permits will be honored in more states, including Georgia, New Hampshire, and Colorado.

HB 878, Delegate LaRock, requires the chief law-enforcement officer to certify a request for the transfer of a firearm that is covered under the National Firearms Act (NFA), unless the officer knows the person receiving the firearms is prohibited from doing so. This bill will make ownership of NFA firearms uniform across the state. Currently the chief law-enforcement officers in some jurisdictions refuse to do any such certification, while others do them as a matter of course.

HB 962, Delegate Cline, clarifies that a loaded handgun can be stored in a closed, but not necessarily locked, container or compartment in a vehicle or a vessel. This codifies a recent Attorney General's opinion. The original bill for the current law used the word "secured" when introduced. It was later changed to "locked" in the Senate and passed both bodies that way. The Governor changed the word "locked" back to "secured" and that was the term used in final passage, clearly showing the General Assembly in the end had no intent for the container or compartment to be locked.

HB 1118, Delegate Wilt, allows a person who presents a concealed handgun permit and a government-issued photo identification to purchase a firearm without having a state background check performed (Federal NICS check is still performed). This will speed up gun purchases and reduce paperwork for those citizens who have had a background check performed to get their concealed handgun permit.


HB 448, Delegate Bell, Robert B., deals with restoration of gun rights. The bill adds a provision that the petitioner shall obtain a set of fingerprints from a law-enforcement agency and provide the agency with a copy of the petition. The law-enforcement agency shall forward the background check information under seal to the Court, which will notify the Commonwealth Attorney of the petition.

HB 736, Delegate Lingamfelter, creates a lifetime concealed handgun permit. This bill is much more complicated than Delegate Campbell's HB 644. It also has very high fees for non-residents, which will make it one of the most expensive permits in the country (albeit a lifetime permit, though). Besides lowering the non-resident fees, there are other changes that need to be made to the bill. For example, the state police should automatically issue a non-resident permit to a person moving out of state at the same time that the state police revoke that person's resident permit. Also an applicant should simply be required to provide the state police a current passport photograph instead of allowing the state police the option of specifying some non-standard size for the photograph. Other states use passport photographs, which are easy and inexpensive to obtain, and so should the Commonwealth.


HB 61, Delegate McQuinn, prohibits non-residents from purchasing long guns from a Virginia gun dealer. Why would the state restrict Virginia gun dealers from selling to out-of-state residents? The sales require a background check and we are not experiencing any problems with such sales. This bill is a solution in search of a problem.

HB 535, Delegate Plum, requires all private sales at gun shows go through a background check. The Virginia State Crime Commission did not recommend this bill when asked six years ago. A gun show may not even be able to find a willing dealer to do such background checks due to the paperwork and the 20-year retention of that paperwork. The private sale background check requirement is just the first step in ultimately setting up a total private-sale registration-scheme and it will unnecessarily raise the price of privately sold guns. It will also make it much harder to hold a gun show in Virginia, which bring a lot of revenue to the Commonwealth. Finally, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, few guns used in crimes are purchased at gun shows, so this bill will have no noticeable affect on crime.

HB 695, Delegate Torian, restricts the training courses that can be used to qualify to get a concealed handgun permit. The restrictions only allow courses that focus on concealed handguns and requires non-residents to have a concealed handgun permit from their own state, which may be virtually impossible in places such as Maryland, the District of Columbia, New York City, Hawaii, etc. We are not having a problem with training in Virginia, so this is a solution in search of a problem and it will make it harder for a law-abiding citizen to get a concealed handgun permit.

HB 809, Delegate Lopez, prohibits possession, importation, purchase, or sale of a magazine that will hold more than 20 rounds. A person consenting to a background check to become a "registered" magazine owner and police (of course) are exempted. This bill will only make inadvertent criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Criminals will end up with 30-round magazines while normal citizens will be forced to carry smaller magazines, putting them at a disadvantage for no good reason. Next time the restriction will be 10 rounds.

HB 810, Delegate Carr, creates yet another felony for something that is already illegal. This one for anyone who willfully discharges a firearm with no discernible or designated target. How would an officer determine what target someone is or is not shooting at? If the officer thinks a person is aiming too high or too low to hit a target, that would be a life-altering felony? How would the accused be able to prove what he was aiming at? There are already laws for endangering others, that is sufficient to cover someone performing celebratory gunfire. This bill is based on a sad, but extremely rare case of someone getting hit by a bullet fired into the air. The rarity of anyone is harmed by celebratory gunfire, the fact that other laws cover celebratory gunfire, and the unenforceable nature of HB 810, makes this bill unnecessary. The money would be better spent on educational advertisements discouraging such a misuse of a rifle or handgun.

HB 812, Delegate Lopez, requires the private sale of a firearm be done through a dealer (universal background check). This will make it conserably harder and more expensive for a person to sell one of their firearms, with no effect on crime. Under this bill, a private sale would require finding a dealer who will do the transer (none have to), tranfering the gun to the dealer, the dealer doing a background check (that can take up to 3 days to do), and then finally transferring the gun to the purchaser. The fee for such a transaction can be in the $45 to $60 range. A straw purchase can easily circumvent all of this and put the gun in the hands of a criminal anyway. The recent mass shootings around the country, besides being done in "gun-free zones," have all involved guns where a background check was run.

HB 823, Delegate Lopez, requires a gun show promoter to pay the state police to do optional background checks on someone purchasing a firearm from a person who is not a dealer. There will be a fee for the check to be run. The bill exempts the seller, if such a check is run, from liability in the sale to the purchaser, which therefore implies that there is liability for the seller otherwise. This bill will cost gun shows money and the private seller money. It also attempts to twist the arm of the private seller to have the check done and pay the fees.

HB 992, Delegate BaCote, allows localities to prohibit the otherwise lawful carry of firearms, ammunition, or components in a library. Definitely a solution in search of a problem. Gun owners have been carrying in libraries for years without incident.


HB 100, Delegate Lingamfelter, restricts how far back in time a Circuit Court Clerk must protect information dealing with concealed handgun permit holders. Currently there is no time limit. HB 100 sets the cut-off date as July 1, 2008, with the intent to not unreasonably burden Circuit Court Clerks with redacting of older records. VCDL wants the date to go back 10 years to at least to July 1, 2003, in which case VCDL will go from "Oppose" to "Neutral" on HB 100.


HB 828, Delegate Minchew, specifies that an instructor teaching a class to get a concealed handgun permit must be a firearms instructor. This appears to be a solution to a non-existent problem.

HB 1055, Delegate Bulova, specifies that an instructor teaching a class to get a concealed handgun permit must be a firearms instructor. This appears to be a solution to a non-existent problem.

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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