Thursday, February 13, 2014

VA-ALERT: Legislative Update and BREAKING NEWS on trusts!

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1. Legislative update for legislation heard on 2/12/14
2. BREAKING: Good news for those with Class III trusts!
3. BREAKING: 9th Circuit rules California "may issue" law unconstitutional!

1. Legislative update for legislation heard on 2/12/14

On Wednesday two pro-gun bills were killed in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee and one was passed out of committee. While 3,145 of you responded to the last Action Item on these three bills (thank you!), that means about 23,000 did not help out. That isn't how we win these battles. Please don't expect other people to carry your weight. And DO NOT assume that because your Senator or Delegate is a Democrat that you needn't bother to contact them. There are many Democrats that vote right on gun bills, some more than other, but we need their votes whenever we can get them:

HB 705 was KILLED (6-9) by a partisan vote. Delegate Todd Gilbert introduced this bill at VCDL's request. It would honor concealed handgun permits from all other states, allowing us to carry in Georgia, New Hampshire, and Colorado.

Shamefully the Virginia State Police opposed this bill. They claimed that an officer with a traffic stop *needs* to be able to verify an out-of-state permit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Oh, baloney.

Unless the permit holder was committing a crime with his gun instead of committing some moving violation in his vehicle, showing his permit is all the officer needs to see. In fact, the State Police have never been able to provide the number of times any officer has even done such a check. My guess: zero or very close to zero.

If the out-of-state permit holder committed a serious crime, the police will have plenty of time to check on the permit - and that will probably be the least of their interest in such a case.

Senator Stuart spoke to the committee on the importance of HB 705 and we thank him and the others for their support. A big thanks to Delegate Gilbert for introducing the bill and putting up a good fight for it.

Voting anti-liberty: Marsh, McEachin, Saslaw, Howell, Lucas, Edwards, Puller, Petersen, Wexton

Voting pro-liberty: Norment, Obenshain, McDougle, Stuart, Vogel, Stanley


HB 878 was KILLED (5-9) by a partisan vote. Delegate Dave LaRock introduced HB 878 to help those Virginia gun owners who are stuck in localities, such as Henrico, where the Chief Law Enforcement Officer refuses to sign off on a Form 4 for the purchase of a Class III firearm. Senator Obenshain offered an amendment to try to save the bill, but the amendment was rejected on a partisan vote.

Voting anti-liberty: Marsh, McEachin, Saslaw, Howell, Lucas, Edwards, Puller, Petersen, Wexton

Voting pro-liberty: Norment, Obenshain, McDougle, Stuart, Stanley

Not present due to weather: Vogel


HB 962 PASSED (8-6) out of committee on a BI-PARTISAN vote and heads to the Senate Floor. HB 962 was introduced by Delegate Ben Cline at VCDL's request. It **clarifies** current law that a person without a CHP can have a loaded handgun in a CLOSED, but not necessarily LOCKED, compartment or container while in a vehicle or vessel.

Voting anti-liberty: Marsh, McEachin, Saslaw, Howell, Lucas, Puller

Voting pro-liberty: Norment, Edwards, Obenshain, McDougle, Petersen, Stuart, Stanley, Wexton

Not present due to weather: Vogel

On Friday an anti-gun bill, SB 510, introduced by Senator Favola will be heard in the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law subcommittee. That bill's House counterpart, Delegate Simon's HB 48, already died in that same committee. Hopefully SB 510 will meet that same fate.

2. Good news for those with Class III trusts!

Attorney and VCDL EM, John Pierce, posted this very important information on his blog site yesterday:

The VSP has clarified the machine gun registration issue

Posted on February 11, 2014 by John Pierce

Last week I wrote about a recent Attorney General's opinion which stated that machine guns could not be registered to trusts in Virginia.

At the end of that article, I noted that I was waiting for a callback from both the Virginia State Police and the ATF regarding the next steps for those affected by the opinion.

Today, I spoke with Virginia State Police Legal Services Officer Tom Lambert and I received some very good news for those who currently own a machine gun in a trust, have an application pending to transfer a machine gun to their trust, or those who simply wish to do so in the future.

According to Mr. Lambert, there has been quite a bit of miscommunication concerning the issue and the impact of the opinion is not nearly as dire as we have been led to believe.

Let me see if I can summarize our discussion …

Apparently the State Police has, for quite some time now, required one of the trustees of a trust to register any machine guns owned by the trust in their own name (as trustee) when submitting a form SP-115. The name of the trust would then be entered in the field for 'BUSINESS FIRM OR GOVERNMENT ENTITY NAME'.

This allowed the State Police to register the machine gun in accordance with their interpretation (since validated) of the Uniform Machine Gun Act while still allowing trusts to 'own' the machine guns for ATF application purposes.

So what changed?

Last year a trustee challenged this policy, demanding to only provide the name of the trust on the Sp-115 without revealing his own name. His argument was that the trust owned the firearm and therefore the trust was the only legal entity that should be required to submit its information on the form.

That case provided the impetus for the original question submitted to then-Attorney General Cuccinelli which gave rise to the now-infamous opinion that many of us, myself included, interpreted as a complete bar to machine gun ownership by trusts in the Commonwealth.

But that is not the how the State Police interprets the situation.

According to Mr. Lambert, the position of the State Police has not changed in the slightest. AG Cuccinelli's opinion merely validated their current process in the face of the challenge raised by the trustee who did not wish to submit his personal information to the registry.

As far as they are concerned, trusts may still own machine guns so long as the SP-115 registration form is submitted within 24 hours of the machine gun's acquisition and is completed by submitting the name of one of the trustees in Part A with the name of the trust included in the field reserved for 'BUSINESS FIRM OR GOVERNMENT ENTITY NAME'.

He went on to say that they are aware of Delegate LaRock's bill (HB 1266) to correct this issue.

In the meantime, he assured me that no one needs to withdraw a pending application to the ATF nor do they need to fear if they already have a registered machine gun owned by a trust. Machine gun collectors may breathe a collective sigh of relief.

I have also spoken with my point of contact at the ATF and he confirmed that they have been in contact with the VSP and are aware that there is no bar to approval of machine gun applications for trusts in the Commonwealth.

So … to summarize … while it is absolutely true that machine guns may not be currently 'registered' to trusts in Virginia, the VSP are more than willing to let a trust 'own' the machine gun so long as it is registered at the state level to a trustee of the trust.

3. BREAKING: 9th Circuit rules California "may issue" law unconstitutional!

California may yet get dragged into the 21st century, albeit kicking and screaming. The ruling does not affect Virginia or even our neighbor Maryland, but it does set up for a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court. There may be hope for Maryland yet.

Thanks to EM Dave Hicks for the link:


Ninth Circuit holds Second Amendment secures a right to carry a gun

By Eugene Volokh
February 13 at 1:26 pm

So holds today's Peruta v. County of San Diego (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014) (2-1
vote). The court concludes that California's broad limits on both open and
concealed carry of loaded guns — with no "shall-issue" licensing regime that
assures law-abiding adults of a right to get licenses, but only a "good
cause" regime under which no license need be given — "impermissibly
infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms in lawful
self-defense." The Ninth Circuit thus joins the Seventh Circuit, and
disagrees with the Second, Third, and Fourth Circuits. (State courts are
also split on the subject.)


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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