Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Military Personnel Under 21 to Have CHP

Yesterday Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he had vetoed HB1582, a bill that would have allowed active duty and retired military members who are under the age of 21 to apply for concealed handgun permits.  The Governor stated:
Contrary to the assumption of House Bill 1582, weapons familiarization training as a component of an individual's military basic training does not qualify that individual to carry weapons in follow-on service. Under the bill, an individual who has completed basic training but who subsequently was disqualified (for medical or other reasons) from having access to weapons could nevertheless apply for a concealed handgun permit.

My concerns about the bill are in no way a reflection of my respect and support for the brave young men and women who serve our nation in uniform. I have made this decision to veto this bill after consultation with military leadership, including Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Admiral John Harvey, USN (Ret), who dealt with this issue extensively throughout his 39-year career in our Navy. House Bill 1582 reflects an incomplete understanding of weapons qualification practices within our military and is an unwarranted expansion in the number of people allowed to carry handguns in the Commonwealth. It would do nothing to protect the safety of our citizens.
Governor McAuliffe is the one who reflects an incomplete understanding of the CHP process.  It also plays into the stereotype that CHP holders don't seek additional training beyond the basic requirements to apply for a permit.  If McAuliffe completely understood it, he would know that the current process allows someone who had only completed a hunter safety course to qualify for a CHP.

I've never served in the military but I have to believe that "weapons familiarization training" provided during basic training has to at least provide the level provided in a hunter safety course.  Even if someone who completed basic training but was disqualified for medical or other reasons that resulted in an honorable discharge would have the basic knowledge to be approved for a CHP.  We trust these folks to defend our nation but we don't trust them to properly carry a concealed firearm?

The Governor also vetoed HB1432, a bill that authorizes any person to carry a switchblade knife concealed when such knife is carried for the purpose of engaging in a lawful profession or lawful recreational activity the performance of which is aided by the use of a switchblade knife. The bill removes switchblade knives from the list of weapons the selling, bartering, giving, or furnishing of which is a Class 4 misdemeanor. McAuliffe's veto message stated in part:

There is no compelling need to add to the list of weapons that can be lawfully concealed from public view and easily traded. Legalizing the concealed carry of switchblade knives would needlessly endanger the lives of Virginians. Furthermore, the laws of the United States prohibit the manufacture, transportation or distribution of switchblade knives.


HB1582 passed the House of Delegates 78-19, a veto proof margin that included a significant number of Democrats.  It passed the State Senate 24-15 with Senator Frank Wagner not voting.  That is three votes short of being able to override the Governor's veto.  Presuming that Senator Wagner, who is running for Governor touting his Second Amendment bona fides, votes with the majority, that leaves the total two short.  Some of those who voted against the bill live in areas representing a large number of military personnel.  Gun owners should immediately contact their Delegate and State Senator and urge them to override the Governor's veto.

HB1432 failed to pass either house by a veto proof margin.  Its fate faces an uphill climb to find the votes to override the veto.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vote “YES” on 2017 NRA By-Laws Amendments

Earlier this month, VSSA members should have received their NRA February member magazine where NRA President and VSSA Life Member Allan D. Cors urged NRA members to approve the proposed by-laws amendments:
If you’re a voting member of the National Rifle Association, you’ll soon receive your ballot for this year’s NRA elections. As usual, you’ll have the chance to vote for candidates to fill one-third of the NRA Board’s 75 seats (and, sadly, one additional vacancy due to the death of Board member Buster Bachhuber). But you’ll also have the opportunity to vote on a comprehensive package of important NRA bylaw amendments that have been unanimously recommended by the NRA Board. These proposals deserve your support and your “YES” vote.
The VSSA Board of Directors joins the NRA Board and our fellow member, NRA President Allan Cors, in support of the bylaws amendments and urge all VSSA members who are also NRA Voting Members to vote yes on the bylaws changes.

Key aspects of the NRA Bylaws haven’t been updated for over 30 years. The proposed amendments are designed to protect the NRA’s democratic processes from those who might intend to harm the Association, while also reflecting the new world of high-tech politics.

Here are the key changes:

  • Amendments to the recall election process ensure voting members’ choices are respected, by improving the fairness of the process for member removal of officers and directors. NRA officials could only be removed for good cause, such as violating the Bylaws or disrupting NRA operations. Allowing dismissal of frivolous or malicious recall would save NRA resources that could be much better used to advance Second Amendment rights. 
  • Repealing the Annual Meeting Bylaw amendment process ensures that changes in the NRA’s Bylaws are made either by the elected Board of Directors, or by the mail ballot process that reaches all of our voting members. 
  • The amendments update signature requirements for Board nominating petitions, recall elections, and Bylaw amendment proposals—raising the very small requirements set three decades ago to be more consistent with a membership that’s grown five-fold, and the greater use of online communications. To allow for future growth, the amendments include signature requirements based on percentages of valid ballots cast in the previous year's Board election. 

 More information is available to voting members of the NRA at http://www.nrabylaws.com.

VOTE "YES" ON THE BYLAW AMENDMENTS

Legislative Update

Crossover occurred on Tuesday, February 7th and as of that date, all anti-gun legislation had been defeated.  Bills ranging from the usual background check bills (so-called "gun show loophole", "universal" background checks), a bill requiring FFLs to sell so-called "smart guns", a bill reinstating handgun rationing, and a bill holding private sellers civilly liable is a gun they sell is used in a crime, among others, were killed.  Three pro-gun bills are already headed to Governor McAuliffe's desk:

HB1432- Carrying a switchblade knife; exception. Authorizes any person to carry a switchblade knife concealed when such knife is carried for the purpose of engaging in a lawful profession or lawful recreational activity the performance of which is aided by the use of a switchblade knife. The bill removes switchblade knives from the list of weapons the selling, bartering, giving, or furnishing of which is a Class 4 misdemeanor.

HB1582 - Concealed handgun permits; age requirement for persons on active military duty. Allows a person at least 18 years of age but less than 21 years of age to apply for a concealed handgun permit if he is on active military duty or has received an honorable discharge from the United Stated Armed Forces or the National Guard and has completed basic training as a part of his military service. The bill allows reciprocity under the same circumstances for a nonresident who carries a concealed handgun or weapons permit recognized in the Commonwealth. Current law requires that residents and nonresidents be at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun.

HB1849 - Concealed handgun permit; permit requirements. Provides that a concealed handgun permit shall be of a size comparable to a Virginia driver's license and may be laminated or use a similar process to protect the permit. Current law requires that the permit be no larger than two inches wide by three and one-fourth inches long.


Legislation is going to be moving very quickly from this point forward.  Check the legislative tracking form daily for updates.

One of the more disappointing things about this year has been the defeat of Constitutional Carry bills.  Both the House and Senate versions of these bills were reported out of the respective committees (Senate Courts of Justice and House Militia, Police and Public Safety) but were then referred to Senate Finance and House Appropriations where they were killed due to a supposed fiscal impact:
Fiscal Implications: The proposed legislation would exempt any person who is authorized to open carry a handgun in the Commonwealth, from having to obtain a concealed handgun permit. The proposed bill also provides that an individual who qualifies to carry handgun under this subdivision is not required to demonstrate competency with a handgun under subsection B of § 18.2-308.02 or subsection B of §18.2-308.06.

Currently, under existing law, the court, local law enforcement and the Department of State Police may each charge a fee for processing an application for a concealed handgun permit not to exceed $50. The court collects $10 for the processing of an application or issuing of a permit, the local law enforcement agency may charge a fee of not more than $35 to cover the cost of conducting an investigation, and the Department of State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $5 to cover the cost associated with processing the application. For nonresident applications, the Department of State Police accepts and processes each application. There is a $100 fee associated with each nonresident application to cover the cost of the background check and issuance of the permit. All fees collected by the Department of State Police in the concealed handgun program are deposited into the general fund.

According to data from the Department of State Police (Department), an average of 70,192 resident concealed handgun permits, and 4,131 nonresident concealed handgun permits were issued in the years 2012 through 2016. Based upon available data, it collected a total of $1,221,695 in FY 2016 for both types of permits, which was subsequently deposited into the general fund. The proposed legislation would have an impact on general fund revenue and revenue collected by localities. However, because the number of individuals who would be exempt under this proposal is unknown, the estimated revenue loss to the state cannot immediately be determined at this time.

There is not enough data to estimate the impact to localities. According to the Compensation Board (Board), currently, based on best available data, the estimated revenue loss to state could be as much as $847,000 and the estimated revenue loss to localities could be as much as $240,000.
Fees charged for Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) were supposed to be revenue neutral, only covering the cost of issuing the permits.  But it appears from the Fiscal Impact Statement (FIS) that localities and the state have begun looking at CHPs as a source of revenue over and above what it costs to process the applications.  You will note that the FIS makes no mention of the reduction in costs to the State Police and localities if they no longer had to process some CHP applications, thus off setting the "loss" of revenue.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Frank Miniter: Five Things You Need to Know About Suppressors

Earlier this week, columnist Frank Miniter wrote an article posted on the America's First Freedom web site that was titled "Five Things You Need to Know About Suppressors."  In that article, Miniter starts off by writing:
There is an old joke that the “official NRA handshake” is a person saying “What?” as he or she cups a hand behind one ear.

I never liked this joke, as it makes light of a serious issue. Decades ago many gun owners didn’t think it was a big deal that they didn’t wear earplugs or muffs when hunting and at the range. Many shooters who grew up in that culture now have hearing loss or problems with tinnitus (ringing in their ears). Massive public education—much of it from the NRA—taught us about the dangers of shooting without ear and eye protection.
Miniter goes on to write the five things that people need to know about suppressors, things like the type of technology, and do they really make a gun "whisper quite." But to me, the most important thing he shares is how they work - information you can use when writing to your legislators when the Hearing Protection Act comes up for a vote to encourage them to support it:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that a decibel (dB) level greater than 140 can cause permanent hearing loss. Silencerco’s research has estimated that a silenced .22 LR rifle gives off about 116 dBs, a silenced 9mm pistol makes about 125 dBs, a jackhammer about 130 dBs and an unsuppressed .223 rifle about 165 dBs. So suppressors can lower the dB level below the detrimental 140 dB level. But OSHA also says that, over time, anything over 85 dBs can damage hearing. The point is, for the most part, even someone firing a suppressed firearm should still wear hearing protection.
Miniter writes that a bullet moving faster than the speed of sound also creates something called a "mini sonic boom" that suppressors will not eliminate, making the Hollywood myth that silencers or suppressors turn gunshots into a "pffft" noise is "nonsense."

Yesterday Miniter appeared on NRATV's NRANews Cam and Company to talk more about the article.

Legislative Update

As the General Assembly races toward "Crossover" on February 7th, bills both good and bad are being dispensed with at a rapid pace.  That is not to say that good legislation is not moving forward, but bills like "Constitutional Carry" cleared Senate Courts of Justice only to be killed by the Senate Finance Committee.  A complete list of bills and their current status can be found on the VSSA web site but below are details of the more important bills that were introduced and where they currently stand in the legislature:

HB1392School security officers; carrying a firearm in performance of duties.Authorizes a school security officer to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties if (i) he is a retired law-enforcement officer who retired or resigned in good standing, (ii) he has met the additional training and certification requirements of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), (iii) the local school board solicits input from the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality regarding the qualifications of the officer, and (iv) the local school board grants him the authority to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties. The bill requires DCJS to establish additional firearms training and certification requirements for school security officers who carry a firearm in the performance of their duties. Existing law requires DCJS to establish minimum training and certification requirements for school security officers. - Passed House

HB1406 - Restoration of right to possess, etc., a firearm. Provides that a person convicted of a felony, other than a violent felony, whose civil rights have been restored is not required to petition a circuit court for an order to possess, transport, or carry a firearm, ammunition for a firearm, or a stun weapon. The bill provides that such person's right to possess, transport, or carry such items is automatically restored upon the restoration of his civil rights. The bill has an effective date of January 1, 2019, contingent upon voter approval of amendments to Article II, Section 1 and Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia at the November 2018 general election. Died in Subcommittee

HB1432 - Carrying a switchblade knife; exception. Authorizes any person to carry a switchblade knife concealed when such knife is carried for the purpose of engaging in a lawful profession or recreational activity the performance of which is aided by the use of a switchblade knife. The bill removes switchblade knives from the list of weapons the selling, bartering, giving, or furnishing of which is a Class 4 misdemeanor. Passed House

HB1466 - Renewal of concealed handgun permits; notice. Requires the clerk of the court that issued a concealed handgun permit to notify the permit holder, at least 120 days but no more than 180 days prior to the expiration date, of the expiration date of the permit and the requirements for renewing the permit. The bill provides that such notice may be sent to the permit holder's address or, upon request of the permit holder, email or other electronic address. The bill provides further that any failure to send or receive such notice does not extend the validity of the existing permit beyond its expiration date. Passed House

HB1582 - Concealed handgun permits; age requirement for persons on active military duty. Allows a person at least 18 years of age but less than 21 years of age to apply for a concealed handgun permit if he is on active military duty or has received an honorable discharge from the United Stated Armed Forces and allows reciprocity under the same circumstances for a nonresident who carries a concealed handgun or weapons permit recognized in the Commonwealth. Current law requires that residents and nonresidents be at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun. Passed House

HB1849 - Concealed handgun permit; permit requirements. Provides that a concealed handgun permit shall be of a size comparable to a Virginia driver's license and may be laminated or use a similar process to protect the permit. Current law requires that the permit be no larger than two inches wide by three and one-fourth inches long. Passed House

SB989 Commonwealth's Twenty marksmanship award. Provides for the Commonwealth's Twenty marksmanship award to recognize the top 20 marksmen in Virginia. These top 20 marksmen shall be chosen from the Virginia state residents who compete at the annual Virginia State Championship matches sanctioned by the Virginia Shooting Sports Association . Passed Senate

SB1023 - Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information. Prohibits sharing of information regarding Virginia concealed handgun permits in the Virginia Criminal Information Network with law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill requires the Department of State Police to maintain and publish online a list of states that recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state. The bill does not create a private cause of action. Passed Senate

SB1299 - Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders. Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. The bill requires such person to have the order or certified application and photo identification on his person when carrying a concealed handgun and to display them upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; failure to do so is punishable by a $25 civil penalty. Passed Senate

SB1444 - Restricted ammunition; use or attempted use in the commission of a felony; penalty. Removes the prohibition on use or attempted use of restricted firearm ammunition in any non-felony criminal offense. The bill expands the definition of restricted firearms ammunition to include "pinched tip" bullets and expands the exception to such definition to include certain ammunition with copper cores. The bill provides that if any ammunition has been approved by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for commercial sale, it is not restricted firearms ammunition. Reported from Committee and on Second Reading in Senate

In addition to the above good bills, a number of bad bills including bills requiring firearm dealers to to stock so-called "Smart Guns", bans on carrying in public libraries, handgun rationing, so-called "universal" background checks, bills restricting parents from deciding when to introduce their children to the shooting sports, and bills making private sellers liable if a firearm they sell ends up being used in a crime, have all been defeated.

The VSSA legislative team has been working with the committees responsible and continues to work bills that are still active.  Be sure to check the VSSA Legislative Tracking Form regularly for updates.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Hill: NRA Set to Go On Offense

The Hill's story can be found here:
“For the first time in almost a decade, the NRA is shifting from a defensive stance to a pro-active stance,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. “We’re going from defense to offense.

“Now, we have a pro-Second Amendment Congress, and a pro-Second Amendment president, who will sign pro-Second Amendment legislation. That’s a huge shift.”
Among the NRA's top priorities is passage of concealed carry national reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act.  If you have been on the NRA web site recently you've probably noticed the first story is about contacting your senators to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  Not long after the election, NRANews released this video of Wayne LaPierre titled "Our Time is Now." And, the NRA is anticipating a supreme court pick that will return the number of justices to a pro-Second Amendment majority.  President Trump will announce his pick tonight in a prime-time address to the nation.

The Hill talked with Adam Winkler, a law processor and gun control advocate and he pointed out why the NRA has been so successful:
“One of the things that makes NRA such a political powerhouse is that, by and large, it stays focused on the issue it cares about: guns,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Whatever Trump might say about women and sexual harassment, that’s just not as interesting to the NRA. They are focused on what Trump will do for guns.”
As Wayne LaPierre said, now is the time.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Only 39 Voluntary Background Checks Run at 41 Gun Shows and Only One Buyer Denied Since July 1st

The Richmond Times Dispatch has the story here

Since the new law took effect July 1st placing state police at every gun show to run voluntary background checks on private sales of firearms, a total of 39 background checks have been run at 41 gun shows. That's an average of a little less than one check per 2 day gun show (the exception being the Chantilly gun show which usually opens on Friday evening).  But it gets better - only one prospective buyer has been stopped, a 21 year-old who agreed to undergo the background check when the seller requested he do so.  The buyer had an outstanding felony warrant and he was immediately arrested.

So, given the amont of money taxpayers are paying for the state police to staff the shows, is this really a good use of taxpayer money?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Will New 4th Circuit Court Ruling Allow Virginia CHP Holders to be Harassed in States Like Maryland?

Earlier this week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in an en banc opinion, in U.S. v. Robinson that after a lawful traffic stop, police may frisk a person suspected of having a firearm, regardless of whether that person has a concealed carry permit. VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment attorney and scholar Steve Halbrook told NRATV on Wednesday that the overly broad decision effectively means that armed is dangerous.

In states like Maryland and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia, it is not uncommon for someone stopped for a routine traffic violation to be harassed by the police once they learn the individual is a concealed handgun permit holder.  Currently, the Virginia State Police inform out-of-state law enforcement inquiring during a traffic stop if an individual has a CHP. This ruling could make the practice of harassment by anti-gun law enforcement even more frequent.


There is an opportunity to keep this from occurring however. There is currently a bill in the General Assembly that would prohibit the Virginia State Police from sharing information on concealed handgun permit holders with states that do not have CHP reciprocity with Virginia.  A similar bill passed in the General Assembly last year but Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the legislation.  VSSA will alert members if the bill passes the full legislature this year so you can contact the Governor and urge him to sign the bill.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

NSSF Launches Project ChildSafe Communities

Yesterday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), along with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma City leaders and law enforcement officials, launched Project ChildSafe Communities in Oklahoma’s Capitol, kicking off a national initiative designed to encourage responsible firearm ownership with an emphasis on secure firearm storage. The event marked the launch in Oklahoma City – the first event in the nation under the initiative – starting a year-long, community-led effort that is, among other goals, “Aiming for Zero” firearm accidents.

Project ChildSafe Communities is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and NSSF, which has sponsored Project ChildSafe since 1999. BJA awarded NSSF a two-year, $2.4 million grant to help promote additional firearm safety efforts on a national level by creating Project ChildSafe Communities in key cities around the country.
video
The initiative is also partnering with several local organizations representing conservation groups, mental health and suicide prevention advocates, veterans, retailers and hunting and shooting groups to help share messages and information about responsible firearm storage.

Their collective efforts will be backed up by community-wide messaging that that will appear in social media, in an upcoming public service announcement on TV and radio, and on billboards around the Capitol City region.

Through partnerships with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies and more than 3,400 organizational supporters, Project ChildSafe has helped educate firearm owners on the importance of gun safety, while distributing more than 37 million free firearm safety kits—which include a free gun lock—to communities in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

For more information on Project ChildSafe Communities and how to get involved, visit projectchildsafe.org.