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Friday, January 18, 2019

VSSA Endorses Willes Lee for Re-election to NRA Board

The Virginia Shooting Sports Association Board of Directors has voted to endorse Willes Lee for re-election to the NRA Board.  We are proud to support a fellow VSSA member and strong advocate for the right to keep and bear arms.  Willes does a great job traveling around the country promoting our rights, and he is just as active here in Virginia.  If you follow him on social media, you know what great work he does.
Willes is a self-described "Army brat" who also had an Army career.  He grew up in Arlington, attending Peyton Randolph, Thomas Jefferson, and graduated from Wakefield High School. His daughters went to Lake Braddock while Willes served at the Pentagon. He did the world travel thing via Army base, and is now home again with extended families in Northern Virginia. In learning of the endorsement Willis said:
I am proud to have VSSA's endorsement, as a Board member and as a Virginian.
Celebrities and big name folks will likely get elected so to elect Willes, "bullet voting" is the best method. Vote for one (hopefully, Willes), perhaps three if one knows & trusts three, and absolutely no more than five.  Also, there are approximately two million members eligible to vote but only a fraction of that number cast ballots last year.  So, your vote is important!

Ballots will begin showing up in mail boxes via NRA magazines (or in an envelop if you subscribe to digital magazines) this week. Article III, Section 6 of the NRA bylaws states in part that: “Fully paid lifetime members and annual members with five or more consecutive years of membership, as shown in the Association’s membership records, who have obtained the age of 18 years on or before the fiftieth (50th) day prior to the date of the annual meeting of members and who are citizens of the United States of America shall be entitled to vote. Each such member shall be entitled to cast a vote for not more than one person for each vacancy on the Board of Directors to be filled by the membership at any election of Directors ….”

If you’re not certain of your membership status, or if you lose or misplace your ballot, then please contact NRA Membership.

Please share this endorsement and forward as widely as possible to hopefully hit potential NRA voters, even in surrounding states.  Good luck Willes in your re-election campaign.

Senate Version of Northam Gun "Assault Firearm" Bill Introduced

The Senate version of Governor Northam's "assault firearm" ban bill was introduced yesterday.  Senator Ebbin's SB1748  prohibits any person to knowingly and intentionally possess or transport any assault firearm or to knowingly and intentionally carry about his person, hidden from common observation, an assault firearm.  The legislation redefines "assault firearm" as "any semi-automatic center-fire rifle or pistol that expels single or multiple projectiles by action of an explosion of a combustible material and is equipped at the time of the offense with a magazine that will hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition or designed by the manufacturer to accommodate a silencer or equipped with a folding stock."

Last night, the House, Militia, Police, and Public Safety defeated the Delegate Tran's version of Governor Northam's gun ban bill.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 Defeats Northam Gun Grab

After a three hour marathon meeting, the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 dealt a blow to Governor Northam's gun ban proposals. All of the bad bills on the docket, including his attempt to ban and confiscate any firearm that is capable of holding a magazine of more than 10 rounds, were defeated and the one good bill, Constitutional Carry, was reported and rereferred to Appropriations.  The complete results are below.

HB2253 Nonresident concealed handgun permits; time of issuance.
Subcommittee recommends reporting (4-Y 2-N)

HB1616 Firearms; use or display during commission of a felony, killing or injuring police animals, penalty.  Subcommittee recommends striking from docket (6-Y 0-N)

HB1644 Firearms; reporting when lost or stolen, civil penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 2-N)

HB1654 Prohibited public carrying of certain firearms in public areas; penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 2-N)

HB1691 Manufacture, import, sale, transfer, or possession of undetectable firearms; penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 2-N)

HB1763 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk of injury to himself, etc., penalties.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 2-N)

HB1856 Firearms; libraries owned or operated by localities.
Subcommittee recommends laying on the table (4-Y 2-N)

HB1956 1956 Firearms, etc.; permitted events.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB1957 Children in need of services; disposition, certification by parent that firearms are secure.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB1992 Localities; regulation of firearms in government buildings.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 2-N)

HB2244 Firearms; possession or transportation following convictions for certain misdemeanor crimes. Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB2285 Minors; allowing access by minors, penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB2399 Firearms; transfer, criminal history record check delay.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB2479 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB2492 Firearms magazines and firearms, certain; penalties, prohibition of sale, transfer, etc.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

HB2604 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty.
Subcommittee recommends passing by indefinitely (4-Y 1-N)

It has been a good two days for gun owners but we cannot get complacent.  If we lose the majority in this year's General Assembly elections, all of the above bills that failed tonight will become law.

Senate Courts of Justice Report

Yesterday's Senate Courts of Justice Committee meeting was long and VSSA was posting live results on Twitter.  For the most part the meeting had good news for Virginia gun owners, but also provided a glimpse of what will happen if we lose the pro-rights majority in this year's election.  Right now, the committee is made of of 15 members - 9 Republicans and 6 Democrats.  One of those six Democrats, State Senator Creigh Deeds, votes with gun owners sometimes but most times not.  State Senator John Edwards also used to be a reliable pro-rights vote but he has almost completely abandoned law abiding gun owners.  Most of yesterday's votes were along party lines, including SB1162, Senator Saslaw's bill that would have gradually raised the age to purchase a long gun from 18-21.  It is possible that Deeds voted for the bill because it also included a so-called "universal background check", which he has supported since 2007.  Senator Saslaw noted in presenting his bill that he was also the one that put in the bill in the 80s that raised the drinking age 18-21 which drew some laughter.  Senator Obenshain responded that bill was likely as unpopular.

What really caused this observer concern was how some Republicans did everything they could to try to "fix" SB1458, the "Red Flag" bill.  A lot of time was taken to amend the bill and in the end, it died on a tie vote.  Senator Glen Sturtevant (R), who likely would not have been elected without a large turnout of gun owners in his district, joined the six Democrats in voting to report the bill. Senator Norment (R) did not vote.  The bill is not completely dead because the gun ban lobby could try and get one of the no votes to reconsider their vote, bring it up again when Senator Norment is there, and try to get a different result.  VSSA will continue to watch this bill until crossover when it will be completely dead for the session.  One bad bill did report from the committee - SB1163 which bans any accessory that could make a firearm fire faster including common trigger modifications used by competitive shooters.  Republicans Senators Norment, Stanley, and Sturtevant, joined all of the Democrats to advance the bill.

Another thing that caused concern was the number of gun ban supporters that were in the audience.  Besides the usual suspects like Andrew Goddard and Lori Haas, who have been staples at Senate Courts since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the Gabby Giffords gun ban organization also had a lobbyist.  Bloomberg's "Moms Demand Action" had several local volunteers wearing t-shirts in the audience who also got up and spoke in favor of bills.  The counsel for the City of Richmond Police was at the meeting supporting a number of the gun control bills, including SB1162 as did the Charlottesville Chief of Police and the Henrico County Clerk of Circuit Court.

Below are the bills that were reported and the bills defeated yesterday.
SB 1012 Firefighters and emergency medical services providers; carrying a concealed weapon.
SB 1048 Auxiliary law-enforcement officers; purchase of service handguns or other weapons.
SB 1158 Carrying a concealed handgun; permit not required.(Reported and rereferred to finance - this bill died in Finance last year)
SB 1163 Firearms; trigger activators designed to increase the rate of fire, prohibition, penalty.(Reported and rerefered to Finance - this bill can still be defeated before it would reach full Senate)

SB 1034 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty.
SB 1084 Firearms; use in commission of crime, civil liability for negligent gun storage.
SB 1162 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, age requirement, penalty.
SB 1303 Firearms; chambers of local governing bodies.
SB 1324 Firearms; reporting when lost or stolen, civil penalty.
SB 1446 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty.
SB 1454 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, penalty.
SB 1458 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk, penalties.
SB 1473 Firearms, etc.; permitted events.
SB 1482 Firearms, certain; prohibition on carrying in public places.

House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 meets this afternoon at 4:00.  VSSA's legislative team will be there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Governor Northam's Gun Confiscation Bill on Militia Police and Public Safety Sub 1 Docket Thursday

The General Assembly is wasting no time taking up gun bills this session.  The Senate Courts of Justice Committee will hear a number of bills at Wednesday's meeting.  And, it is possible that Governor Northam's big gun grab may not last even a week after introduction of the bill.  On Thursday, House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 will hear a number of gun bills, including HB 2492, Governor Northam's bill to ban the possession, sale, and transfer of  "any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition."  The meeting will take place at 4:00 PM in 400-C Subcommittee Room.  There will also be other gun bills on the docket but HB2492 is by far the big one.  Please contact committee members and urge them to defeat HB2492 and as well as the other anti-rights bills that will heard.

Governor's Bill Bans Possession of "Assault Firearm" as Advertised in Jan. 4 Press Announcement

House Bill 2492, the Governor's sweeping legislation to ban so-called "assault weapons" in the Commonwealth does indeed ban possession, not just the sale and transfer of the firearms.  It does this by changing the definition of an "assault firearm" as it is currently in the Code of Virginia by including "any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. This would affect most firearms on sale in Virginia.

Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon has reported on the legislation and appeared on NRATV's Cam and Company to talk more about the Governor's proposed gun confiscation plan.  He said the Governor's office will not return his calls to answer questions of how they plan to enforce this if the bill passed.
Rest assured that the VSSA legislative team is working to defeat this an all of the gun ban legislation that has been introduced in the legislature.  Call your Delegate now and urge them to oppose HB2492! This bill should be a wake up call to all Virginia gun owners.  If we don't get involved in this year's elections, this is the type of legislation that could pass in 2020.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Bureau of Justice Statistics Report Confirms Small Number of Criminals Get Guns Through Retailers

The Crime Report has this story that says there is very little proof that gun background checks cut crime.  They are able to make this statement thanks to a new Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report released yesterday that says Less than 2% of all prisoners obtained a firearm from a retail source and possessed (1.9%) or used (1.3%) it during their crime.
Overall, an estimated 287,400 prisoners possessed a firearm during their offense. Among prisoners who possessed a gun during their offense, 90% did not obtain it from a retail source. More than half (56%) of prisoners who possessed a firearm during their offense had either stolen it (6%), found it at the scene of the crime (7%), or obtained it off the street or from the underground market (43%). Fewer than 1% had obtained the firearm at a gun show (0.8%).
These numbers are similar to other BJS studies of prisoners.  Now it is possible that after the background check was instituted in 1993 that criminals turned to other sources other than retailers for their guns but those looking to say there is a gaping "loophole" at gun shows where private sales are not required to under go background checks can take no solace from this report.  Less than 1% of the prisoners went to gun shows to get their guns.

Duke University public policy expert Philip Cook did tell the Crime report that it is possible that as state that dedicates resources to enforcing "universal" background checks will have good results but added not all programs are going to be equally effective.

We've already seen in states like Colorado that have "universal" background checks that even when a state dedicates large resources, much of that appropriation goes unused, mostly because the projected surge in background checks never materializes, either due to non-compliance, or more likely, the number of privates sales has always been overstated.

Either way, we have confirmation from the new BJS story that "universal" background checks will not reduce crime.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

U.S. Senator Mark Warner Signs on To Feinstein Gun Ban Bill

No real surprise that Virginia's senior U.S. Senator Mark Warner has come full circle back to his gun ban roots by joining as a co-sponsor on California Senator Diane Feinstein's "Assault Weapon" legislation.  After all, he penned an Op/Ed in the Washington Post last year about why he now supported such a ban after voting against it in 2013.  That Op/Ed generated this response from VSSA.

As that response pointed out, according to FBI Uniform Crime Report data, rifles of all kinds are used in a small percentage of firearm related homicides which means specific types of rifles like AR-15s are used in even less.  But that doesn't matter to the gun ban crowd.  They throw around terms like "military style" to make the general public think that firearms used by the military are for sale to civilians.  They all speak from talking points given to them by the gun ban lobby.

Senator Warner was never a 2nd Amendment supporter.  He simply used a strategy devised by Democratic Strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, to get elected Governor in 2001, and continued to groom that persona while Governor.  It is true Warner signed a number of pro-gun bills during that time but it should also be noted that he worked hard behind the scenes to keep a full repeal of Virginia's "one gun-a-month" law from passing.  He would only sign a bill that allowed concealed handgun permit (CHP) holders to buy more than one handgun in a 30 day period.  Before running for Governor, Warner had supported a ban on modern sporting rifles (1996) and three years before that he supported a five day waiting period to purchase a handgun (1993).  I wonder what Saunders thinks about the Mark Warner of today from what he sold voters in 2001.

The Fight Against Governor Northam's Gun Control

Democrat Governor Ralph Northam started off 2019 with a slate of new gun-control legislation that would fundamentally change gun ownership in Virginia. In addition, other gun ban legislators have proposed additional restrictions beyond what Northam laid out last Friday. For instance, Senator Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) has introduced a bill to raise the age for purchasing a long gun from 18 to 21. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with fellow Virginian and NRATV host Cam Edwards, to talk about the plausibility of stricter gun control laws being signed into state law.

You can catch the latest 2nd Amendment news from Cam on NRATV's Cam and Company every weekday at 5:30 or anytime on demand.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

General Assembly Convenes Today - VSSA Legislative Tracking Page Up

With the General Assembly convening at noon today, the VSSA Legislative Tracking web page is updated and available for gun owners to check the status of legislation affecting your firearm freedom.  In addition to the legislative tracking page, VSSA will post committee meeting updates live on our Twitter and Facebook pages.  VSSA's legislative team will be on the ground at the GA every day of the session working for Virginia's gun owners.

TRS: Governor Northam's "Assault Weapon" Ban Would Include Rifle That is Favorite of Boy Scouts

The Republican Standard blog has this piece that points out how Governor Northam's "common sense gun safety" proposals would prohibit rifles that are standard for Boy Scout marksmanship training.
Among the bills in the sweeping proposal is one which the governor said, according to his announcement, “modifies the definition of assault firearm to any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

Northam’s proposal would “ban the sale, purchase, possession, and transport of assault firearms in the Commonwealth,” according to the announcement.

The measure is not the same as a magazine capacity restriction, which bans possession of the magazines themselves, depending on capacity. Similar magazine bans were introduced by lawmakers in previous years, and may resurface in 2019.

Detachable magazines are interchangeable on semiautomatic firearms. Consequently, any firearm which accepts detachable magazines is equipped to fire more than 10 rounds in a detachable magazine of varying size, and would be banned.

Detachable magazines are used in common firearms, from the AR-15 to the 10/22, the common .22 rifle used by scouting groups and other youth, which even comes in an edition officially licensed by the Boy Scouts of America.
Also note that Northam's bill would ban not only the sale, but also the possession of, so-called "assault rifles" in the Commonwealth. This means that the Governor would expect the hundreds of thousands of Virginians that own the rifles to turn them in.  Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax campaigned on a platform to confiscate firearms in 2017 so it would not be out of the whelm of possibility for the Governor to pick up that mantle.

In related news, VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment attorney Steve Halbrook told Dana Loesch yesterday that Governor Northam's gun ban proposals are just one more step of trying to "Californacate" Virginia.

If this is not enough to prove that the 2019 General Assembly elections will determine if Virginia's gun owners begin to face what California and New Jersey gun owners already face, nothing will.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Governor Northam Outlines Gun Control Policy For General Assembly

On Friday Governor Ralph Northam rolled out the gun control bills he will be pushing in the 2019 General Assembly. WHSV in Harrisonburg has the story here.
Included in the package of seven bills is a so-called "universal background check" bill with the goal of prohibiting the private sale of firearms, firearm confiscation without due process via so-called "red flag law", reinstate Virginia’s handgun rationing law, prohibit individuals subject to final protective orders from possessing firearms; ban modern sporting rifles; prevent children from accessing firearms; and require individuals to report lost or stolen firearms to law enforcement.  All of these proposals have failed in the past.  But Virginia's once strong pro-rights majority in the House of Delegates is down to a one member majority with the same in the State Senate.  It is not certain if Republicans will remain unified in opposing the "red flag" bill.  A similar measure was passed by the Republican majority legislature in Florida and signed by Republican Governor Rick Scott after the Parkland school shooting.  The 2019 General Assembly gavels into session on Wednesday January 9th.