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Monday, September 3, 2012

Do Online Classes Make it Easier for Non-Residents to Get VA Concealed Carry Permits?

Newspapers from Seattle to Minnesota are all a twitter with this AP report that Virginia's acceptance of online firearm safety classes to meet the safety requirement for a Virginia Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) may have made it easier for non-residents to obtain Virginia permits.
Virginia State Police issued 1,632 concealed-carry permits to nonresidents through the first half of 2012, topping the previous year's total of 1,321 nonresident permits. There was no corresponding increase in demand for resident permits, with just under half the previous year's number reached by mid-2012.
The report notes that while the state police do not track how many people take online courses, the state police said the increase took place after the General Assembly passed a law making it clear that online courses qualified as meeting the safety course requirement. 

Virginia's safety requirement is not overly difficult.  The CHP statute lists a number of course options that meet the requirement.  For instance, Virginia accepts any NRA training course and even accepts hunter education courses, to meet the firearm safety course requirement.  So, presuming that a nonresident applying for a Virginia permit already has a permit in their home state, and that state has a safety requirement, all they have to do is provide proof of successful completion of the course they have already completed in their home state, when they apply for the Virginia permit.  So, is this all a lot to-do about nothing?

One reason for the demand for nonresident permits may be due to the fact that Virginia only has reciprocity agreements with 13 states and has mutual recognition agreements with an additional 12 states.  Virginia also will grant recognition to permit holders of Minnesota and Washington, though those states may or may not recognize Virginia's permits carried by residents of Virginia while in those states. So, for the residents of states in the other half of the country for which Virginia does not recognize their permits, a Virginia nonresident permit is the next best option to the Utah permit, which most everyone agrees is the permit to possess for those who travel widely throughout the United States.

Senate Bill 1528, which made it clear that online courses were an acceptable form of training, was passed by the General Assembly and signed into law in 2009.

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