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Thursday, April 16, 2015

General Assembly Fails to Override McAuliffe Veto of Gun Bills, Spikes Anti-gun Substitute Bill

Governor Terry McAuliffe had his way yesterday with the three vetoes he issued to pro-rights bills in late March.  The State Senate failed to override the veto of SB948, a bill that would have protected concealed carry permit (CHP) holders from the fishing expeditions of law enforcement in states that do not have permit reciprocity with Virginia. The vote fell three short of the 27 needed to override the veto and mirrored to vote on passage during the regular session.  The Senate also failed to override the veto of SB1137, Senator Tom Garrett's bill that would have allowed CHP holders to carry loaded long guns in their vehicles.  Senator Garrett requested the bill go by for the day rather than subject it an override vote that was likely to fail.  Senator Garrett has vowed to try again next year.  Finally, the State Senate failed to override McAuliffe's veto of HB2009, a bill that would have established uniform approval standards across the Commonwealth for NFA items by requiring when the certification of a chief law-enforcement officer is required by federal law for transfer of a firearm as defined in the National Firearms Act, such certification must be provided within 60 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm. If the applicant is prohibited by law from receiving the firearm, the chief law-enforcement officer or his designee shall notify the applicant in writing of the reason for the prohibition.  The House of Delegates has overridden the veto earlier in the day but the Senate vote was actually four less than the vote on passage during the regular session.  The vote to override was 21-18, while the vote on passage in February was 25-14.

There was some good news however yesterday.  The House rejected McAuliffe's amendment to HB2286.  As passed by the House and Senate, HB2286 provided that the prohibition on the possession and transportation of firearms and ammunition by convicted felons does not apply to a felon whose right to possess firearms or ammunition has been restored under the law of another state.  Governor McAuliffe submitted an amendment in the nature of a substitute that added new misdemeanor crimes for any person who knowingly and intentionally possesses, transports, or carries any firearm following a misdemeanor conviction for an offense that occurred on or after July 1, 2015, for the offenses of (i) stalking in violation of § 18.2-60.3 when the victim was a family or household member, (ii) sexual battery in violation of § 18.2-67.4 when the victim was a family or household member, (iii) assault and battery of a family or household member, or (iv) any offense substantially similar to clause (i), (ii), or (iii) in the laws of any other state or political subdivision thereof is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.  A bill with these provisions had previously been defeated in both the House and the State Senate.  Yesterday, the House ruled that the substitute was not germane.  The original bill is now before the Governor and he may sign it as is or veto it.

Yesterday's votes show the importance of this year's General Assembly elections where all 100 members of the House and 40 members of the State Senate are up for re-election.  Gun owners need to gain at least three Senate seats to have the opportunity to advance pro-rights legislation in the next two years.

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