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Friday, February 24, 2017

Legislative Update

The Virginia General Assembly adjourns tomorrow and action on all of the firearm related bills is completed with the exception of the approval, amending, or rejecting by the Governor.  Governor Terry McAuliffe has already vetoed two self-defense related bills, one gun related and one knife related, and the House passed by the attempt to override that action until the reconvened session scheduled for April 5.

This year saw a number of bills that continue to create a separate class of citizens related to concealed handgun permits (CHP), adding retired conservation officers, former attorneys and assistant attorneys of the Commonwealth and retired probation, workers' compensation commissioners, and parole officers to those who can either carry concealed without a permit or who are exempt from the fees required to obtain a CHP.  What has basically occurred over the last several years is creating a group of retired law enforcement personnel that get exemptions from the requirements that the rest of of have to follow.  This could all be avoided if the General Assembly would pass Constitutional Carry, giving Virginians the option to carry without a permit, while preserving the permit process so that those who want to carry outside of Virginia can still do so.  Bills doing just that were approved by the two main committees that deal with firearm related matters, only to be sent to the money committees to be killed.  This must end!

There were some important bills that did pass, two, as mentioned above have already been vetoed, and others are awaiting action by the Governor.  Those bills are:

HB 1432 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. - Vetoed by Governor, House will attempt override on April 5, 2017.

HB 1466 Renewal of concealed handgun permits; notice. Provides that if a clerk has an electronic system for the application for and issuance of concealed handgun permits and such system has the capability of sending electronic notices to a permit holder, the clerk shall send the permit holder an electronic email notice that the permit will expire at least 90 days prior to such expiration. Approved by Governor Effective July 1, 2017

HB 1582 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 States Armed Forces or the Virginia National Guard and has completed basic training as a part of his military service. Vetoed by Governor, House will attempt override on April 5, 2017

HB 1852 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. Approved by House and Senate, Governor has until March 27 to act.

HB 1853 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course. Creates the Virginia Firearms Safety and Training for Sexual and Domestic Violence Victims Fund. The bill provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, or family abuse. Approved by House and Senate,  Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017.

HB 2325 Application for a concealed handgun permit; photo identification. Requires applicants for a concealed handgun permit to present one valid form of government-issued photo identification issued by a governmental agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. State Department (passport). The bill removes the requirement that the application be made under oath before a notary. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, February 24, 2017

HB 2369 Concealed handgun permit; change of address. Replaces the requirement that a concealed carry permit holder present proof of a new address with a requirement that the permit holder present written notice of the change of address on a form provided by the Department of State Police for a court to issue a replacement concealed handgun permit due to a change of address. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, February 24, 2017

SB 1023 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. Approved by House and Senate,  Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017.

SB 1299 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.   Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017

SB 1300 Victims of domestic violence, etc.; firearms safety or training course. Provides that the Department of Criminal Justice Services may distribute funds from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Victim Fund to reimburse an entity that offers a firearms safety or training course or class approved by the Department free of charge to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse, stalking, and family abuse. The bill also requires that, upon the issuance of a protective order, the petitioner for the order be provided with a list of such approved courses or classes. Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, March 27, 2017

Legislation similar to SB1023, HB1852/SB1299 and HB1853/SB1300 all passed in 2016 but were all vetoed by the Governor.  Gun owners should contact the Governor and urge him to sign all of these bills.  Also contact your Delegate and Senator and urge them to override the Governor's veto of HB 1432 and HB 1582.

Finally, as has been the case for over 20 years, all of the gun ban lobby supported legislation was defeated this year, all during the first half of the session.  We have been able to kill bad legislation but the Governor has vetoed a number of good bills during his three years in office.  If we want to go on the offensive and enact good legislation, we need to elect a pro-rights Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General this year.  That is what is at stake in this year's statewide elections.

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