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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Gabriella Hoffman: Let Victims of Domestic Violence Conceal Carry in Virginia

Gabriella Hoffman, a conservative blogger and media strategist, wrote in Monday's Richmond Times Dispatch that Governor Terry McAuliffe should sign two bills currently sitting on his desk, HB1852 and SB1299, which would allow victims of domestic violence to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for 45 days.  If they apply for a concealed handgun permit during that time, they would get an additional 45 days from the date of the application.
Two bills sitting on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s desk — House Bill 1852 and Senate Bill 1299 — would make it easier for victims of domestic abuse to protect themselves. If signed into law, these bills would allow anyone seeking a protective order to temporarily carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Virginia already allows law-abiding citizens to carry a firearm openly without a permit. The bill would protect a woman from criminal prosecution if she placed her handgun in her purse or under a jacket. It just makes sense.

In Virginia, a person seeking to carry a concealed handgun must get a state-issued permit. The process requires submitting an application to your local circuit court, paying a $50 fee and consenting to a background check. Under Virginia law, the state has up to 45 days to process a CHP application. That waiting period is often too long for victims of domestic abuse.

In March 2014 a 43-year-old mother of five in Loudoun County, Michelle Castillo, was found murdered in her home, allegedly at the hands of her estranged husband. Last April, a Leesburg mother of three, Christina Fisher, was shot to death at her home, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend. Last November in Big Stone Gap, 38-year-old Janina Jefferson was allegedly murdered by her ex-husband. What do these three cases have in common? The murdered women each had a restraining order against the men who allegedly killed them. All three women might be alive today if they had been able to protect themselves with a concealed handgun.
Last year, McAuliffe vetoed similar legislation saying:
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 626, which provides that for a period of 45 days after the issuance of a protective order, the person who has issued the order may lawfully carry a concealed handgun. This bill eliminates the application and training requirements associated with concealed handgun permits and allows petitioners to carry a concealed handgun immediately upon the issuance of any protective order.
That bill allowed any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm under state or federal law and is protected by a protective order for 45 days after such order was issued or until such order expires or is otherwise dissolved by the issuing court, whichever occurs first. If the individual applied for a concealed carry permit during that time, the exemption would be extended for an additional 45 days until the application was processed.  So, McAuliffe is presuming that everyone that may take advantage of the statute would just get a gun and not be trained in how to protect themselves.  Remember that even a hunter safety course qualifies someone in Virginia to apply for a CHP so McAuliffe is on thin ice on the training issue.

In his veto message, McAuliffe also referenced the compromise that restored the reciprocity/recognition agreements with 25 states which had been ended by Attorney General Mark Herring in December of 2015.  Part of that agreement included legislation that required abusers that were subject to a protective order to get rid of their firearms (to date 28 firearms have been turned over to law enforcement) as a reason SB626 would be unnecessary, as if someone bent on doing harm is going to comply with the law.

Gun owners need to contact the Governor's office and urge him to sign both HB1852 and SB1299.

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