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Monday, March 12, 2018

2018 General Assembly Ends With Mixed Results on Guns

The 2018 General Assembly adjourned Saturday, March 10, but it will return for a special budget session soon as it was not able to come to agreement by Saturday.  Work on all other legislation has been completed. Of the 87 firearm related bills (both good and bad) that were introduced this session, only one HB287, a bill that the gun ban lobby put in to create a "Stop Gun Violence" license plate, was approved by the Assembly.  That bill includes a special annual $25 fee in addition to the annual license cost.  For each $25 fee collected in excess of 1,000 registrations, $15 will be paid into the state treasury and credited to the a special non-reverting fund known as the Stop Gun Violence Fund established within the Department of Accounts. These funds will be paid annually to the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Fund and used to enhance and ensure for the coming years the quality of care and treatment provided to individuals receiving public mental health, developmental, and substance abuse services in Virginia.  That bill is now before the Governor for his signature, possible amendments, or veto.

All of the gun ban bills were defeated before Crossover.  Unfortunately, the two good bills that made it out of the State Senate, one that would do away with the "good and sufficient reason" requirement to carry in a church during regularly scheduled services, and one that would have allowed firefighters and EMTs to carry on the job, both died in the House. No pro-rights bills made it out of the House of Delegates, even with a one vote pro-gun majority. Elections do have consequences. When you look at the list of bills introduced this year by the gun ban lobby, it is easy to see how quickly Virginia would have become almost identical to New Jersey or California if the pro-rights majority that is currently in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate became an anti-rights majority because Governor Northam would have signed every one of those bills.

It is more important than ever to be a VSSA member.   Gun owners are under attack, organized, orchestrated and very well funded.  You have the "National March Against Gun Violence" that is being heavily orchestrated, by the gun ban lobby and progressives.  You need to be involved in your state association because the same gun ban laws are being circulated and distributed to gun ban legislators in every state.  What we saw introduced in Virginia this year mirrors what has already passed in states like California, Oregon and Washington State.  They are written by the Bloomberg folks and they provide all the support material behind it like talking points etc., and they bring people in to speak in support of the bills.  We need to be able to do the same.  If gun owners show up in larger numbers at committee meetings than the other side, legislators will take notice.  If the other side shows up and we don't legislators will notice that too.  Make no mistake, the other side is energized like never before.

How do you make your voice heard?  Join your state association.  Some states have a state association as well as other gun rights groups.  Join all of them, but especially the state NRA affiliated association.  State associations are full service organizations.  Not only do they lobby for our rights, they are promoting the shooting sports to the next generation so that we have people to follow us as advocates for our freedoms.   State associations are the tip of the sword at state legislatures. NRA State Liaisons cover multiple states and can't be in two places at one time. VSSA has a legislative presence everyday of the session. If you know a gun owner who isn't a member, please urge them to join today.

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