Thursday, January 17, 2019

Senate Courts of Justice Report

Yesterday's Senate Courts of Justice Committee meeting was long and VSSA was posting live results on Twitter.  For the most part the meeting had good news for Virginia gun owners, but also provided a glimpse of what will happen if we lose the pro-rights majority in this year's election.  Right now, the committee is made of of 15 members - 9 Republicans and 6 Democrats.  One of those six Democrats, State Senator Creigh Deeds, votes with gun owners sometimes but most times not.  State Senator John Edwards also used to be a reliable pro-rights vote but he has almost completely abandoned law abiding gun owners.  Most of yesterday's votes were along party lines, including SB1162, Senator Saslaw's bill that would have gradually raised the age to purchase a long gun from 18-21.  It is possible that Deeds voted for the bill because it also included a so-called "universal background check", which he has supported since 2007.  Senator Saslaw noted in presenting his bill that he was also the one that put in the bill in the 80s that raised the drinking age 18-21 which drew some laughter.  Senator Obenshain responded that bill was likely as unpopular.

What really caused this observer concern was how some Republicans did everything they could to try to "fix" SB1458, the "Red Flag" bill.  A lot of time was taken to amend the bill and in the end, it died on a tie vote.  Senator Glen Sturtevant (R), who likely would not have been elected without a large turnout of gun owners in his district, joined the six Democrats in voting to report the bill. Senator Norment (R) did not vote.  The bill is not completely dead because the gun ban lobby could try and get one of the no votes to reconsider their vote, bring it up again when Senator Norment is there, and try to get a different result.  VSSA will continue to watch this bill until crossover when it will be completely dead for the session.  One bad bill did report from the committee - SB1163 which bans any accessory that could make a firearm fire faster including common trigger modifications used by competitive shooters.  Republicans Senators Norment, Stanley, and Sturtevant, joined all of the Democrats to advance the bill.

Another thing that caused concern was the number of gun ban supporters that were in the audience.  Besides the usual suspects like Andrew Goddard and Lori Haas, who have been staples at Senate Courts since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the Gabby Giffords gun ban organization also had a lobbyist.  Bloomberg's "Moms Demand Action" had several local volunteers wearing t-shirts in the audience who also got up and spoke in favor of bills.  The counsel for the City of Richmond Police was at the meeting supporting a number of the gun control bills, including SB1162 as did the Charlottesville Chief of Police and the Henrico County Clerk of Circuit Court.

Below are the bills that were reported and the bills defeated yesterday.
SB 1012 Firefighters and emergency medical services providers; carrying a concealed weapon.
SB 1048 Auxiliary law-enforcement officers; purchase of service handguns or other weapons.
SB 1158 Carrying a concealed handgun; permit not required.(Reported and rereferred to finance - this bill died in Finance last year)
SB 1163 Firearms; trigger activators designed to increase the rate of fire, prohibition, penalty.(Reported and rerefered to Finance - this bill can still be defeated before it would reach full Senate)

SB 1034 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty.
SB 1084 Firearms; use in commission of crime, civil liability for negligent gun storage.
SB 1162 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, age requirement, penalty.
SB 1303 Firearms; chambers of local governing bodies.
SB 1324 Firearms; reporting when lost or stolen, civil penalty.
SB 1446 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty.
SB 1454 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, penalty.
SB 1458 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk, penalties.
SB 1473 Firearms, etc.; permitted events.
SB 1482 Firearms, certain; prohibition on carrying in public places.

House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 meets this afternoon at 4:00.  VSSA's legislative team will be there.

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