Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Senator Chap Petersen on Why He Voted Against HB961

State Senator Chap Petersen was on Fox and Friends Tuesday Morning talking about why he voted against HB961.  He said he told folks early on that he was opposed to the bill.

House Democrats apparently retaliated yesterday by killing one of his bills in the Firearms Public Safety Committee.  The bill had passed the State Senate 40-0.
If you haven't already, please let Senator Petersen know you appreciate his vote. He is one of the rare Democrats in the General Assembly that has some knowledge of firearms. We don't agree with him all of the time but there are just some bridges that go to far for him on the subject.  Petersen (along with Deeds and Edwards) also voted in 2010 to repeal the ban on carrying firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol .

Hat tip to Cam Edwards.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Next Step After Defeat of Northam Gun, Magazine, and Suppressor Ban

The Washington Post confirms what VSSA's lobbyist found while working with senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defeat HB961 - they thought the bill went too far and captured more firearms than what many think of as so called "assault weapons".  Take Senator Creigh Deeds for instance.  Deeds was one of the four Senators that VSSA focused efforts on to defeat the bills.  He used to be a reliable vote against gun control but started to turn after the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.  He also felt that his support for Second Amendment Rights had been betrayed when the NRA supported Bob McDonnell in the 2009 Gubernatorial election when McDonnell had voted for handgun rationing in 1993 and Deeds had voted against it.  McDonnell had promised he would sign a repeal of the law while Deeds had already started shifting his position on background checks more in line with the gun ban lobby.  I saw gun ban activist Lori Haas giving Deeds an ear full outside the committee room after the vote. He later told the Post:
Deeds said in an interview that the bill’s magazine limits could have applied to some long rifles and handguns that “I don’t think anybody really intended to criminalize.”

“AK-47s or AR-15s — I think they’re impractical, and I can’t imagine that people really need to own those things. In fact, they are weapons of war,” Deeds said. “But when you’re trying to define that as a matter of code, you’ve got to be really careful.”
No Senator Deeds, that is exactly what they wanted to do.  That's why the Secretary of Public Safety, Bryan Moran, focused on the Virginia Tech shooting in his remarks in both the House Public Safety Committee and Senate Judiciary.  The firearms used in the Tech shooting were handguns.  And, despite the fact that the commission appointed by Governor Tim Kaine  after the shooting said that the size of the magazines used would have had no impact on the carnage, that is what Moran focused on.  Deed's comments also show we still need to educate those who voted to waylay about why firearms like the AR-15 are indeed practical and used for sport, hunting, and competition.

Gun owners in the districts of the four senators (Surovell, Petersen, Deeds, Edwards) should use this time to educate them on the many rifles like the AR-15, why they are so popular, why their features make them easy for anyone - youth, women, handicapped shooters - to use. Gun ranges in or near their districts should invite them to competitions that use the rifles so they can see why these firearms are indeed "practical".

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Three Senate Gun Control Bills on House Public Safety Docket Friday Morning

Three of the five gun control bills that passed the State Senate prior to Crossover are on tomorrow morning's docket in House Public Safety. All three of the bills passed the Senate in a different form than they passed the House. The bills are:

SB69 Handguns; limitation on purchases, penalty. This bill includes an exemption from the one handgun-a-month limit for individuals who possess a concealed carry permit. The House bill does not include this provision. The question is will they conform the Senate bill to what passed the House.
SB263 Concealed handgun permits; demonstration of competence, effective date. Like SB69, this bill passed the House in a different form. The Senate bill did not remove references to NRA Certified Training.
SB593 Licensed family day homes; storage of firearms.

Monday's Senate Judiciary docket will be posted tomorrow. We will update members as soon as it is posted.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Legislative Update - Ban on Modern Sporting Rifles Reports from House Committee

House Public Safety Committee
Photo by Richmond Times Dispatch
The House Public Safety Committee met Friday to take up bills heard in subcommittee and to hear HB961, Governor Northam's bill to ban modern sporting rifles (referred to by the gun ban lobby as "assault weapons"), ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds as well as firearms that are capable of holding such a magazine, and banning suppressors. As introduced it would have required individuals that own these firearms to register them with the State Police. Last night, VSSA was made aware that a substitute would be introduced that removed the registration part, but the bill still contained language that would require Virginians to either turn over or destroy ammunition magazines that hold over 12 rounds by January 1st, 2021 or become a felon. When you click the link to the bill above, you should scroll down to 18.2-308.9. Importation, sale, transfer, etc., of assault firearms prohibited; penalty. to see the definition of what would constitute an "assault firearm".

After about 30 minutes of testimony and debate (you can see the entire discussion in the video at the end of this newsletter) the committee voted 12-9 on a party line vote to report the bill. At that time, a number of the people in the audience stood up and shouted "We will not comply." The chairman appeared shocked that this was occurring, called a member of the Capitol Police to the dais, and told him to clear the room. It was later learned that the video stream of the committee stopped at this point and did not resume until the room was cleared and the committee was ready to take up the final bill on the agenda without any opportunity for public comment.

As of Tuesday, it was not even clear that this bill would be heard. There are some Democrats in the House that are not comfortable with this even after the amendments. But the Governor wants to go 8 for 8 on his gun control bills and it appears he has forced the House to move the bill and at the same time, put members of the Senate in the position of opposing the Governor, or rejecting the pleas of their constituents on this issue. There are at least four members of the State Senate who are on record as not supporting this policy. The bill has to clear the House by the time the House adjourns on Tuesday as each side can only take up legislation that originated in the other house beginning on Wednesday.

Other bills passed in House Public Safety were:

HB264. The bill as introduced would remove the option of completing the training required to apply for a concealed handgun permit (CHP) through online courses. As amended in committe, it removes the options of completing the training through an NRA Certified instructor and instead only allows training provided by a "state certified" trainer.

HB600 Family day homes; storage of firearms. This bill requires family day homes (in-home childcare etc) to have firearms unloaded and ammunition locked up separately when in operation.

HB1288 Firearms; purchase, possession, etc., following two or more misdemeanor convictions.

HB1499 Virginia Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund; created. (The Senate version of this bill was amended to remove the reference to guns)

In other legislative news for Friday:

SB71 Firearms on school property. Adds public, private, or religious preschools and child day centers that are not operated at the residence of the provider or of any of the children to the list of schools where possessing a firearm on school property or on a school bus is prohibited. Under current law, the list of such schools only includes public, private, or religious elementary, middle, or high schools. Passed the Senate 21-18

SB14 Trigger activators; prohibition; penalty. This bill was engrossed and passed to third reading (final passage). This bill was amended in committee to mirror the federal bump stop regulation.

SB 67 Firearms; reporting those lost or stolen, civil penalty. This bill requires that an individual report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of knowing such has occurred or face a civil penalty of $250. It was read for the first time and passed to second reading.

SB543 Firearms shows; mandatory background check. This bill makes the background check on private sales at guns shows mandatory. Currently it is voluntary. Not sure why this bill is necessary since the "universal" background check passed the senate. This bill was read for the first time today and passed to second reading.

Three are no firearm related bills on Monday's docket in Senate Judiciary.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Marathon Evening Judiciary Meeting Advances Two Additional Gun Control Bills in Senate, House Public Safety Will Meet Friday

Wednesday's meeting of Senate Judiciary began at approximately 4:30 PM and ran until 9:00 PM with the two gun related bills on the docket coming at the end of the agenda.  This wasn't to try and out last pro-rights supporters but simply because they had to take up bills with a fiscal impact for referral to Finance ahead of next week's crossover.  The two bills that advanced are:

S.B. 67 Reporting lost or stolen firearms; civil penalty. Requires that, if a firearm is lost or stolen from a person who lawfully possessed it, such person shall report the loss or theft of the firearm to any local law-enforcement agency or the Department of State Police within 24 hours after such person discovers the loss or theft or is informed by a person with personal knowledge of the loss or theft. Violation is a civil penalty of $250.  This bill basically further victimizes the victim of a theft.  The bill reported 7-6 with Democrat Senator Chap Petersen voting no on the bill.  Please contact Senator Petersen and thank him for his vote.

S.B. 543 Firearms shows; mandatory background check. This bill makes the voluntary background check for private sales at gun shows mandatory.  With the passage of SB70, not sure why this bill is necessary but the patron said there is no guarantee  that SB70 will become law so he wanted to make sure this was made mandatory. The bill was reported 8-3

House Public Safety Committee will meet tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., House Committee Room (Pocahontas Buliding). While the agenda has not been posted yet, we do know that the bills heard in subcommittee on Tuesday will be on the agenda.  One of those is HB264.  The bill as introduced would remove the option of completing the training required to apply for a concealed handgun permit (CHP) through online courses.  As amended in committee however, it removes the options of completing the training through an NRA Certified instructor and instead only allows the following:
  • completing any hunter education or hunter safety course approved by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries or a similar agency of another state;
  • completing any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, institution of higher education, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS); 
  • completing any law-enforcement firearms safety or training course or class offered for security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any division or subdivision of law enforcement or security enforcement,   
  • presenting evidence of equivalent experience with a firearm through participation in organized shooting competition or current military service or proof of an honorable discharge from any branch of the armed services,  
  • completing any in-person firearms training or safety course or class conducted by a state-certified instructor, 
  • completing any governmental police agency firearms training course and qualifying to carry 48 a firearm in the course of normal police duties; or
  • completing any other firearms training that the court deems adequate
Please contact members of the committee and urge them to oppose this bill.  Please be sure to point out that as amended, this bill would severely hamper the ability of individuals in rural areas to obtain training as well as require shooting ranges that teach firearms training to totally re-certify their staff by gaining state certification through the DCJS.

Other bills that we know are going to be on the agenda tomorrow are:

HB600   Family day homes; storage of firearms. This bill requires family day homes (in-home childcare etc) to have firearms unloaded and ammunition locked up separately when in operation.

HB1288 Firearms; purchase, possession, etc., following two or more misdemeanor convictions.

HB1499 Virginia Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund; created.Reported 8-0 (The Senate version of this bill was amended to remove the reference to guns)

VSSA lobbyist Rich Savage also said to expect HB961 to be on the agenda.  HB961 is Governor Northam's bill to ban modern sporting rifles like AR-15s but would also ban many commonly owned handguns simply because they are capable of holding a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds.  To keep firearms already owned you would have to register them.  There would be no provision however to keep magazines and suppressors that would be banned by the bill.  Please contact members of the committee and urge them to oppose the bill.  If you can attend the meeting, please do so.  You will need to arrive early to insure you can get into the committee room.  The Pocahontas building opens at 6:00 AM.

Finally, bills on third reading in the Senate today are:

SB 64 Paramilitary activities; penalty.
SB 71 Firearms; possession on school property.
SB 684 Firearms; appellant to seek restoration of rights, etc.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Friday's Gun Control Bills on 1st Reading in House

There were nine bills scheduled to be on the agenda for the House Public Safety Firearms Subcommittee this morning but the meeting was cancelled.  However, the gun control bills that were reported out of committee on Friday will be on 1st reading in the House with final passaged expected on Thursday.  Those bills are:
House Bill 2  - "Universal" Background Checks would criminalize private transfers of firearms without first paying fees, with limited exceptions. Most transfers between friends, neighbors, or fellow hunters are not exempted. These proposals would have no impact on crime and are completely unenforceable.  This bill is different than what passed earlier in the Senate.
House Bill 9 Requires the reporting of lost or stolen firearms within 24 hours of gaining the knowledge that this has occurs.  This bill victimizes gun owners who suffer loss or theft of their property with a fine if they don’t report a lost or stolen firearm within 24 hours of discovering them missing.
House Bill 421 Rolling back pre-emption.  This bill allows local governments to enact their own gun control ordinances, potentially resulting in a patchwork of laws and the Second Amendment not being protected across the state.  It goes much further than the bill that passed the Senate earlier.
House Bill 1083 Minors access to firearms.  This bill severely restricts parental decisions about firearms in the home while attaching excessive penalties for violations.
House Bill 674 ""Red Flag" bill.  This bill allows the seizure of an individual’s firearms on baseless accusations without a hearing or other opportunity for the person to be heard in court. It permits the government to seize firearms based on weak evidence and nebulous standards of evidence.  While the Senate bill that passed last week is bad (HB240) is bad  this bill is much worse.

House Bill 812 Handgun rationing (one gun-a-month) arbitrarily rations an individual’s right to lawfully purchase a handgun to once within 30 days.  This bill is different than what passed the Senate as HB812 does not include an exemption for people with a concealed handgun permit.

Please continue to call and email your delegate and urge them to opposed these bills.

On the Senate Calendar on Final passage today is SB 479 Protective orders; possession of firearms, surrender or transfer of firearms, penalty.  This bill takes away the right to possess a firearm if an individual is subject to a permanent protective order that does not deal with family abuse.

There is one good bill on final vote today in the State Senate - SB 173Prohibition on possession of stun weapon on school property; exemption for holder of concealed handgun permit. Allows the holder of a valid concealed handgun permit to possess a stun weapon on school property while in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle, or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school.  This bill reported out of committee unanimously last Wednesday.  Please contact you Senator and urge them to support this bill.

Also, please continue to contact your delegate and urge them to oppose HB961 - the Governor's bill to ban the future sale of modern sporting rifles and handguns that are capable of holding a magazine larger than 10 rounds.  This bill would ban most of the firearms currently sold in Virginia and would require you to register existing firearms that you own that fit the description in the bill.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee Results

Wednesday's final vote on SB240, the "red flag" bill, in the State Senate was almost foregone conclusion after yesteday's session where the bill was amended and engrossed to a third vote on a party line vote. Nothing really changed today. Much of the ground that was covered in debate today was a rehash of yesterday. Democrats continued to say they added many due process protections and compared what would happen in this legislation to what happens when someone goes to the magistrate to report domestic violence, and that the protections in SB240 are more extensive than what would occur in a domestic violence situation. The bill now moves to the House.  Senator Stuart made an excellent closing argument on the floor that can be found below.


Senate Judiciary had a marathon meeting that started around 4:00 PM and lasted until approximately 7:30 PM. All but one of the good bills that were listed in yesterday's update were defeated. The Northam Administration stated their goal is not punishment but instead preventing acts before they occur. Translated, restricting the rights of law abiding gun owners is viewed as crime prevention instead of locking up violent criminals.

One bill of great importance was SB353, patroned by Senator John Bell (D- Loudoun). As drafted, the bill was targeting all outdoor shooting ranges. VSSA's lobbyist met with the Senator and was told it was a drafting error. When it was finally Senator Bell's turn, a substitute bill was distributed. It was significantly amended and became very clear that the target was not ranges like VSSA's 26 affiliated ranges, or other membership based ranges, but was targeting what the patron called "make shift" ranges on private property. As the patron continued he referenced what he said was the failure of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors to deal with several instances that occurred over the past couple of years in Loudoun County. Several members of the committee, including Democrat Chap Peterson, questioned whether this was something better suited for local zoning boards to handle rather than the General Assembly. After about 30 minutes, the Committee decided to pass the bill by for the day.

One interesting note, at least one Democrat member of the committee, Senator Chap Peterson is apparently growing weary of the number of firearm related bills that have been heard by the committee. At one point he asked "Why does everything have to be about guns?"

A summary of the bills and the action taken is below.

SB75 Allowing access to firearms by minors; penalty. Stricken at the request of patron (14-Y 0-N)

SB76 Protective orders; possession of firearms; penalty Stricken at the request of the patron (14-0)

SB614 Prohibition on carrying of certain firearms in public places; County of Albemarle and City of Charlottesville; penalty. Stricken at request of the patron.

SB781 Leaving an unattended handgun in public; penalty - Stricken at the request of the patron.

SB18 Firearms; criminal history record information checks; age requirement; penalty. Provides that a person must be at least 21 years old, or must be at least 18 years old by the effective date of the bill, to purchase a firearm in addition to "universal" background check. - Stricken at request of the patron

SB13 Possessing or transporting a weapon within Capitol Square; penalty. Again, members on both sides were not ready to move forward with the bill as drafted so it was passed by for the day.

SB15 Carrying weapon into building owned or leased by the Commonwealth; penalty This bill was debated, it was passed by for the day due to numerous questions that legislators on both sides had. When Senator Edwards asked the patron if they could take it by for the day Senator Peterson was heard to say "how 'bout for the year".

SB207 Purchase of service handguns or other weapons by retired sworn law-enforcement officers - Reported unanimously

SB476 Risk management plan; coverage for injury or death on public school or college property; concealed handgun prohibition. - Rereferred to General Laws and Technology

SB477 Risk management plan; coverage for injury or death on state property; concealed handgun prohibition. - Rereferred to General Laws and Technology

SB372 Protective orders; possession of firearms; surrender or transfer of firearms; penalty. Incorporated into SB479 (13-Y 1-N)

SB479 Protective orders; possession of firearms; surrender or transfer of firearms; penalty. Reported (10-4) (Senator Norment joined the majority Democrats)

SB509 Local hunting and firearm regulation. Reported from Judiciary 12-0 and rereferred to Senate Agriculture

SB593 Licensed family day homes; storage of firearms - Reported 12-3 and rereffered to Rehabilitation and Social Services

SB82 Violation of protective order; armed with firearm or other deadly weapon; mandatory minimum sentence; penalty. Passed by indefinitely (8-Y 6-N 1-A)

SB83 Brandishing a firearm; law-enforcement officer; penalty. Passed by indefinitely (7-Y 6-N 1-A)

SB84 Concealment of firearm in committing felony; penalty. 01/22/20 Senate: Passed by Indefinately (9-Y 5-N)

SB85 Stolen firearms; penalties. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 5-N)

SB86 Use or display of firearm in committing felony; penalty. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 6-N)

SB88 Discharging firearm; penalty. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 6-N)

SB89 Violation of protective order while armed with firearm or other deadly weapon; mandatory minimum sentence; penalty. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 6-N)

SB173 Prohibition on possession of stun weapon on school property; exemption for holder of concealed handgun permit. Reported with amendments (13-Y 0-N)

SB248 Virginia Gun Violence Intervention and Prevention Fund. Reported substitute (9-Y 4-N) Rereferred to Finance and Appropriations (Substitute removes all references to guns

SB263 Concealed handgun permits; demonstration of competence. Removes the option for concealed handgun permit applicants to demonstrate competence with a handgun by completing an electronic, video, or online course conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor. Reported Judiciary (7-Y 6-N) Democrat Creigh Deeds joined GOP members in opposing the bill

SB319 Security of public property. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 6-N)

SB353 Outdoor shooting ranges; prohibited adjacent to residential areas; exceptions; civil penalty. This bill was discussed extensively, a substitute was offered that made it clear the bill is not aimed at ranges like the 26 VSSA affiliated ranges but instead at private individuals who have built ranges on their private property. In the end the bill was passed by for the day as committee members believed it still needed more work. Senator Chap Peterson especially seemed to think this was a local matter and not one for the General Assembly.

HB581 Allowing access to firearms by minors; penalty. There was debate on the bill. Senator Chap Peterson was not comfortable with the language nor with the raising of the penalty from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 Felony so the bill went by for the day.

SB928 Possession, purchase, and transport of certain firearms in certain localities. Provides that a person may lawfully possess, purchase, or transport a firearm or firearms magazine that he would otherwise be lawfully permitted to possess, purchase, or transport on January 1, 2020, while he is in a locality that has adopted an ordinance, resolution, or motion that authorizes the possession, purchase, or transportation of such firearm or firearms magazine within such locality. Passed by indefinitely (9-Y 5-N)

SB490 Purchase, possession, or transportation of firearms following conviction for assault and battery of a family or household member; The bill provides for a process by which a person convicted of such crime may petition the circuit court for a reinstatement of his right to possess or transport a firearm and the factors a court shall consider in determining such reinstatement. There was much debate on this bill. The committee heard from the public and then passed the bill by for the day, mainly because it was getting late and there is more work that needs to be done with the bill.