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Updated: 6 min 52 sec ago

The Lawless 4th Circuit Decision on Maryland "Assault Weapon" Ban

4 hours 18 min ago
Earlier this week, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision that guts both the Heller Decision and the 2nd Amendment.  As conservativereview.com noted after the decision:
Inevitably, the courts overlook the most foundational of rights that are written in plain English — the ones that serve as the foundation of our republic. Last week, it was a state court in Washington violating the property and conscience rights of those who don’t service homosexual ceremonies. Today, it is the courts infringing upon the one right that pre-dated the Bill of Rights and is written in the most unambiguous and absolute terms: “shall not be infringed.”

As is always the case, after conservatives secured a 2-1 victory at the Fourth Circuit last year against Maryland’s “assault weapons” ban, the full en banc panel upheld the law. In a 10-4 ruling – one which was full of vengeful rhetoric over Sandy Hook and ignorance of the distinction between a machine gun and a ‘scary looking’ semi-auto — the court ruled that Maryland could ban 45 commonly held weapons as well as magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. “We have no power to extend Second Amendment protection to the weapons of war that the Heller decision explicitly excluded from such coverage,” wrote a brazen Judge Robert B. King. Every Democrat appointee except for Judge William Traxler (who wrote the dissent) and one GOP appointee joined the majority opinion.The 4th Circuit used to be one of the most constitutional constructionist of the 11 circuits but the eight years of Obama have completely destroyed this court that covers the part of the nation that includes Virginia.  Yesterday, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz discussed the lawless nature of the decision at the annual CPAC conference.
VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment Attorney Steve Halbrook also discussed the decision on NRATV.com on Wednesday.  Halbrook said that no military in the world uses the rifles banned by Maryland; they are sporting rifles. He explained that the decision is filled with errors. There is a fundamental distinction between fully automatic and semi-automatic. Further, the en banc review abandoned strict scrutiny in favor of the intermediate scrutiny balancing test. It completely rejects the Heller decision. 

Once again we see the importance of elections and why we need to get behind President Trump to undo the damage done to the lower courts in the last eight years.
Categories: News

Legislative Update

8 hours 23 min ago
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.
Categories: News

Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Military Personnel Under 21 to Have CHP

Wed, 02/22/2017 - 11:16
Yesterday Governor Terry McAuliffe announced he had vetoed HB1582, a bill that would have allowed active duty and retired military members who are under the age of 21 to apply for concealed handgun permits.  The Governor stated:
Contrary to the assumption of House Bill 1582, weapons familiarization training as a component of an individual's military basic training does not qualify that individual to carry weapons in follow-on service. Under the bill, an individual who has completed basic training but who subsequently was disqualified (for medical or other reasons) from having access to weapons could nevertheless apply for a concealed handgun permit.

My concerns about the bill are in no way a reflection of my respect and support for the brave young men and women who serve our nation in uniform. I have made this decision to veto this bill after consultation with military leadership, including Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs Admiral John Harvey, USN (Ret), who dealt with this issue extensively throughout his 39-year career in our Navy. House Bill 1582 reflects an incomplete understanding of weapons qualification practices within our military and is an unwarranted expansion in the number of people allowed to carry handguns in the Commonwealth. It would do nothing to protect the safety of our citizens.Governor McAuliffe is the one who reflects an incomplete understanding of the CHP process.  It also plays into the stereotype that CHP holders don't seek additional training beyond the basic requirements to apply for a permit.  If McAuliffe completely understood it, he would know that the current process allows someone who had only completed a hunter safety course to qualify for a CHP.

I've never served in the military but I have to believe that "weapons familiarization training" provided during basic training has to at least provide the level provided in a hunter safety course.  Even if someone who completed basic training but was disqualified for medical or other reasons that resulted in an honorable discharge would have the basic knowledge to be approved for a CHP.  We trust these folks to defend our nation but we don't trust them to properly carry a concealed firearm?

The Governor also vetoed HB1432, a bill that 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. McAuliffe's veto message stated in part:

There is no compelling need to add to the list of weapons that can be lawfully concealed from public view and easily traded. Legalizing the concealed carry of switchblade knives would needlessly endanger the lives of Virginians. Furthermore, the laws of the United States prohibit the manufacture, transportation or distribution of switchblade knives.

HB1582 passed the House of Delegates 78-19, a veto proof margin that included a significant number of Democrats.  It passed the State Senate 24-15 with Senator Frank Wagner not voting.  That is three votes short of being able to override the Governor's veto.  Presuming that Senator Wagner, who is running for Governor touting his Second Amendment bona fides, votes with the majority, that leaves the total two short.  Some of those who voted against the bill live in areas representing a large number of military personnel.  Gun owners should immediately contact their Delegate and State Senator and urge them to override the Governor's veto.

HB1432 failed to pass either house by a veto proof margin.  Its fate faces an uphill climb to find the votes to override the veto.
Categories: News

Washington Post Reporter Doubles Down Rather Than Admit Gun Ignorance

Wed, 02/15/2017 - 09:24
Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a story by reporter Mike Rosenwald that was a lengthy attack on the target of legislation known as the Hearing Protection Act - firearm noise suppressors.  Rosenwald exhibited his ignorance on the topic of firearms.  For instance:
But gun-control activists say silencers are getting quieter, particularly in combination with subsonic ammunition, which is less lethal but still damaging. They point to videos on YouTube in which silencers make high-powered rifles have “no more sound than a pellet gun,” according to one demonstrator showing off a silenced semiautomatic ­.22LR.See how he lumped .22LR into "high-powered rifles."  When he was called out for the error on social media, this is how he reacted according to The Federalist:

@seanmdav your piece carefully avoids interesting facts. Go do your homework on what armed forces shooting 22lr and read a few firearms mags— Mike Rosenwald (@mikerosenwald) January 10, 2017 It gets worse:
@Roger247 @seanmdav google is high powered— Mike Rosenwald (@mikerosenwald) January 10, 2017The Federalist post author Sean Davis took Rosenwald's advice and googled it.  He found that apparently the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) use the caliber in limited circumstances to control protestors rather than more lethal firearms for that purpose.  Davis wrote that had Rosenwald followed his own advice to use Google to verify simple facts, he would’ve learned that IDF sometimes issues .22 LR rifles in those extremely limited circumstances and not for combat purposes.
Nothing says “high-powered” like a rifle that’s only used to injure protesters, amirite?Remember that post from last week on National Review's Kevin Williamson's article about lazy and dishonest reporting on guns? Rosenwald's article fits that description.
Categories: News

Vote “YES” on 2017 NRA By-Laws Amendments

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 12:06
Earlier this month, VSSA members should have received their NRA February member magazine where NRA President and VSSA Life Member Allan D. Cors urged NRA members to approve the proposed by-laws amendments:
If you’re a voting member of the National Rifle Association, you’ll soon receive your ballot for this year’s NRA elections. As usual, you’ll have the chance to vote for candidates to fill one-third of the NRA Board’s 75 seats (and, sadly, one additional vacancy due to the death of Board member Buster Bachhuber). But you’ll also have the opportunity to vote on a comprehensive package of important NRA bylaw amendments that have been unanimously recommended by the NRA Board. These proposals deserve your support and your “YES” vote. The VSSA Board of Directors joins the NRA Board and our fellow member, NRA President Allan Cors, in support of the bylaws amendments and urge all VSSA members who are also NRA Voting Members to vote yes on the bylaws changes.

Key aspects of the NRA Bylaws haven’t been updated for over 30 years. The proposed amendments are designed to protect the NRA’s democratic processes from those who might intend to harm the Association, while also reflecting the new world of high-tech politics.

Here are the key changes:

  • Amendments to the recall election process ensure voting members’ choices are respected, by improving the fairness of the process for member removal of officers and directors. NRA officials could only be removed for good cause, such as violating the Bylaws or disrupting NRA operations. Allowing dismissal of frivolous or malicious recall would save NRA resources that could be much better used to advance Second Amendment rights. 
  • Repealing the Annual Meeting Bylaw amendment process ensures that changes in the NRA’s Bylaws are made either by the elected Board of Directors, or by the mail ballot process that reaches all of our voting members. 
  • The amendments update signature requirements for Board nominating petitions, recall elections, and Bylaw amendment proposals—raising the very small requirements set three decades ago to be more consistent with a membership that’s grown five-fold, and the greater use of online communications. To allow for future growth, the amendments include signature requirements based on percentages of valid ballots cast in the previous year's Board election. 

 More information is available to voting members of the NRA at http://www.nrabylaws.com.

VOTE "YES" ON THE BYLAW AMENDMENTS
Categories: News

Legislative Update

Thu, 02/09/2017 - 11:38
Crossover occurred on Tuesday, February 7th and as of that date, all anti-gun legislation had been defeated.  Bills ranging from the usual background check bills (so-called "gun show loophole", "universal" background checks), a bill requiring FFLs to sell so-called "smart guns", a bill reinstating handgun rationing, and a bill holding private sellers civilly liable is a gun they sell is used in a crime, among others, were killed.  Three pro-gun bills are already headed to Governor McAuliffe's desk:

HB1432- 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.

HB1582 - 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 Stated Armed Forces or the National Guard and has completed basic training as a part of his military service. The bill allows reciprocity under the same circumstances for a nonresident who carries a concealed handgun or weapons permit recognized in the Commonwealth. Current law requires that residents and nonresidents be at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun.

HB1849 - Concealed handgun permit; permit requirements. Provides that a concealed handgun permit shall be of a size comparable to a Virginia driver's license and may be laminated or use a similar process to protect the permit. Current law requires that the permit be no larger than two inches wide by three and one-fourth inches long.

Legislation is going to be moving very quickly from this point forward.  Check the legislative tracking form daily for updates.

One of the more disappointing things about this year has been the defeat of Constitutional Carry bills.  Both the House and Senate versions of these bills were reported out of the respective committees (Senate Courts of Justice and House Militia, Police and Public Safety) but were then referred to Senate Finance and House Appropriations where they were killed due to a supposed fiscal impact:
Fiscal Implications: The proposed legislation would exempt any person who is authorized to open carry a handgun in the Commonwealth, from having to obtain a concealed handgun permit. The proposed bill also provides that an individual who qualifies to carry handgun under this subdivision is not required to demonstrate competency with a handgun under subsection B of § 18.2-308.02 or subsection B of §18.2-308.06.

Currently, under existing law, the court, local law enforcement and the Department of State Police may each charge a fee for processing an application for a concealed handgun permit not to exceed $50. The court collects $10 for the processing of an application or issuing of a permit, the local law enforcement agency may charge a fee of not more than $35 to cover the cost of conducting an investigation, and the Department of State Police may charge a fee not to exceed $5 to cover the cost associated with processing the application. For nonresident applications, the Department of State Police accepts and processes each application. There is a $100 fee associated with each nonresident application to cover the cost of the background check and issuance of the permit. All fees collected by the Department of State Police in the concealed handgun program are deposited into the general fund.

According to data from the Department of State Police (Department), an average of 70,192 resident concealed handgun permits, and 4,131 nonresident concealed handgun permits were issued in the years 2012 through 2016. Based upon available data, it collected a total of $1,221,695 in FY 2016 for both types of permits, which was subsequently deposited into the general fund. The proposed legislation would have an impact on general fund revenue and revenue collected by localities. However, because the number of individuals who would be exempt under this proposal is unknown, the estimated revenue loss to the state cannot immediately be determined at this time.

There is not enough data to estimate the impact to localities. According to the Compensation Board (Board), currently, based on best available data, the estimated revenue loss to state could be as much as $847,000 and the estimated revenue loss to localities could be as much as $240,000. Fees charged for Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) were supposed to be revenue neutral, only covering the cost of issuing the permits.  But it appears from the Fiscal Impact Statement (FIS) that localities and the state have begun looking at CHPs as a source of revenue over and above what it costs to process the applications.  You will note that the FIS makes no mention of the reduction in costs to the State Police and localities if they no longer had to process some CHP applications, thus off setting the "loss" of revenue.
Categories: News

Frank Miniter: Five Things You Need to Know About Suppressors

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 09:00
Earlier this week, columnist Frank Miniter wrote an article posted on the America's First Freedom web site that was titled "Five Things You Need to Know About Suppressors."  In that article, Miniter starts off by writing:
There is an old joke that the “official NRA handshake” is a person saying “What?” as he or she cups a hand behind one ear.

I never liked this joke, as it makes light of a serious issue. Decades ago many gun owners didn’t think it was a big deal that they didn’t wear earplugs or muffs when hunting and at the range. Many shooters who grew up in that culture now have hearing loss or problems with tinnitus (ringing in their ears). Massive public education—much of it from the NRA—taught us about the dangers of shooting without ear and eye protection.Miniter goes on to write the five things that people need to know about suppressors, things like the type of technology, and do they really make a gun "whisper quite." But to me, the most important thing he shares is how they work - information you can use when writing to your legislators when the Hearing Protection Act comes up for a vote to encourage them to support it:
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that a decibel (dB) level greater than 140 can cause permanent hearing loss. Silencerco’s research has estimated that a silenced .22 LR rifle gives off about 116 dBs, a silenced 9mm pistol makes about 125 dBs, a jackhammer about 130 dBs and an unsuppressed .223 rifle about 165 dBs. So suppressors can lower the dB level below the detrimental 140 dB level. But OSHA also says that, over time, anything over 85 dBs can damage hearing. The point is, for the most part, even someone firing a suppressed firearm should still wear hearing protection.Miniter writes that a bullet moving faster than the speed of sound also creates something called a "mini sonic boom" that suppressors will not eliminate, making the Hollywood myth that silencers or suppressors turn gunshots into a "pffft" noise is "nonsense."

Yesterday Miniter appeared on NRATV's NRANews Cam and Company to talk more about the article.
Categories: News

Legislative Update

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 08:29
As the General Assembly races toward "Crossover" on February 7th, bills both good and bad are being dispensed with at a rapid pace.  That is not to say that good legislation is not moving forward, but bills like "Constitutional Carry" cleared Senate Courts of Justice only to be killed by the Senate Finance Committee.  A complete list of bills and their current status can be found on the VSSA web site but below are details of the more important bills that were introduced and where they currently stand in the legislature:

HB1392School security officers; carrying a firearm in performance of duties.Authorizes a school security officer to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties if (i) he is a retired law-enforcement officer who retired or resigned in good standing, (ii) he has met the additional training and certification requirements of the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), (iii) the local school board solicits input from the chief law-enforcement officer of the locality regarding the qualifications of the officer, and (iv) the local school board grants him the authority to carry a firearm in the performance of his duties. The bill requires DCJS to establish additional firearms training and certification requirements for school security officers who carry a firearm in the performance of their duties. Existing law requires DCJS to establish minimum training and certification requirements for school security officers. - Passed House

HB1406 - Restoration of right to possess, etc., a firearm. Provides that a person convicted of a felony, other than a violent felony, whose civil rights have been restored is not required to petition a circuit court for an order to possess, transport, or carry a firearm, ammunition for a firearm, or a stun weapon. The bill provides that such person's right to possess, transport, or carry such items is automatically restored upon the restoration of his civil rights. The bill has an effective date of January 1, 2019, contingent upon voter approval of amendments to Article II, Section 1 and Article V, Section 12 of the Constitution of Virginia at the November 2018 general election. Died in Subcommittee

HB1432 - 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 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. Passed House

HB1466 - Renewal of concealed handgun permits; notice. Requires the clerk of the court that issued a concealed handgun permit to notify the permit holder, at least 120 days but no more than 180 days prior to the expiration date, of the expiration date of the permit and the requirements for renewing the permit. The bill provides that such notice may be sent to the permit holder's address or, upon request of the permit holder, email or other electronic address. The bill provides further that any failure to send or receive such notice does not extend the validity of the existing permit beyond its expiration date. Passed House

HB1582 - 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 Stated Armed Forces and allows reciprocity under the same circumstances for a nonresident who carries a concealed handgun or weapons permit recognized in the Commonwealth. Current law requires that residents and nonresidents be at least 21 years of age to carry a concealed handgun. Passed House

HB1849 - Concealed handgun permit; permit requirements. Provides that a concealed handgun permit shall be of a size comparable to a Virginia driver's license and may be laminated or use a similar process to protect the permit. Current law requires that the permit be no larger than two inches wide by three and one-fourth inches long. Passed House

SB989 - Commonwealth's Twenty marksmanship award. Provides for the Commonwealth's Twenty marksmanship award to recognize the top 20 marksmen in Virginia. These top 20 marksmen shall be chosen from the Virginia state residents who compete at the annual Virginia State Championship matches sanctioned by the Virginia Shooting Sports Association . Passed Senate

SB1023 - 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. Passed Senate

SB1299 - 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. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. The bill requires such person to have the order or certified application and photo identification on his person when carrying a concealed handgun and to display them upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; failure to do so is punishable by a $25 civil penalty. Passed Senate

SB1444 - Restricted ammunition; use or attempted use in the commission of a felony; penalty. Removes the prohibition on use or attempted use of restricted firearm ammunition in any non-felony criminal offense. The bill expands the definition of restricted firearms ammunition to include "pinched tip" bullets and expands the exception to such definition to include certain ammunition with copper cores. The bill provides that if any ammunition has been approved by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for commercial sale, it is not restricted firearms ammunition. Reported from Committee and on Second Reading in Senate

In addition to the above good bills, a number of bad bills including bills requiring firearm dealers to to stock so-called "Smart Guns", bans on carrying in public libraries, handgun rationing, so-called "universal" background checks, bills restricting parents from deciding when to introduce their children to the shooting sports, and bills making private sellers liable if a firearm they sell ends up being used in a crime, have all been defeated.

The VSSA legislative team has been working with the committees responsible and continues to work bills that are still active.  Be sure to check the VSSA Legislative Tracking Form regularly for updates.
Categories: News

The Hill: NRA Set to Go On Offense

Tue, 01/31/2017 - 12:06
The Hill's story can be found here:
“For the first time in almost a decade, the NRA is shifting from a defensive stance to a pro-active stance,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said. “We’re going from defense to offense.

“Now, we have a pro-Second Amendment Congress, and a pro-Second Amendment president, who will sign pro-Second Amendment legislation. That’s a huge shift.”Among the NRA's top priorities is passage of concealed carry national reciprocity and the Hearing Protection Act.  If you have been on the NRA web site recently you've probably noticed the first story is about contacting your senators to confirm Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  Not long after the election, NRANews released this video of Wayne LaPierre titled "Our Time is Now." And, the NRA is anticipating a supreme court pick that will return the number of justices to a pro-Second Amendment majority.  President Trump will announce his pick tonight in a prime-time address to the nation.

The Hill talked with Adam Winkler, a law processor and gun control advocate and he pointed out why the NRA has been so successful:
“One of the things that makes NRA such a political powerhouse is that, by and large, it stays focused on the issue it cares about: guns,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Whatever Trump might say about women and sexual harassment, that’s just not as interesting to the NRA. They are focused on what Trump will do for guns.”As Wayne LaPierre said, now is the time.
Categories: News

Only 39 Voluntary Background Checks Run at 41 Gun Shows and Only One Buyer Denied Since July 1st

Sun, 01/29/2017 - 13:28

The Richmond Times Dispatch has the story here

Since the new law took effect July 1st placing state police at every gun show to run voluntary background checks on private sales of firearms, a total of 39 background checks have been run at 41 gun shows. That's an average of a little less than one check per 2 day gun show (the exception being the Chantilly gun show which usually opens on Friday evening).  But it gets better - only one prospective buyer has been stopped, a 21 year-old who agreed to undergo the background check when the seller requested he do so.  The buyer had an outstanding felony warrant and he was immediately arrested.

So, given the amont of money taxpayers are paying for the state police to staff the shows, is this really a good use of taxpayer money?

Categories: News

Will New 4th Circuit Court Ruling Allow Virginia CHP Holders to be Harassed in States Like Maryland?

Fri, 01/27/2017 - 11:42
Earlier this week, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in an en banc opinion, in U.S. v. Robinson that after a lawful traffic stop, police may frisk a person suspected of having a firearm, regardless of whether that person has a concealed carry permit. VSSA Life Member and Second Amendment attorney and scholar Steve Halbrook told NRATV on Wednesday that the overly broad decision effectively means that armed is dangerous.

In states like Maryland and New Jersey, as well as the District of Columbia, it is not uncommon for someone stopped for a routine traffic violation to be harassed by the police once they learn the individual is a concealed handgun permit holder.  Currently, the Virginia State Police inform out-of-state law enforcement inquiring during a traffic stop if an individual has a CHP. This ruling could make the practice of harassment by anti-gun law enforcement even more frequent.


There is an opportunity to keep this from occurring however. There is currently a bill in the General Assembly that would prohibit the Virginia State Police from sharing information on concealed handgun permit holders with states that do not have CHP reciprocity with Virginia.  A similar bill passed in the General Assembly last year but Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed the legislation.  VSSA will alert members if the bill passes the full legislature this year so you can contact the Governor and urge him to sign the bill.
Categories: News

NSSF Launches Project ChildSafe Communities

Thu, 01/26/2017 - 07:57
Yesterday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), along with Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Oklahoma City leaders and law enforcement officials, launched Project ChildSafe Communities in Oklahoma’s Capitol, kicking off a national initiative designed to encourage responsible firearm ownership with an emphasis on secure firearm storage. The event marked the launch in Oklahoma City – the first event in the nation under the initiative – starting a year-long, community-led effort that is, among other goals, “Aiming for Zero” firearm accidents.

Project ChildSafe Communities is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and NSSF, which has sponsored Project ChildSafe since 1999. BJA awarded NSSF a two-year, $2.4 million grant to help promote additional firearm safety efforts on a national level by creating Project ChildSafe Communities in key cities around the country.
The initiative is also partnering with several local organizations representing conservation groups, mental health and suicide prevention advocates, veterans, retailers and hunting and shooting groups to help share messages and information about responsible firearm storage.
Their collective efforts will be backed up by community-wide messaging that that will appear in social media, in an upcoming public service announcement on TV and radio, and on billboards around the Capitol City region.

Through partnerships with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies and more than 3,400 organizational supporters, Project ChildSafe has helped educate firearm owners on the importance of gun safety, while distributing more than 37 million free firearm safety kits—which include a free gun lock—to communities in all 50 states and the U.S. territories.

For more information on Project ChildSafe Communities and how to get involved, visit projectchildsafe.org.
Categories: News

Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Afraid Suppressors Will Defeat Shot Spotter Technology

Tue, 01/24/2017 - 12:39
The gun ban crowd will stop at nothing to make sure the Hearing Protection Act does not make it through Congress and lands on President Trump's desk.  First it was to portray suppressors as they are in movies - as tools of assassins and mobsters.  Now, a Chicago Sun-Times editorial fears they will make newly acquired technology by the Chicago Police Department useless:
Just as Chicago is moving ahead with new technology that could help reduce gunfire deaths, Congress and the Illinois Senate are considering misguided bills that could shoot Chicago’s effort to pieces by making gun silencers easily available.

Chicago’s new technology, called ShotSpotter, alerts police as soon as bullets start flying, instead of making them wait for a phone call. Officers can respond more quickly — sometimes within seconds. By arriving faster, detectives are more likely to find witnesses, and crime scene personnel have a better chance of scooping up evidence, such as shell casings. Victims can get medical care faster. Recently, Chicago’s Public Building Commission voted to spend $938,500 to expand ShotSpotter in the Englewood and Harrison police districts, which are home to most of the city’s gun violence.And of course the editorial writers go straight to the gun ban lobby for their talking points:
...The Violence Policy Center in Washington says silencers “could help enable mass shooters and other murderers to kill a greater number of victims more efficiently.” A proliferation of silencers would mean more dead innocent people.We have a window of two years to get real reform on firearm related issues before the next congressional elections. The Hearing Protection Act should be at the top of  the agenda.
Categories: News

Tom Gresham: Gun Sales Driven by Gun Control Ended Two Years Ago

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:24
Last week, Gun Talk Radio host and gun writer Tom Gresham was in Las Vegas covering the Shot Show. On Friday, he was interviewed on NRATV.com's NRANews Cam and Company. Gresham told host Cam Edwards that contrary to what the press has been reporting, guns sales driven by gun control ended two years ago. The growth of the shooting sports is driving new gun ownership. He and Cam talked about the need to promote legal gun ownership for disenfranchised residents of high crime areas and the minority communtities. Tom urged gun owners to take people to the range, so that they will know what firearms are all about. Gresham called it "vaccination against gun control." Originally aired on Cam & Co 01/20/17.
Categories: News

Legislative Update - Senate Courts of Justice

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 13:13
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee held a marathon meeting lasting just a little less than four hours on Wednesday afternoon.  A number of bad bills were disposed of.  Additionally, a number of good bills advanced while a few were also failed.  Among the good bills heard and advancing was a Constitutional Carry bill.  Below is a complete list of the results:

S.B. 791 Concealed handgun permits; fee for processing.  Makes the $10 fee that the clerk of court is now required to charge for processing a concealed handgun permit application or issuing a concealed handgun permit discretionary with the clerk.  Reported and referred to Finance Committee

S.B. 809 Firearms; person to report loss or theft within 24 hours. Passed by indefinitely (defeated)
S.B. 832 Firearm transactions; voluntary background checks, clarification of provisions. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 893 Firearm locks required for sale or transfer of handguns; warning against accessibility to children. Stricken at the request of the sponsor.
S.B. 953 Muzzleloader firearms; definition.  Incorporates the Virginia criminal law definition of a muzzleloader into the current statutory definitions of muzzleloading pistol, muzzleloading rifle, and muzzleloading shotgun located in the Game and Inland Fisheries Title. Reported and referred to Finance Committee
S.B. 1049 Firearms; administration of machine gun registry, nonresident concealed handgun permits. Requires any person registered to possess a machine gun to notify the Department of State Police (the Department) of a change of address within 30 days of such change. The bill reduces the number of photographs that an applicant for a nonresident concealed handgun permit must submit from two to one. The bill requires the form provided by the Department for a dealer to obtain criminal history record information for a firearm purchase to include a question about whether the proposed purchaser has been the subject of a temporary detention order and subsequently agreed to voluntary admission to a state facility. Current law prohibits such persons from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and provides that other mental health disqualifications be disclosed on such form. The bill requires firearms dealers to comply with the federal minimum wait time of three days after contacting the system for a background check before releasing a firearm without an approval number; under existing state law, such firearm must be released after one business day without an approval number. The bill removes the option under state law for a dealer to complete a sale if notified that a response will not be available by the end of the dealer's next business day and removes the requirement that the Department notify the dealer of such delay. The bill removes the requirement that the dealer mail the criminal history record check consent form for a person who is not a resident of Virginia to the Department.  Reported and referred to Finance Committee
S.B. 1112 Firearms; control of possession in chambers of local governing bodies.Allows a locality to adopt an ordinance that prohibits firearms, ammunition, or components or a combination thereof at any regular or special meeting of such local governing body, provided notice of such prohibition is publicly posted and the meeting room is owned or operated by the locality. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1185 Reporting lost or stolen firearms. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1194 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks; penalty.  Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and requires the Department of State Police to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers. A transferor who fails to obtain a required background check and sells the firearm to another person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill exempts transfers between immediate family members, transfers that occur by operation of law, transfers by the executor or administrator of an estate or by the trustee of a testamentary trust, and temporary transfers that (i) occur within the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm; (ii) are necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury; (iii) occur at a shooting range, shooting gallery, or other area designed for the purpose of target shooting, for use during target practice, a firearms safety or training course or class, a shooting competition, or any similar lawful activity; or (iv) are for the purpose of and while the transferee is engaged in hunting, trapping, or target shooting. The bill removes the provision that makes background checks of prospective purchasers or transferees at firearms shows voluntary. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1266 Firearms; access by children; penalty.  Provides that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly authorize a child age four or younger to use or handle a firearm. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1267 Firearms; alcohol; penalties. Provides that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person who is intoxicated or under the influence of illegal drugs to carry a loaded firearm on or about his person in a public place and that a person found guilty is ineligible to apply for a concealed handgun permit for a period of five years. Current law provides that such prohibition applies only to persons permitted to carry a concealed handgun. The bill also creates a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who carries a loaded firearm on or about his person onto the premises of any restaurant or club licensed to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption and consumes an alcoholic beverage while on the premises. Current law provides that such prohibition applies only to those persons carrying a concealed handgun on such premises. Passed by indefinetely
S.B. 1297 Concealed weapons; nonduty status active military personnel may carry.  Provides that an active duty member of the Virginia National Guard, Armed Forces of the United States, or Armed Forces Reserves of the United States in a nonduty status may carry a concealed weapon wherever such member may travel in the Commonwealth. Incorporated into SB1362
S.B. 1299 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. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. The bill requires such person to have the order or certified application and photo identification on his person when carrying a concealed handgun and to display them upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; failure to do so is punishable by a $25 civil penalty.  Approved by committee and headed to full Senate
S.B. 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. Reported and referred to Finance Committee
S.B. 1362 Concealed weapons; nonduty status active military personnel may carry. Provides that an active duty member of the Virginia National Guard, Armed Forces of the United States, or Armed Forces Reserves of the United States in a nonduty status may carry a concealed weapon wherever such member may travel in the Commonwealth. Approved by committee and headed to full Senate
S.B. 1422 Law enforcement, local; fees for concealed handgun permits, courthouse and courtroom security. Eliminates (i) the fee, under current law up to $35, that a local law-enforcement agency is permitted to charge for conducting the background investigation for a concealed handgun permit and (ii) the requirement that the local law-enforcement agency forward to the State Police any amount assessed by the FBI for providing criminal history record information in the background investigation. The bill makes discretionary the current mandatory fee of up to $10 charged by the clerk for processing a concealed handgun permit application or issuing a permit. The bill increases from $10 to $20 the maximum amount, designated solely to fund courthouse and courtroom security, that a local governing body may assess against a convicted defendant as part of the costs in a criminal or traffic case in district or circuit court. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1439 Firearm transfers; penalties. Creates a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who is not a licensed dealer to sell, rent, trade, or transfer a firearm to any other person who is not a licensed dealer. The bill also creates a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who is not a licensed dealer to buy,rent, trade, or transfer a firearm from any other person who is not a licensed dealer. The bill exempts certain transfers, such as between immediate family members, by operation of law, at a firearms show with a voluntary background check, and when the transfer is temporary and is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or occurs while in the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm. Passed by indefinitely
S.B. 1440 Concealed handgun; eligibility to carry openly within Commonwealth. (Constitutional Carry) Reported and referred to Finance Committee
S.B. 1443 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk, penalties. Creates a procedure by which an attorney for the Commonwealth or law-enforcement officer may apply to a circuit court judge for a warrant to remove firearms from a person who poses a substantial risk of injury to himself or others. If firearms are seized pursuant to such warrant, the bill requires a court hearing within 14 days from execution of the warrant to determine whether the firearms should be returned or retained by law enforcement. Seized firearms may be retained by court order for up to 180 days or, with court approval, may be transferred to a third party chosen by the person from whom they were seized. Persons who have been served with a warrant to remove firearms until such warrant has been dissolved by a court or who are the subject of an order to retain firearms are disqualified from having a concealed handgun permit or purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer and may not be employed by a licensed firearms dealer. The bill also provides that a person who transfers a firearm to a person he knows has been served with a warrant or who is the subject of an order is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Failed to report (defeated)
S.B. 1444 Restricted ammunition; use or attempted use in the commission of a felony, penalty.  Removes the prohibition on use or attempted use of restricted firearm ammunition in any non-felony criminal offense. The bill expands the definition of restricted firearms ammunition to include "pinched tip" bullets and expands the exception to such definition to include certain ammunition with copper cores. The bill provides that if any ammunition has been approved by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for commercial sale, it is not restricted firearms ammunition. Reported and referred to Finance Committee
There are some remaining firearm related bills to be heard and legislators have until Friday afternoon to introduce legislation.  The next meeting of the committee is Monday morning.  If firearms bills are on the docket, VSSA will be there.
Categories: News

Legislative Update: House Militia and Police and Public Safety

Fri, 01/20/2017 - 13:12
The House Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee Met this morning and took action on a number of bills.  Below is a list of bills acted on by the Committee:

HB 1466 Renewal of concealed handgun permits; notice. Reported

HB 1849 Concealed handgun permit; permit requirements. Provides that a concealed handgun permit shall be of a size comparable to a Virginia driver's license and may be laminated or use a similar process to protect the permit. Current law requires that the permit be no larger than two inches wide by three and one-fourth inches long. Reported

HB 1852 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. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. The bill requires such person to have the order or certified application and photo identification on his person when carrying a concealed handgun and to display them upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; failure to do so is punishable by a $25 civil penalty. Reported

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. 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. Reported and referred to Appropriations

HB 2077 Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000; reference to firearms, emergency shelter. Removes the authority of a governmental entity under the Emergency Services and Disaster Law of 2000 to limit lawful possession, carrying, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms in any place or facility used by the governmental entity as an emergency shelter. Reported from Militia, Police and Public Safety (12-Y 7-N)

HB 2308 Concealed handgun; retired conservation officers. Adds conservation officers retired from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to the list of retired persons eligible to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. Reported

HB 2325 Concealed handgun; application for permit requires photo identification. Requires applicants for a concealed handgun permit to present one form of government-issued photo identification that demonstrates that the applicant is a citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States. Substitute offered and reported
Additionally, a number of bills were heard in subcommittee #1 last night.  The results of that meeting are below:
HB 1684 Restricting access to firearms by children; mental state; penalty. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 1685 Purchase of handguns; limitation on handgun purchases; penalty. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 1700 Firearms; carrying in public while intoxicated, etc., penalty. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 1758 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk; penalties. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 1773 Transfer of firearms; criminal history record information check; Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 1822 Place of worship; carrying dangerous weapon personal protection. Subcommittee recommends striking from docket by voice vote
HB 1864 Firearms; access by children; penalty Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 2079 Sale of firearms; persons not lawfully present in United States; penalty. Subcommittee recommends striking from docket by voice vote
HB 2094 Localities; regulation of firearms in government buildings. Subcommittee recommends striking from docket by voice vote
HB 2187 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks required, penalty. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
HB 2188 Firearms; civil liability for sale or transfer without a background check. Failed to report for lack of motion (defeated)
HB 2212 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks, penalty. Subcommittee recommends laying on the table by voice vote
Bills recommended for defeat in subcommittee are for all intent and purposes dead. This will not be official however until crossover.
Categories: News

Senate Courts Taking Up Handful of Bills Wednesday Afternoon

Wed, 01/18/2017 - 09:48
The Senate Courts of Justice Committee has scheduled five gun bills on the docket for this afternoon's meeting.  The committee will meet 15 minutes after the Senate adjourns today.  The bills on the docket are:

SB791
SB1023
SB1299
SB1300

SB791 is sponsored by state Senator Amanda Chase and would make the current $10 fee charged by the clerk of the local circuit court for renewing a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) discretionary.

SB1023 is sponsored by state Senator Richard Stuart. This bill would prohibit the sharing of information regarding Virginia CHPs with law enforcement in states that do not recognize Virginia CHPs. This bill is aimed at preventing the frequent fishing expeditions by out of state law enforcement during traffic stops in anti-gun states like New Jersey, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

SB1299 and SB1300 are both sponsored by State Senator Jill Holtzman Vogel. SB1299 would allow any person who is 21 or older, not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and who are currently protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. SB1300 would also provide funding for reimbursement of training expenses as well as information for those individuals seeks training under the protection of a protective order.

VSSA will be there and will post live results on Twitter and the VSSA Facebook page.
Categories: News

Mossberg Shockwave Home Defense Shotgun

Tue, 01/17/2017 - 10:54
Yesterday was the 2017 Shot Show Media Day where manufacturers bring out their new products for outdoor and gun writers to see.  One of the products generating a lot of buzz that NRA Publications featured on its You Tube channel was the Mossberg Shockwave Shotgun.  This is a home defense shotgun that is considered by BATFE a non-NFA item.
Categories: News

"Hunter Pink" on List of Bills at the General Assembly

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 12:23
Kerry Dougherty has the report at the Virginian Pilot:
The measure, HB1939, was introduced by Del. James E. Edmunds II of Halifax.

A summary of the proposed law says simply: “Hunting apparel; blaze pink. Allows hunters to wear blaze pink instead of blaze orange hunting apparel when required during firearms deer hunting season or the special season for hunting deer with a muzzle-loading rifle.”

When I spoke with the hunter/legislator on Thursday, he said he got the idea for the bill when he met a “celebrity” who told him blaze pink was a winner with women hunters. When she learned he was a state legislator, she urged him to introduce a bill making it legal.So, given more than one female shooting sports personality has commented that making something in pink does not make it woman friendly, I have to wonder if this bill is one of those tongue-in-cheek bills that pop up during the session every year.
Categories: News

Governor McAuliffe's Unintended Consequences

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 09:41
A. Barton Hinkle points out in the Richmond Times Dispatch that gun rights are getting a push from an unexpected individual - Governor Terry McAuliffe:
This session, the governor has proposed a commendable criminal-justice reform package. It includes a badly needed adjustment to the state’s standard for felony grand larceny. The figure was set at $200 in 1980, and has not been changed since. Had the threshold kept pace with inflation, it would be more than $500 today.

Critics call the proposal a cost-of-living adjustment for thieves, which is clever but misleading. Pegging the standard to inflation keeps it constant in real-value terms. Failing to adjust for inflation actually lowers the threshold in constant dollars. Today’s $200 threshold is the equivalent of only $68 in 1980 dollars. Twenty years from now, assuming only 2.5 percent inflation, the threshold will fall to only $42 in 1980 dollars. (Assuming 5 percent inflation, it would fall to only $25 in 1980 dollars.)

Adjusting the felony standard does not allow criminals to steal more; refusing to adjust it makes a felony out of ever-smaller offenses. That gets expensive fast. Virginia spends about $25,000 year per prison inmate, so a 20-year stretch for felony theft costs the state half a million dollars. Does the public really benefit from lowering the felony ceiling year after year? Do Virginians want to spend a half-million dollars to punish someone for boosting a mid-range kitchen blender from Target?

Probably not. So adjusting the felony threshold make sense. And it carries an ancillary benefit: protecting the voting rights — and the gun rights — of nonviolent offenders who otherwise would be swept up by “felony creep.”

Gov. McAuliffe probably did not intend that result of his proposal. But as he already has learned, sometimes the most powerful law is the one about unintended consequences.This isn't the first time Governor McAuliffe's actions have unintentionally made it easier for nonviolent offenders to regain their gun rights.  When he started restoring the rights of felons who had completed their sentences he took away one of the steps that those individuals had to take to restore their gun rights - petition a court:
Four months later, the governor grandly announced that he was restoring the voting rights of 206,000 felons. Republican heads exploded, and the ensuing debate eventually had to be settled by the Virginia Supreme Court, which struck down McAuliffe’s order, requiring him to continue making restorations on a case-by-case basis.

In the meantime, though, a question arose: What about gun rights? Although McAuliffe’s order stipulated that “nothing in this Order restores the right to ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms,” the governor’s order made it much easier for a felon to get his gun rights back. Formerly, an offender first had to petition for restoration of his civil rights, and once they were restored, go to court to retrieve his gun rights. McAuliffe’s order eliminated the first step.

That was purely unintentional. “My actions were about giving you the right to vote, to serve on a jury and run for political office,” McAuliffe admitted. “My action, I didn’t think it had anything to do with gun rights. I stayed away from that.”Republican Del. Greg Habeeb has introduced legislation that would automatically restore gun rights to nonviolent felons.   VSSA will be tracking this bill along with all other firearm related legislation this session.  If it passes, given McAuliffe's own statement that these individuals have completed their sentence, he will be hard pressed to veto it.

Hinkle was on NRANews' Cam and Company on Thursday to discuss the issue in more detail.
Categories: News