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Senator Chap Petersen on Why He Voted Against HB961

Wed, 02/19/2020 - 09:08
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.
People in the room — including gun control advocates who liked the bill — believe Democrats killed it because Petersen voted against the assault weapons bill yesterday https://t.co/jm9L9aoZD2— Amy Friedenberger (@AJFriedenberger) February 18, 2020If 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.

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

Tue, 02/18/2020 - 10:41
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".

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

Thu, 02/13/2020 - 12:58
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.

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

Sun, 02/09/2020 - 18:38
Photo by Richmond Times DispatchThe 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.

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

Thu, 02/06/2020 - 11:36
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.

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

Tue, 01/28/2020 - 10:32
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.

Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee Results

Thu, 01/23/2020 - 13:42
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.

Three Gun Bills Advance to Final Vote, Governor Temporarily Bans Guns on Capitol Grounds and Reduces Points of Access to One for Lobby Day

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 16:35
Today, the Virginia Senate advanced SB 35 (Chipping away at state preemption), SB 69 (Handgun Rationing), and SB70 ("Universal" Background Checks) to a final vote. Expect these to be on the floor calendar for tomorrow. SB240 (Red flag bill) was passed by for the day as there were multiple substitutes to consider. Continue to contact your senators and urge them to oppose all of these bills, even if your senator is anti-rights. They need to hear from gun owners to know we opposed these bills.

For those planning to come to the annual Lobby Day at the Capitol on Monday, Governor Northam announced a temporary state of emergency beginning Friday extending to Tuesday morning, that includes a ban on firearms and other items that could be used as weapons on Capitol Grounds. He has also reduced the number of entrance points to one for Monday. All attendees will be required to enter through the entrance at 9th and Grace Street.

Photo by Mel Leonor, @MelLeonor RTD ReporterThere will also be multiple road closures:
1) West bound traffic on East Main St. from North 14th St. to North 9th Street. Alternate routes will be Canal Street or the Downtown Expressway.
2)North bound traffic on N. 9th Street from East Cary to E. Broad Street will be closed. Alternate route will be N. 7th Street.
3)East Grace Street between N. 8th St. and N. 9th St. will be closed to all traffic.
4)East Franklin St. between N. 8th St. and N. 9th Street will be closed to all traffic.

Please be aware of these changes and plan accordingly.

Only One Gun Bill on Docket in Senate Judiciary Wednesday Afternoon

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 13:41
The Docket for Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee meeting has been posted and the only firearm related bill is:

S.B. 51Patron: SpruillCarrying a concealed handgun; consumption of alcohol in a public park; penalty. Prohibits a person who carries a concealed handgun onto the premises of any public park or other public space when alcoholic beverages have been approved for sale or consumption therein from consuming an alcoholic beverage while on the premises. A violation of this provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
This language would be added to the code section related to carrying concealed in a restaurant that serves alcohol.

Bill Would Increase Taxes on Guns and Ammo

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 13:16
A bill introduced in the House of Delegates would implement an additional sales tax on all firearm and ammunition purchases. House Bill 960 is awaiting a committee referral. The Sportsmen's Alliance has more:
HB 960 would require all individuals who purchase a firearm or ammunition to pay a new tax in addition to the taxes already incurred by the Pittman-Robertson Act and state sales taxes. The funds from this new tax would be earmarked for a student mental health and safety fund, which would be used to hire full time school counselors, social workers and school psychologists.Contact your member of the House of Delegates and tell them that the taxes you currently pay on firearms and ammunition provides funding for the selection, restoration and improvement of wildlife habitat, and for wildlife management research. Let them know that you currently pay an 11-percent federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment, and a 10-percent tax on handguns and oppose any additional taxes on your constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

Legislative Update - Senate Judiciary Advances Gun Control Bills

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 16:35

After an hour delay in starting this morning's committee meeting, caused by the new rules banning firearms in the building, causing staff and members to now go through metal detectors, Democrats wasted no time advancing their gun control agenda.

The following bills were reported out of committee and are headed to the floor.  Many of them were combined versions of multiple bills and we are waiting for the substitution versions to be printed.
The meeting got off to a less than friendly start when it was brought to the attention of State Senator John Edwards that he had assured the committee that no gun bills would be taken up at today's meeting because State Senator Stanley had to be away from the session today.  But when the the agenda came out on Friday, a number of gun related bills were included on the docket.  Senator Mark Obeshain made a motion that all of the gun bills go by for the day, a motion that after some discussion, failed on a party line vote.

Then, even though the bill was not on the docket, Committee Chairman John Edwards announced that State Senator Richard "Dick" Saslaw had requested that his "assault weapon" ban bill SB16, be stricken.  Again their was back and forth about the rules, which indicate that bills not on the docket (which SB16 was not) could not be stricken at this time,  In a second violation of the rules, the bill was stricken. 

The first bills to be taken up were SB22 and SB69, both of which would reinstate handgun rationing.  SB22 was rolled into Senator Mamie Locke's SB69 and that is the bill that advanced on a 9-5 party line vote.  It does include an exception for individuals that hold a valid concealed handgun permit.  SB69 now goes to the floor.  Contact your state senator and urge him or her to oppose the bill.  You can find talking points on why gun rationing fails by clicking here.

Next up was so-called "universal" background checks.  Again, Senator Saslaw had a bill, SB12, and Louise Lucas had SB70.  SB12 was rolled into SB70 and that is the bill that was taken up.  During discussion of the bill, State Senator Chap Peterson said he had concerns about the word "transfer" in the bill.  This word is how similar laws in Washington state have required background checks simply for lending your gun to someone at the range.  While SB70 included exceptions for loaning someone a firearm at the range, Senator Peterson said he was concerned about inclusion of the word, and offered a substitute, that dealt strickly with sales of firearms but it also appears that it removed all of the exceptions in the bill, including for sales to immediate family.  You would be able to give firearm as a gift, but not sell it to your daughter, son, or brother.  We are awaiting the printed copy of the substitute to confirm what it appeared from discussion was the case.  It should also be noted that neither Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran, nor the gun ban lobby, were happy with the substitute.  The bill was reported on a 9-5 vote and heads to the floor.  Contact your Senator and urge him or her to oppose SB70.  You can find talking points on why "universal" background checks don't reduce crime by clicking here.

Next up was Senator Barker's "Red Flag" bill (SB240).  There were a number of line amendments to the bill resulting in a substitute to be passed by the committee.  None of the amendments address the flaws in the bill such as simply requiring "probable cause" for an order to be issued confiscating someone's firearms before the respondent has an opportunity to defend themselves and other flaws in the bill.  VSSA is awaiting a copy of the substitute but none of the amendments change our opposition to the bill.  State Senator Joe Morrissey said he was going to vote to report the bill but had concerns that needed to be addressed.  He told the VSSA legislative team after the meeting that he would not vote for the bill on the floor in it's current form .  VSSA will continue to work with Senator Morrissey to see additional amendments can be added to address the 13 items that have been identified to make the bill constitutional.  Contact your Senator now and urge them to oppose the SB240. 

Finally, SB35 and SB450, both dealing with local control of firarms, specifically related to allowing them in the chambers of local governing bodies and permitted events.  The Democrats said they are simply letting the local governments determine if they want firearms in their board and council meetings and at events requiring a permit.  Like the other bills, SB35 advanced to the floor.  Contact your Senator and urge them to oppose SB35.

Shooting Ranges, Gun Shops, Clubs Sponsoring Buses to Richmond January 20th

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 15:15
Some shooting range, gun shops, and clubs have set up buses to Richmond for the Annual Lobby Day on January 20th. While a number of gun bills may have already been heard by then, they would still have to be taken up in the other house of the legislature (i.e. Senate bills taken up in the House and vice versa) before they go to Governor Northam. If we don't stop them in one house we may stop them in the other. So, it is critical that a large number of gun owners show up in Richmond , talk with your legislators, and let their voice be heard on both January 13th, the day NRA has designated, and on January 20th. Below is a list of buses we are aware of that will travel to Richmond on January 20th if you want to avoid parking issues.  If you are driving, please be aware that entry into the Pocahantas building will be difficult with only one access point so please arrive early if you want to speak with your legislators.

Charlottesville: Rivanna Rifle & Pistol Club has organized two buses to leave Charlottesville at 6:00 am to arrive in Richmond by 8:00 am and will leave Richmond at 2:00 pm to return to Charlottesville. Cost is $30 per seat to cover expense of buses. Contact Timothy Rogers at trogers307@hotmail.com to reserve a seat.

Culpeper/Warrenton: Bus by Rivenoak Armoury LLC.  Contact rivenoak.armoury@gmail.com for details.

Draper (Pulaski County): New River Sports is chartering a bus that leaves 3376 Kirby Rd (Frontage Rd) Draper, VA at 3:30 AM. Cost is $50/rider. Contact nrsportsva@gmail.com or 540-980-1133.

Lynchburg: SafeSide Tactical has a bus that starts in Roanoke. All riders get a free “shall not be infringed” T-shirt and over $150 in coupons from area retailers.  Lynchburg Bus - $35 leaves SafeSide Lynchburg at 5:00 am https://www.safesidetactical.com/rangemanagement/classdetail.cfm?class_id=2297

Manassas: Fairfax County Rod and Gun Club is planning two buses from Manassas for club members. If you are a member, contact the club.

Patrick County: The Patrick County GOP has a bus from Stuart, Virginia leaving at 3:30 am and returning around 9:30 PM. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased from Eventbrite at the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/patrick-co-gop-bus-to-richmond-for-lobby-day-2a-tickets-86869353575?ref=eios

Roanoke: SafeSide Tactical has a bus. All riders get a free “shall not be infringed” T-shirt (graphics coming soon) and over $150 in coupons from area retailers. - Roanoke bus - $35 leaves SafeSide Roanoke @ 4:30am https://www.safesidetactical.com/rangemanagement/classdetail.cfm?class_id=2295

Shenandoah County: The Shenandoah County GOP has two buses coming. They leave from Woodstock at 6:30 AM. They plan to be in Richmond by 9:00 AM and riders will meet with Delegate Todd Gilbert. Contact Dianne Wyss for more information at info@shencogop.org.

Winchester: CK3 Guns in Stephens City will be sponsoring a bus. Departing Winchester and making a stop in Front Royal. Tickets are $35/seat. For details contact Chuck Klingenberg at ck3guns@gmail.com.

Senate Bill Targets Outdoor Shooting Ranges

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 12:15
On January 6th, State Senator John Bell prefiled SB353, a bill that would prohibit the operation of an outdoor shooting range, defined in the bill, within 500 yards of any property zoned for residential use, with one exception, the range must have used the "Range Design Criteria" developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Health, Safety and Security.  VSSA has a number of affiliated ranges and it is possible that some of these have used the above criteria when they were constructed, but this bill would also prevent individual land owners from constructing a range on their property for private use unless it complies with the above criteria.  An individual in violation of the law were it to pass would be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 nor more than $100,000 for the initial violation and $5,000 per day for each day of violation thereafter.

Gun owners need to be contacting their legislators as bills continue to be filed.  Emails are fine should be short (no long missives) but phone calls are better.  Be polite, and focused in your message.

The Democrats have renamed the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to Senate Judiciary.  The Committee members are:

Edwards  (Chair), Saslaw, Norment, Lucas, Obenshain, McDougle, Stuart, Stanley, Chafin, Deeds, Petersen, Surovell, McClellan, Boysko, Morrissey

The Democrats on the committee that are most likely to be receptive to gun owner interests are Senator Edwards (the Chair of the committee), as well as Senators Deeds and Petersen.

Gun Bills Likely to Move in 1st Full Week of General Assembly

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 13:54
VSSA's lobbyist is getting indications that Northam's gun control bills will move the first full week of the legislature.  That's the week of January 13th.  This likely explains NRA-ILA's focus on the first meeting of Senate Courts of Justice on January 13 and why gun owners need to be contacting their
Graphic by NRA-ILAdelegate and senator now.  You can send an email but a phone call to their Capitol Office phone would be even better.  If you are going to be in Richmond, schedule an appointment to meet with them but arrive early for your meeting because access to the Pocahontas Building is not easy and if there are large numbers of people attempting to enter it can take a while as there is only one access point.

Additionally, special focus should be given to Senator John Edwards, who is the incoming chairman of Senate Courts of Justice and until recently was an ally of gun owners.  Senator Edwards needs to hear especially from gun owners in his district (Roanoke, Montgomery, and Giles).  Roanoke Rifle and Revolver club is in his district so members of the club need to contact Senator Edwards by email and by phone and urge him to oppose any bills that restricts the rights of law abiding gun owners and especially SB16, which would ban many of the guns that used at RRRC for competition and target shooting.  Members of RRRC that have youth that shoot in competitive programs need to have those young shooters contact Senator Edwards and let him know that they would be negatively affected by SB16 and that they don't want their competition firearms banned.

Bearingarms.com: GOP, 2A Groups Reject Virginia “Red Flag” Proposal

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 11:40
In Friday's eBullet, VSSA shared the article about SB 240 - Senator Barker's "Substantial Risk" or "red flag" bill, from Bearingarms.com.  A follow-up article was posted on Saturday that shared comments from Delegate Todd Gilbert and from VSSA.   From Delegate Gilbert:
“Our concern with this bill and others like it is that these bills go too far, and open the door for abuse that would not only endanger citizens but also law enforcement. There is room to tweak our existing, proven system of dealing with those who may be a threat to themselves or others while preserving due process, but this bill comes up short.”And comment from VSSA:
“As with other laws of this type, it does nothing for those ruled to be a risk to no longer be a risk other than taking the firearms. It takes guns prior to a hearing to determine if the individual is a risk, and it gives immunity to law enforcement if someone’s firearms are damaged or stolen while in law enforcement custody. It has none of the constitutional protections that for instance, Dave Kopel, recommends for the law to be constitutional.”
I did not go into detail in my comment on those protections but I will list them here. In testimony before congress last spring, Independence Institute Research Director Dave Kopel listed the following constitutional protections that should be part of any "Extreme Risk Protection" or red flag laws:
  • Petitions initiated by law enforcement, not by spurned dating partners or relationships from long ago.
  • Ex parte hearings only when there is proof of necessity.
  • Proof by clear and convincing evidence, which has been corroborated.
  • Guarantees of all due process rights, including cross-examination and right to counsel.
  • Court-appointed counsel if the respondent so wishes.
  • A civil remedy for victims of false and malicious petitions.
  • Safe and orderly procedures for relinquishment of firearms.
  • Strict controls on no-knock raids.
  • Storage of relinquished firearms by responsible third parties.
  • Prompt restoration of concealed carry permits for the falsely accused.
  • Prompt return of firearms upon the termination of an order.
  • Renewal of orders based on presentation of clear and convincing proof.
  • Not allowing time-limited orders to be bootstrapped into lifetime federal prohibition.
When you read SB 240, it does include allowing firearms to be stored by third parties.  Also, only law enforcement can go to a judge to request such an order as Kopel mentions in his list, but the bill only requires that a judge determine there is “probable cause” that someone poses a “substantial risk” to themselves or others, not the "clear and convincing evidence" that Kopel listed.  Probable cause is a very low legal bar.  SB 240 is more about confiscating firearms that providing assistance to those in crisis or public safety.

Will GOP Help Pass Some Gun Control?

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 10:42
State Senator Tommy Norment seems to think so.  He believes that so called "universal" background checks and so called "red flag" laws will be two likely candidates.  From Cam Edwards at Bearingarms.com:
He made the statement at the annual Kaufman & Canoles Business Leaders Forum at the Princess Anne Country Club in Virginia Beach. During the luncheon, Norment and Virginia Beach Del. Barry Knight (R-81st District) talked about some legislation Virginia can expect to see.

Norment’s official position as co-chair of the Senate Finance Committee makes him the man at the tip of the spear for all things budget-related. His position as Senate majority leader has changed as Democrats take control of the Senate.

Norment said it’s clear recent gatherings at local government meetings supporting gun rights are making a statement. There’s no legal impact, but the protests are expressions of pro-gun values.

“Universal background checks, I predict, is coming out no matter what the governor has said. It is going to happen because there is majority of Republicans and Democrats who will pass it,” he said.Cam mentioned that he has heard that some legislators in suburban districts seem to think that the uprising of gun owners is tied to SB 16.  I agree with Cam that these legislators need to reconsider that position because SB 16 is only one of the bad bills.  Make sure you are contacting your legislators and let them know your position on all of the bills that would restrict your rights.

Suffolk, Amelia, Accomack, Pass Resolutions that Avoid Declaring 2A Sanctuary Status

Thu, 12/19/2019 - 08:18
Last night, Accomack, Amelia, and the City of Suffolk held board and council meetings.  All three stopped short of declaring their localities 2A Sanctuaries.

Suffolk did not have a resolution item on their agenda but the Suffolk News Herald reports that the council chambers were packed with gun owners. Council added it, read it and passed it before supporters of a Second Amendment Sanctuary City resolution had a chance to speak.  The resolution simply states support for the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions.

Unlike Suffolk, Amelia had scheduled a special meeting for the purpose of passing a sanctuary resolution.  In the end however, as Bearingarms.com's Cam Edwards tweeted from the meeting last night, without hearing public comment from a packed high school auditoriaum, passed a watered down resolution that simply asked the General Assembly not to pass unconstitutional laws.

So, the board of supervisors just approved (without hearing public comment) a resolution that does NOT declare Amelia County a #2A Sanctuary, but urges lawmakers not to pass unconstitutional gun laws.— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) December 19, 2019 Gun owners faired a little better, but not much, in Accomack County where the Board passed a resolution that stopped short of declaring Accomack County a Second Amendment Sanctuary county but took a stand supporting the second amendment.
Photo by Shore Daily NewsThe operative language in the Accomack resolution is:
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board, recognizing that certain legislative initiatives are expected to be introduced in the 2020 General Assembly, requests that as part of our legislative agenda, our State Delegate and State Senator diligently review and oppose any such legislation that may unconstitutionally restrict the 2nd Amendment rights of our county’s citizens, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Board directs its staff to forward a copy of this resolution to the County’s elected representatives in the Virginia General Assembly.The Shore Daily News reported that a former sheriff and current board member spoke against passing a sanctuary resolution and letters were presented by Sheriff Todd Godwin and Commonwealth’s Attorney Spencer Morgan while stating support for the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms but also stated that neither had the authority to ignore laws that were legally passed and certified as constitutional by the courts.

Reports from Suffolk indicate gun owners were not happy with the resolution that was passed.  In Amelia, Cam Edwards reported that he wasn't sure if those in attendance understood what was passed due to the poor quality of the sound system in the auditorium. 

Six More Localities Join 2A Localities Bringing the Total to 101

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 08:29
Beginning yesterday afternoon, five more localities joined the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement.  The first was Mathews County, which had a huge turnout, many of which took off from work to attend the meeting and show their support for the resolution.  It was approved on a vote of 4-1. Then came Frankly County where another large crowd showed up in late afternoon.  That resolution also passed unanimously (7-0).
Photo Courtesy WSLS News10Then the evening meetings began.  Prince Edward County met at Prince Edward High School and another large crowd filed the auditorium.
Auditorium is pretty close to capacity with a steady stream of folks still coming inside. We’re almost ready to begin the meeting with at least 350 in attendance and more on the way. pic.twitter.com/JpFn8wNuz1— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) December 17, 2019Bearingarms.com's Cam Edwards was live tweeting from Prince Edward and shared that one speaker identified himself as a member of the Virginia National Guard, said he was speaking in his capacity as a private citizen and asked for approval of the #2A Sanctuary resolution to a round of cheers from the crowd.

York County also approved a resolution last night making it a Constitutional County. There are several other localities that have previously approved resolutions that took the route that York County did last night.  The resolution passed on a vote of 4-1, and according to 13 News, the one supervisor that voted against the resolution said she was torn:
Noll said she was torn because she supports the second amendment and gun rights, but disagreed with the process. She said the resolution came too soon and too fast for a thorough vetting of the legal ramifications the county might face.Shortly after 11 PM, Stafford County passed a Sanctuary resolution.  Gun owners turned out by the thousands.  WJLA ABC News 7 reported that over 2000 people showed up, and there were even food trucks and a "Party in the Parking Lot".  The Board Room only held about 200.

Photo by WJLA ABC News7 Heather Graf
Photo by WJLA ABC News 7The Board voted 7-0 to officially designate Stafford as a Second Amendment Sanctuary.  WJLA's Victoria Sanchez reported via Twitter that the Stafford County Democratic Party issued the below statement:
The Stafford Co. Democratic Committee sent me this statement regarding #SecondAmendmentSanctuary:
“... we do not support the effort of gun rights activists to enlist local governments to aid in their push to dramatically reinterpret the historic meaning of that right.” @ABC7News pic.twitter.com/w3inv4Tyed— Victoria Sanchez (@VictoriaSanchez) December 18, 2019 Finally, the Town of Vinton, which is in Roanoke County, passed a resolution by a vote of 4-1.

Accomack and Amelia County will consider resolutions tonight.

House and Senate Election Maps Comparison to 2A Resolution Map

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 14:59
Do you see anything similar in the two election result maps and the 2A Locality Map?

That upper right hand corner is where there is a concentration of Democrat House and Senate Districts.  It is also where there are currently no 2A Localities.  That one blue spot in the lower west are the districts that include Roanoke as a majority portion of the population.  That explains why they are blue but almost all of the district except Roanoke have passed 2A resolutions.

Bearingarms.com: Separating Fact From Fiction with Governor Northam's Gun Control Plans

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 11:30
As is to be expected, with the giddiness of the Democrats to restrict our rights after winning a majority in the state legislature, there has been some disinformation about several of the pre-filed bills and their potential impact on Virginia gun owners.  Yesterday, Cam Edwards did a great job of dispelling some of the myths that have popped up on social media.  Cam covered bills like SB64 and SB 67.  He corrected the myth that Northam said he would call out the National Guard to enforce any gun bills passed - that was actually a suggestion from former slip-and-fall lawyer turned congressman, Don McEachin.  Cam ends with this:
The truth is, the bills that have already been introduced are bad enough that we don’t need to invent any new ones. Here’s a partial list of the legislation Virginia’s anti-gun lawmakers, including Governor Northam, are considering:
  • banning the most commonly produced and owned rifles in the United States
  • banning magazines that can hold more than ten rounds of ammunition
  • requiring background checks on most transfers of firearms
  • fining gun owners who fail to report lost or stolen firearms
  • prohibits individuals convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery of a family member from owning a gun.
  • banning bump stocks and binary triggers
  • turning state-owned and leased buildings into gun free zones
  • rationing handgun purchases to one per month
  • stripping parents of their ability to decide when their child is responsible enough to access a firearm.
  • weakening firearms preemption law by allowing localities to ban firearms from permitted events.
Those are just the worst of the bills that have already been pre-filed before the legislative session begins in early January. Bills can be filed until January 17th, and we know that there will be more heading our way, including an Extreme Risk Protection Order or “red flag” firearms seizure bill. Second Amendment supporters need to be armed with the facts in the weeks ahead, because if we focus on the fictions, we’re only going to be hurting our ability to effectively push back on the infringements headed our way.It doesn't help our cause if we just read parts of the bill and don't read the full bill in context.  Like Cam said, it's bad enough what Northam has said he want's to do, so we really don't need to misrepresent bills to make him look bad.