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Updated: 26 min 40 sec ago

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.

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

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.

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