In an unhinged effort to attack Virginians’ Second Amendment rights, one member of the Michael Bloomberg-bought General Assembly is willing to undermine a bipartisan policy advanced by the previous Democratic governor and target one of the state’s most law-abiding constituencies. H.B. 569, introduced by New Jersey native Dan Helmer (HD-40), targets Right-to-Carry permit holders by curtailing Virginia’s reciprocity regime.
At present, Virginia recognizes Right-to-Carry permits issued by all other states. Out-of-state carry permit holders are free to carry in the Commonwealth, provided they obey local laws and carry photo identification. The present law also helps Virginia Right-to-Carry permit holders because some jurisdictions only grant another state permit reciprocity if that other state recognizes their permit.
Virginia’s path to full Right-to-Carry permit reciprocity was born out of an earlier episode of anti-gun lunacy. Until late 2015, Virginia recognized 30 state Right-to-Carry permits. At the time, Virginia law gave the state attorney general some discretion regarding which permits the Commonwealth would recognize.
On December 22, 2015, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced that he had conducted an audit of the state’s reciprocity agreements. The anti-gun attorney general concluded 25 of the 30 recognized state Right-to-Carry permits would no longer be recognized by the Commonwealth as of February 1, 2016.
Understanding the problems that Herring’s anti-gun activism would create for law-abiding Virginians and visitors to the state, Virginia lawmakers set to work cleaning up the attorney general’s mess. The result of this cleanup effort was rare bipartisan gun compromise.
In early 2016 H.B. 1163 and S.B. 610 were passed. The legislation made Virginia a full recognition state and required the state police to enter into formal reciprocity agreements with any state that so required. As part of the compromise, pro-gun lawmakers agreed to a measure requiring the state police to attend all gun shows in the commonwealth to provide voluntary background checks and a change to Virginia’s domestic violence protective order law. The Right-to-Carry reciprocity legislation passed the House of Delegates by a margin of 72 to 26, while it passed the Senate 29 to 11. It was then signed by Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Such bipartisan agreement was possible on this issue because the Right-to-Carry movement has been a sweeping success. Examination of Right-to-Carry permit holder revocation data in large states, such as Florida and Texas, has long made it clear that permit holders are among the most law-abiding demographics in society.
H.B. 569 would eliminate the changes made to state law in 2016, and revert it to the language that Herring abused in 2015. Despite his own blackface scandal, Herring is still the attorney general of the Commonwealth. If this legislation is enacted, Right-to-Carry permit holders can expect that Herring will finally carry out his failed 2015 gun control plan.
Helmer’s willingness to attack an extremely law-abiding segment of society and undermine the bipartisan work of his legislative predecessors illustrates just how extreme some members of the Bloomberg-bought General Assembly have become. Such foolish legislation underscores the fact that gun control is not about public safety, but rather is about arrogant politicians indulging their ugly political and cultural prejudices.
Stay tuned to www.nraila.org for updates. And, in the meantime, please sign up to volunteer to help defeat the Bloomberg-bought General Assembly’s gun control legislation.