Update and Bump: 2010 VA General Assembly convenes, will consider a number of firearm-related bills this session

Update: The House Militia, Police, and Public Safety subcommittee #1 is to meet tomorrow, 28 Jan 2010, to consider several of the following bills. Since there’s starting to be a lot of action on these matters, I wanted to refresh this post so everyone could be reminded of what legislation on firearms matters is pending.

The General Assembly has reconvened in Richmond and they do have a full agenda this year. (I’ll take a moment, with hometown pride, to call out a special welcome to the GA Delegate Thomas A. “Tag” Greason of the 32nd District. Damn that sounds good!) With the budget mess, transportation issues, and the upcoming census and redistricting the General Assembly will be busy every day they’re in session.

Today, however, I’d like to focus on the Bills being submitted that relate to firearms law and the free exercise of Virginians’ 2nd Amendment rights. My thanks to the folks at the NRA-ILA for doing the heavy lifting and gathering this data into 1 place. The following information is combined from 2 NRA-ILA alerts I received in e-mail:

House Bill 8, sponsored by Delegate Bill Carrico (R-5), and Senate Bill 3, sponsored by State Senator Ralph Smith (R-22), would allow concealed carry permit holders to renew their permits by mail.

House Bill 26, introduced by Delegate Thomas Wright, Jr. (R-61), would prohibit the Clerk of the Court from requiring an applicant for a concealed carry permit to provide any documentation or information not authorized by the law or prescribed by Virginia State Police.

House Bill 49, sponsored by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), would repeal Virginia’s “one-gun-a-month” gun rationing law enacted by the Wilder Administration in 1993.  This law has only restricted the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

House Bill 52, authored by Delegate Mark Cole (R-88), would allow a court to waive a $25 dollar fine upon presentation of the permit to the court, if a person fails to display his concealed carry permit when requested by a law-enforcement officer.

House Bill 72, also introduced by Delegate Carrico, would amend the state penalties for possessing a firearm on school grounds. HB72 would reduce the penalty to a Class 1 misdemeanor from a Class 6 felony for those who inadvertently carry on school grounds.

House Bill 79, sponsored by Delegate R. Lee Ware, Jr. (R-65), prohibits the Clerk of Court from publicly disclosing concealed carry permit application information unless the permittee has provided written consent for the release of the application or information. The information will still be available to law-enforcement acting in performance of their duties.

House Bill 106, also sponsored by Delegate Cole, would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they do not consume, and would allow permit holders to carry during a religious meeting with the permission of the leader of the meeting.

House Bill 108, also introduced by Delegate Cole, would prohibit agents of localities or localities themselves from participating in “gun buy-backs” unless the governing body of such a locality authorizes such a program. The locality would then have the option of selling the firearms by auction to a federally licensed dealer (FFL) or disposing of the firearm in any other appropriate manner.

House Bill 109, also authored by Delegate Cole, would repeal the statute which allows the governing body of any county to require the sellers of pistols and revolvers to furnish the Clerk of the Circuit Court with the name and address of the purchaser, date of purchase and the number, make, and caliber of the gun.

House Bill 152, sponsored by Delegate John O’Bannon (R-73), would allow an electronic security employee who possesses a CCW permit to carry while on the job so long as he does not represent that he is carrying in the course of employment.

House Bill 171, introduced by Delegate Brenda Pogge (R-96), would prohibit property owners, employers, or a business entity from establishing or enforcing any policy prohibiting a person who may lawfully possess a firearm from storing a firearm in a locked motor vehicle in a publicly accessible parking lot.

House Bill 236, sponsored by Delegate Bill Janis (R-56), would remove the prohibition imposed by localities on hunting within a half-mile of subdivisions.

House Bill 251, introduced by Delegates Donald Merricks (R-16) and D.W. Marshall (R-14), would provide immunity from civil prosecution if
a citizen uses force, including deadly force, to defend themselves and their loved ones if attacked in their home. 

House Bill 475, authored by Delegate Charles Carrico (R-5), would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry their firearms concealed in school parking lots and into areas of the school, provided the school is not being used for official educational use or extracurricular activities.

House Bill 489, sponsored by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), would organize the current concealed carry statute into a more readable format, thereby making it easier and clearer for the average citizen to understand their rights. 

House Bill 505, sponsored by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15), would allow concealed carry permit holders to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense in restaurantthat serve alcohol,  provided that they do not consume alcohol. 

House Bill 520, introduced by Delegate Joseph Morrissey (D-74), would require anyone who exhibits, sells or offers to sell three or more firearms per year at a gun show to register as a Virginia firearms dealer. The intent of this bill is twofold: to outlaw the private transfer and sales of firearms at Virginia gun shows and to open the door to a future ban of any private transfer or sale of firearms within the Commonwealth.

House Bill 637, authored by Delegate Ward Armstrong (D-10), would exempt a boarding team member or boarding team officer in the United States Coast Guard from the concealed handgun permit issuance fee, provided they have completed 15 years of service or reached the age of 55. 

House Bill 870, sponsored by Delegate Benjamin Cline (R-24), would repeal the language that allows localities to fingerprint applicants for a concealed handgun permit.     

House Bill 879, sponsored by Delegates Mamye BaCote (D-95), Robin Abbott (D-93), Jennifer McClellan (D-71) and Jeion Ward (D-92) along with State Senator Mamie Locke (D-2), would allow localities to pass ordinances banning the possession of firearms and ammunition in libraries they own or operate.

House Bill 885, sponsored by Delegate Cliff Athey (R-18), would allow any person who may lawfully posses a firearm and is carrying a handgun while in a personal, private vehicle or vessel to keep the firearm secured in a container or compartment in the vehicle or vessel.

Senate Bill 79, authored by State Senator William Roscoe Reynolds (D-20), would repeal the language that allows localities to require concealed handgun permit applicants to produce fingerprints before issuance of a permit.

Senate Bill 268, sponsored by State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31), would gut Virginia’s firearm preemption law by allowing localities to ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding citizens in buildings owned or leased by local government. This bill would only create a confusing patchwork of local laws throughout the state.        

That’s a lot of bills! As you can see, there are bills both in favor of supporting the free exercise of those rights and those trying to restrict such exercise. There are also bills that duplicate and overlap in their language. Over the course of the next several days, I will have things to say about specific bills listed here but I wanted to get them all out on the table for everyone to see the work that needs doing in this area. As I write about specific bills I’ll link back to this page. Those linkages will appear in the comments listed on this post so check there every so often if you want to see the related posts as they come up.

The first item I’d like to address is HB106 and HB505. Both bills have been offered to clear up the situation regarding valid holders of a concealed handgun permit (CHP) being unable to continue that carriage into a restaurant. In both of the past 2 years, measures have been passed in the GA that would remove that restriction and allow persons holding a valid CHP to carry concealed past the threshold of a restaurant or other establishment with a liquor license. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it is completely legal to carry openly into a restaurant. The laws in the past 2 years were intended to clear up the inconsistency of considering someone legal to carry concealed on the street outside the restaurant but not once they pass the door. In both cases where the law was passed, soon-to-be-former Gov. Tim Kaine vetoed the bill. While the veto override carried majorities in both cases, they narrowly failed to get the 2/3rds required to override. After last year’s attempt, I and other supporters of the measure put our efforts into electing a Governor who would put our rights in the priority position they should hold and would sign the bill if presented to him. We know how that effort panned out and Bob McDonnell will be inaugurated as Governor tomorrow.

Both HB106 and HB505 seek to provide the same end result: that a person holding a valid CHP be allowed to carry concealed into restaurants. The difference between the 2 bills is primarily in their approach. HB505 makes pretty massive changed to Section J3 of Code of Virginia 18.2-308 with the goal of literally reversing the meaning of the section. A cleaner, more direct approach is in HB106 which simply removes that section all together. HB106 also specifically permits CHP holders to legally carry concealed at a “religious meeting” so long as the leader of that meeting permits it. (Current law is vague on that matter.)

I look very much forward to the GA repeating its passage of this law this year for the same reasons that it saw fit and proper to do so in the past 2 years. Given the Assembly’s stance on the matter, as demonstrated in 2008 and 2009, this is business that could be completed quickly allowing the GA to move on to more complex matters that will require more time. They should deal with this matter swiftly and move forward with the rest of their agenda.

More on these matters will follow in the days to come.


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