Opponents Call Reciprocity ‘A Gift to the Gun Lobby.’
Last week Virginia Republican lawmakers and Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) reached across the aisle to announce that they have come to an agreement to reverse a recent policy change that revoked concealed-carry reciprocity with 25 other states.
Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced the dramatic change in policy late last December, arguing that the other states’ permitting processes were less restrictive and not valid by Virginia standards. Not only does this new deal restore the previous reciprocity agreement, it further extends it to recognize concealed-carry permits from all issuing states.
In exchange for expanded concealed-carry reciprocity Republican lawmakers extended the reach of the state’s police to enforce existing federal laws that prevent people convicted of violent domestic abuse from buying or owning guns. This is in line with what many gun rights groups have been asking for, further upsetting gun control groups.
“Gov. McAuliffe should reconsider this dangerous gift to the gun lobby,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. The governor and lawmakers have yet to finalize the agreement, and gun-control advocates and Democrat leaders are still trying to block it.
Until the new law is finalized Virginia gun-rights supporters are going to keep the pressure on.
“To many concealed handgun permit-holders, permit reciprocity is a huge deal, especially if they travel out-of-state regularly and want to be able to carry discreetly,” said Philip Van Cleave, president of the The Virginia Citizens Defense League, or VCDL. “For example, there is no solution to carrying in South Carolina if we don’t have an agreement between our two states.”
“Things could still go south as the key bills that make up the deal work their way through the legislature and onto the governor’s desk,” said Van Cleave. “[The] VCDL will be monitoring the deal’s progress, watching for changes that negatively affect gun owners.”
The new law also adds a provision that would put a state trooper at every gun show to conduct voluntary background checks on face-to-face sales. McAuliffe also argued that the trooper would help prevent illegal gun sales simply by being present at the shows.
In an attempt to strike while the iron was hot, Senator Richard H. Black (R) brought a bill to the floor that would eliminate concealed-carry permit requirements altogether, making Virginia a Constitutional-carry state. The bill was defeated after the tie vote was broken by Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam (D).
While the Republicans hold a state Senate majority 21-19, Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R), a moderate, sided with the Democrats on the vote. The vote was otherwise decided on party lines.