Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has vetoed legislation that would have allowed a person under court-ordered protection to carry a concealed handgun without a permit.
The Governor said in a statement that the bill “perpetuates the dangerous fiction” that domestic violence victims would be safer if they were armed.
The bill “would inject firearms into a volatile domestic violence situation, making that situation less safe, not more,” McAuliffe continued. “I will not allow this bill to become law when too many Virginia women have already fallen victim to firearms violence at the hands of their intimate partner.”
House Bill 1852 would have allowed many of these women to carry a firearm for self-defense. It permitted anyone in Virginia who has a protective order and is over 21 to carry a concealed firearm without a permit for up to 45 days after the order is issued.
It would have then given anyone with an active order an additional 45 days to carry concealed should they apply for a permanent concealed-handgun permit, which can take up to 45 days to process.
The bill was designed, proponents say, to allow victims of domestic violence to arm themselves immediately without waiting for a concealed carry permit to be issued.
According to Philip Van Cleave, the president of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the first 48 hours after a protective order is issued are the most critical time for a potential victim to be armed.
“Protective orders really enrage the aggressor and the vetoed bill would have allowed the victim to be fully armed, yet in a discreet manner, even during those initial 48 hours,” Cleave told the Washington Free Beacon. “Sadly, the governor’s veto will likely cost innocent lives.”
As to McAuliffe’s concern about introducing firearms into a domestic violence dispute, Cleave pointed out that many times a firearm can act as a deterrent, allowing the victim to avoid a confrontation altogether.
“Governor McAuliffe claims we don’t need to introduce a gun into a ‘volatile situation,’ where there is a protective order in place,” Cleave said. “He’s completely wrong. That situation is exactly where we DO want to introduce a firearm. Knowledge that the victim is armed is a great incentive for the aggressor to stay away.”
The NRA also chimed in, telling the Beacon that “victims of domestic abuse should be free to protect themselves with more than a piece of paper.”
The bill passed by a vote of 63-31 in the house of delegates and 26-14 in the senate. A veto override would require a two-thirds majority in both houses.