Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) signed a bill into law last Friday that restores and expands Virginia concealed-carry policy for residents and visitors to the state. The new law reverses McAuliffe’s December 2015 executive order that crippled concealed-carry reciprocity between Virginia and other states.
The order triggered instant backlash from gun rights supporters in Virginia and the rest of the country. The altered policy prompted state lawmakers to reassess gun laws in Virginia. With bipartisan support, lawmakers drafted the new law which includes one Democrat-backed provision that keeps guns out of the hands of anyone with a two-year protective order against them in cases of domestic violence.
“This is a bipartisan deal that will make Virginians safer,” said McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy. “It also demonstrates that Democrats and Republicans can work together on key issues like keeping guns out of dangerous hands.”
The new law provides for a state trooper to be available at all Virginia gun shows to conduct voluntary background checks for face-to-face transfers. Police presence at guns shows is also expected to discourage illegal transfers.
“Common ground on this issue, as you know, has been elusive for so long,” McAuliffe said, reports the Star-Exponent. “We had a choice to make: We could continue to shake our fists and condemn the status quo or we could take action to actually change it — to do what voters actually elected us to do.”
“I’m so proud to announce that a new era begins today here in the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Gov. McAuliffe. “These new laws will serve as permanent protections for our citizens. They will remain in place when I leave office.”
Previous proposals to qualify people with protective orders against them as prohibited persons were unpopular with many Republican lawmakers, but this was accepted in order to quickly resolve broken concealed-carry reciprocity agreements. In exchange for the concession, pro-gun lawmakers expanded reciprocity to even more states.
“Now, more than six million law-abiding gun owners will be free to travel in and out of Virginia with their Second Amendment rights intact,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA in the official statement. “Self-defense is a fundamental right that must be respected.”
Under the new laws, H.B. 1163 and S.B. 610, all out-of-state concealed-carry permits are recognized provided the person is 21 years old or older and has a valid state-issued government photo ID on their person. The law makes exceptions for issuing states that don’t have a 24-hour permit validation system and anyone who previously had a Virginian carry permit that was later revoked.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the bills, now signed into law. Anti-gun groups like the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the CSGV, remain opposed to the measures.
“We obviously were disappointed with the governor because we thought he could have made a much better deal,” said CSGV Executive Director Josh Horwitz in a statement. “But now that the deal is finalized, we intend to take lemons and make lemonade by working with all stakeholders to ensure that the domestic violence law is vigorously implemented and forms the basis for future policy change in the Commonwealth.”