Starting tomorrow, Virginians will no longer be allowed to take an online class to satisfy the handgun competency requirement for the state’s concealed carry application.
Politicians who backed the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2021, claim that online courses are no substitute for in-person training.
Prospective applicants almost got a break as the Senate this year, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, passed a bill that would have delayed the rollout until July of 2021.
However, the House of Delegates shot that bill down, thus keeping things on track for the start of the New Year.
Given the impending deadline, many Virginians in recent weeks signed up for online concealed carry classes.
Ryan Heathcock, of Chesterfield, finished an 8-hour virtual class on Wednesday morning. Though he has yet to purchase a handgun, he wanted to get his ducks in a row before the law changes.
“I’m just glad that I was able to sneak in with the law as it’s currently written and not have to deal with what happens after January the 1st,” Heathcock told WRIC. “It’s not an accident that the courthouse is full today. I’m not the only person who feels this way.”
While anti-gunners will no doubt tout this new restriction as a win for “gun safety,” one local gun shop owner believes the focus should be on the quality of the training, not simply whether it’s virtual or in-person.
Steve Dowdy, the co-owner of Bob’s Gun Shop in Norfolk, argued that getting rid of online classes makes little sense because there is no live-fire mandate as part of the training.
“There are going to be thousands of classes held where people just sit in, listen, learn and never touch a handgun, so in my opinion what’s the difference between online and that?” said Dowdy.
Dowdy suggests that if the state is going to mandate in-person classes, there should be a hands-on portion to familiarize students with firearms.
To obtain a concealed carry permit one must be 21 years old, provide documentation of proof of handgun competency, pass a background check, and pay a nominal licensing fee not to exceed $50. For more information visit the Virginia State Police website.