Virginia: ‘One-Handgun-A-Month’ Rule Is Still Dead

Photo from Virginia General Assembly

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recent battles against pro-gun bills prevailed this week when self-defense supporters in the General Assembly were shy of the votes needed to override his vetoes of the legislation.

But legislators did block McAuliffe’s request to revive Virginia’s “One-Handgun-A-Month” rule. The House and Senate reconvened Wednesday, April 5 to consider overriding McAuliffe’s vetoes from the 2017 legislative session, but all 40, including the gun measures, were upheld.

McAuliffe vetoed five self-defense bills last month, including Senate Bill 1299 and counterpart House Bill 1852, that would have let people with protective orders carry concealed handguns without permits for 45 days, said Mitch Wells, an attorney at Riley & Wells in Richmond and an Independent Program Attorney for U.S. Law Shield of Virginia.

Wells added that the permission to carry a gun without a permit would have lasted 45 days after approval of the protective order or until the order expired, whichever came first. The 45-day window would have given a person enough time to apply for an actual permit.

But, according to a statement from McAuliffe, “These bills were disguised as means to increase safety, but they would have done just the opposite.”

On Wednesday, senators voted 23-17 to override the veto of SB 1299, but that was four votes short of the 27 needed to prevail.

In the House, the vote on HB 1852 was 65-34—two short of the 67 needed to override.

Likewise, HB 1853 and its counterpart, SB 1300, were short of votes needed to override on Wednesday. The Senate vote was 22-18—again, 27 were needed to override—and 65-34 in the House, just two short of the 67 needed.

Wells said these bills would have required courts to provide lists of gun safety and training classes to people applying for protective orders. The legislation would also direct the Department of Criminal Justice Services to approve training programs for the lists.

“The department would have been authorized to reimburse training providers with money from the Domestic Violence Victims Fund. The money would have covered the costs of training domestic violence victims,” Wells said.

The governor’s veto of SB 1362, a bill to let members of the regular armed forces, National Guard, and reserves carry concealed handguns while off duty, was six votes short of the 27 needed to override it. The final tally was 21-19.

Wells explained this bill would have extended off-duty concealed carry privileges to service members, as long as they had their military ID cards with them.

McAuliffe chose not to veto another self-defense bill, SB 1023, because he wanted to use it to carry an amendment that would have revived Virginia’s “One-Handgun-A-Month” law. SB 1023 is intended to block sharing information about Virginia concealed handgun permits with police in other states that don’t recognize the validity of Virginia’s permits.

The governor, however, needed a vehicle to reinstate the One-Handgun-a-Month law, so he picked SB 1023. He explained that the law began in 1993, but the legislature repealed it in 2012.

McAuliffe said the rule was meant to counter Virginia’s reputation as the gunrunning destination of the East Coast—a distinction that, he asserted, has returned.

Lawmakers, however, voted 19-21 on the amendment and, consequently, it was “not sustained.”

“I am disappointed,” McAuliffe said. “The legislature’s ill-advised step to repeal this common-sense policy has made Virginia a go-to state for criminals to purchase weapons in bulk again.”

SB 1023 was sent back to McAuliffe for his signature. No action was taken as of Friday, April 7. —Bill Miller, Contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog

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