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Wrap-Up of 2009 Virginia Legislative Session

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Virginia General Assembly ended its 2009 session on Saturday, February 28, and a number of NRA-supported bills have been sent to Governor Tim Kaine (D) for his consideration.  Several attacks on our Right to Keep and Bear Arms were also defeated.

The following bills were passed and are now on their way to Governor Kaine:

Senate Bill 1035, authored by State Senator Emmett Hanger, Jr. (R-24), would permit a Right-to-Carry permit holder to carry concealed in a restaurant, provided he or she does not consume alcohol. The House amended SB1035, improving it by removing the requirement that Right-to-Carry permit holders notify the alcohol beverage manager when they carry in their establishment.  The House passed the amended version by a vote of 66-33 and the Senate approved it 22-16. 

Senate Bill 1513/House Bill 1655, sponsored by State Senator Ralph Smith (R-22) and State Delegate Charles Carrico (R-5), requires a court to award reasonable attorney fees, expenses, and court costs to any entity that prevails in an action challenging an ordinance, resolution, motion, or administrative action as being in conflict with a locality's authority to control firearms. The Senate amended the bills by replacing “shall” with “may”, yet the House rejected the changes, which forced the bills to conference committee on the final day of session where “may” was accepted. 

Senate Bill 1528, introduced by State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37), clarifies that the safety course conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor required for obtaining a concealed handgun permit may be done electronically or on-line.  This bill passed the Senate 29-10, and the House 99-0.

Senate Bill 877, authored by State Senator Stephen Martin (R-11), would allow "retired" law enforcement officers to carry concealed in a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages. Unlike SB1035, this bill applies only to retired law enforcement officers. Given that Governor Kaine signed a similar bill for Commonwealth Attorneys last year, while vetoing the one applying to civilian permitees, it will be interesting to see if he signs this bill and vetoes SB1035.  SB 877 passed the Senate 40-0, and the House 84-15.

House Bill 2528, sponsored by State Delegate Mark Cole (R-88), would establish that no locality or entity may participate in a gun “buyback” program where individuals are given anything of value or money in exchange for surrendering a firearm to the locality unless the governing body first passes an ordinance authorizing the gun “buyback.”  The legislation also requires that any locality holding gun "buybacks" sell the firearms to a federally licensed dealer “or be disposed of in any appropriate manner” if they could not be sold.  HB 2528 now awaits the Governor’s signature or veto.

House Bill 2144, sponsored by State Delegate David Nutter (R-7), would restrict access to the Virginia concealed carry permit holder list maintained by the Virginia State Police.  This bill would make that information confidential.  The only information that would be allowed to be released to the general public would be non-identifying statistical information. In a violation of privacy, the Roanoke Times abused this data by creating a public online database with information on Virginia’s Right-to-Carry permit holders, thus, allowing criminals and thieves to target homes that contain firearms. The bill passed both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously.

House Bill 1851, authored by State Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31), would exempt active duty military personnel or Virginia National Guardsmen from Virginia’s “one-gun-a-month” law on handgun purchases. HB 1851 passed the House by a vote of 86-13, and the Senate 31-8.

Please contact Governor Kaine TODAY and respectfully urge him to sign these bills.  The Governor can be reached by phone at (804) 786-2211, by email at ima@governor.virginia.gov, and by fax at (804) 371-6351.

The following anti-gun bills failed to pass this legislative session:

Senate Bill 1257, sponsored by State Senator Henry Marsh, III (D-16), would have required that all firearm transactions taking place at gun shows be subjected to background checks -- even those occurring between family and friends. Any violations would have been a felony. Show promoters would have also been required to register anyone selling a firearm at a gun show as a “vendor,” including private citizens, and transmit this information to law enforcement who would maintain it in a public registry for four years.

Senate Bill 1166, introduced by State Senator John Watkins (R-10), would have increased the gun tax charged by the Virginia State Police to conduct the mandatory background check, from $2 to $5--a 150% increase for Virginia residents.  For non-state residents, the legislation mandated an increase of 60%, from $5 to $8.

Senate Bill 832, sponsored by State Senator Mamie Locke (D-2), would have banned firearms in any building owned or operated by a locality (such as a recreation center, administrative building, or public library) while any official governmental meetings were being held inside.

Senate Bill 1053, authored by State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31), would have given localities the authority to outlaw firearms in any buildings or facilities used for governmental purposes.

House Bill 2318, introduced by State Delegate Joseph Morrissey (D-74), would have required that a citizen be registered as a Virginia firearm dealer if they wished to sell three of more firearms at a gun show or even simply create a display at a gun show.  This would have treated those not engaged in the business of selling firearms, who may occasionally sell guns from their personal collection, as dealers.

Thank you to all of the NRA members who took action in opposition to these anti-gun bills.  Without you, these victories would not have been possible!

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.