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Virginia: Senate Passes Emergency Powers Legislation, Senate Committee Forced to Re-Vote on Gun Bills

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today, the Virginia Senate passed Senate Bill 245 by a decisive 34 to 5 vote.  Sponsored by state Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26), SB 245 would update Virginia’s Emergency Powers statute by adding lawful carrying and transportation of firearms to the list of actions that cannot be prohibited during a declaration of emergency.  This legislation will now be sent to the House of Delegates for consideration.

At this time a House committee has not been assigned for Senate Bill 245, so please continue to check your e-mail and www.NRAILA.org for updates on this legislation.

This past Wednesday, the state Senate Courts of Justice Committee heard a number of firearm-related legislation and passed a number of pro-gun bills.  However, due to procedural mistakes, all of the bills this Senate committee took action on will now have to be reconsidered on Monday.  While this technically puts the bills previously passed up for a new vote, no major changes are expected.

Pro-gun advocates were also under the impression that they had achieved a legislative victory when Senate Bill 323 was originally voted out of committee.  However, like the bills listed below, it will also have to be reconsidered on Monday.  Drafted by the NRA and sponsored by state Senator Bill Carrico (R-40), SB 323 would repeal the prohibition on law-abiding citizens buying more than one handgun within a thirty-day period.  Anti-gun opponents have long claimed that gun rationing keeps handguns out of the hands of criminals, but history has shown this law to be ineffective, and to only affect and penalize law-abiding citizens. 

The following bills will be considered by the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on Monday, January 30:

Senate Bill 4 and Senate Bill 64 were rolled together - using the bill number of the former - and will most likely remain the same.  SB 4, sponsored by state Senator Richard Stuart (R-28), and SB 64, sponsored by state Senator Bill Stanley (R-20), would codify a version of the "castle doctrine" allowing the use of physical force, including deadly force, by a person in his dwelling against an intruder in the dwelling who has committed an overt act against him or another person in the dwelling, without civil liability. SB 4 originally passed by an 8 to 7 vote.

Senate Bill 67, sponsored by state Senator Bill Stanley (R-20), SB 67 would remove the option for a locality to require an applicant for a concealed handgun permit to submit fingerprints with the application.  Senate Bill 670 was rolled into this legislation.  SB 670 was also originally passed.

Senate Bill 224, sponsored by state Senator Mark Herring (D-33), would prohibit someone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from ever owning a firearm.  This legislation also was passed originally.

Senate Bill 324 was carried over until next year.  Sponsored by state Senator Bill Carrico (R-40), SB 324 would have established legislative preemption of any administrative action taken by an administrative body that has the direct or indirect effect of governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, storage, or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, unless the administrative body has express statutory authority. If this bill had passed, any administrative action taken prior to July 1, 2012, having a direct or indirect effect of governing the purchase, possession, transfer, ownership, carrying, or transporting of firearms, ammunition, or components or combination thereof, other than those expressly authorized by statute, would have been invalid.

Anti-gun legislation noted previously, state Senator Don McEachin’s (D-9) legislation to close the so-called “gun-show loophole,” was passed by for the day last week, so will be brought up again.  Senate Bill 379 would create a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who is not a licensed dealer to sell, rent, trade, or transfer a firearm to any other person who is not a licensed dealer. This bill also would create a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who is not a licensed dealer to buy, rent, trade, or transfer a firearm from any other person who is not a licensed dealer.

Senate Bill 429 was also passed by for the day on Wednesday.  Sponsored by state Senator Frank Ruff (R-15), SB 429 would provide that the form provided by the State Police to be completed upon the sale of a firearm shall contain only the questions specific to Virginia law. The bill also provides that a copy of the consent form required under federal law for the purposes of running a criminal history record information check upon the purchase of a firearm shall be sent to the State Police by the dealer.

Anti-gun Senate Bill 554 was originally passed in committee on Wednesday.  Sponsored by state Senator Barbara Favola (D-31), SB 554 would create a Class 1 misdemeanor for the transportation or possession of firearms within the residence of the alleged victim by persons subject to emergency protective orders issued as a result of an assault and battery against a family or household member.

Senate Bill 563 was also passed by for the day and will be reconsidered. Sponsored by state Senator Frank Ruff (R-15), would alter certain application procedures to obtain a concealed handgun permit, including allowing for the submission of an initial application via U.S. mail. This bill would also restrict the clerk and the circuit court from requesting or requiring any information from an applicant other than that which is allowed on the concealed handgun permit application.

Senate Bill 612 was carried over until next year. Sponsored by state Senator Dick Black (R-13), SB 612 sought to transfer the duties of firearm background checks from the Commonwealth to the federal government. This legislation would help streamline the process and reduce the time it takes to approve a transaction. This legislation was in response to the increasing long delays on sales by the Virginia Firearm Transaction Program.

Senate Bill 648 was also passed by for the day and will be reconsidered. Sponsored by state Senator Don McEachin (D-9), SB 648 would provide that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a person who is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs to carry a loaded firearm on or about his person in a public place and that a person found guilty is ineligible to apply for a concealed handgun permit for a period of five years. This bill also creates a Class 2 misdemeanor for a person who carries a loaded firearm on or about his person onto the premises of any restaurant or club licensed to sell and serve alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption and consume an alcoholic beverage while on the premises.

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