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Virginia: McAuliffe’s First Attempt to Roll Back the Rights of Gun Owners

Thursday, March 6, 2014

With only two days left in the 2014 regular legislative session, Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) has made his first attempt to limit the legal use of firearms in Virginia by returning an amendment to House Bill 962 that would further restrict how handguns may be stored in vehicles.  Sponsored by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24), HB 962 would codify an Attorney General opinion from 2012 (see here), and a decision of the Virginia Court of Appeals from last year, Doulgerakis v. Com., 737 S.E.2d 40 (Va. Ct. App. 2013). House Bill 962 has passed in the House of Delegates by a 70 to 27 vote as well as in the Senate by a 27 to 13 vote.

This opinion and decision both found that a handgun in a vehicle doesn’t have to be in a locked compartment in the motor vehicle to fit within a statutory exception to the concealed carry prohibition that allows for a person without a permit to conceal a firearm within a secured compartment or “secured” container within a motor vehicle.  The McAuliffe amendment seeks to contradict the opinion and ruling by forcing drivers to keep firearms in a “locked” container rather than being allowed to secure those firearms in a container without a lock as they have lawfully been doing for years.  What began as a simple clarification bill would be turned into legislation that is worse than current law.

The House of Delegates is expected to vote on this amendment tomorrow.  Please contact your Delegate and respectfully urge him or her to vote against this restrictive amendment.

On a brighter note, as of July 1, hunters in the Commonwealth will finally be permitted to hunt on Sundays on private property with written landowner permission.  House Bill 1237 was signed into law yesterday and its Senate companion, Senate Bill 154, is expected soon to be enacted as well.  Please contact the sponsors of these bills, Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-15) and Senator Phil Puckett (D-38), and thank them for their leadership to expand and protect the Commonwealth's rich hunting heritage and providing greater opportunities to hunt that will strengthen recruitment and retention.

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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.