Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) has used his first veto on House Bill 962, an uncontroversial bill to codify an Attorney General opinion from 2012 (see here) and a decision of the Virginia Court of Appeals last year, Doulgerakis v. Com., 737 S.E.2d 40 (Va. Ct. App. 2013).
Sponsored by Delegate Ben Cline (R-24), HB 962 would have made Virginia law consistent with the Attorney General opinion and the Virginia Court of Appeals decision, which both found that a handgun in a vehicle does not 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. HB 962 passed in the House of Delegates by a 70-27 vote on January 22 and passed in the Senate by a 27-13 vote on February 17.
As originally introduced, HB 962 would have made a simple clarification to an already existing law, by clarifying how and where gun owners could transport firearms in their vehicles. However, McAuliffe attempted to amend this bill into legislation that would have been worse than current law when he offered a Governor’s amendment. If adopted, the McAuliffe amendment would have contradicted the Attorney General opinion and Virginia Court of Appeals 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. The Governor’s amendment was defeated by a 30-70 vote in the House of Delegates on March 7.
This veto does nothing to change current law – storing a loaded handgun in a secure compartment or container in a vehicle still remains legal for all gun owners. Not only was Governor McAuliffe’s veto an anti-gun action, it was also gratuitous. Terry McAuliffe is clearly out of touch with Virginia gun owners, and it is disappointing to see him exercise his first veto on an uncontroversial bill backed by an Attorney General opinion and a Court of Appeals decision. As always, your NRA-ILA will be standing guard in Virginia to ensure your Second Amendment freedoms are protected, and will be closely monitoring any additional attempts by McAuliffe to infringe on your rights in Richmond.