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Petty Politics

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Petty Politics

Freshman Virginia Delegate Dan Helmer (D-40) pretends he is an advocate for “gun safety,” but his election last year merely sent another petty politician to Richmond whose true agenda is to attack law-abiding gun owners and undermine our right to keep and bear arms.

While there are any number of anti-gun bills that will soon be considered in Virginia—and he appears to support them all—Helmer decided his constituents would like to see him waste time by filing legislation that is both petty and antithetical to his claim to support “gun safety.”

The new legislator recently filed three anti-gun bills, but it was his first bill, HB 567, that calls into question his motivation. This bill would ban certain indoor shooting ranges.

You may ask yourself, why would someone who claims to promote “gun safety” want to ban facilities where people learn and practice gun safety? Good question.

First, let’s point out how little a man who proudly proclaims his service in the armed forces appears to know about guns, or at least gun ranges. His bill defines an “indoor shooting range” as one that, among other things, is a “fully enclosed or indoor area or facility designed for the use of…skeet, trap…or any other similar sport shooting.” When was the last time you found yourself enjoying a round of skeet or trap at an indoor facility?

That silliness aside, what is Helmer really trying to do, besides generate publicity and campaign funds?

(It should be noted that, after his initial press release about his bills, he turned the negative response he received to his anti-gun proposals into a fund-raising campaign, so we expect him to do the same with this.)

His bill would ban any indoor shooting range in any privately owned building if the building also has 50 or more employees working in that building. His justification for this, according to his own press release, is “in light of recent workplace shootings.” He does not, of course, mention such a tragedy that would have been impacted in any way by his bill.

Helmer’s legislation is not clear as to whether it is talking about the range itself having 50 or more employees, and if they are only counted if they are all on the clock at any given time, or if they are counted regardless of whether or not they are on premises. Or is he thinking about a range in a building with 50 or more employees that do not work at the actual range?

Based on the language of the bill, it appears that Helmer has one range particular in mind, this one.

Yes, that is the NRA’s own range, open to NRA members and the general public. It’s state-of-the-art, has an impeccable safety record, and is staffed to offer all who visit the latest instruction in the safe, responsible handling of firearms. Again, we thought Helmer was all about promoting “gun safety.”

Apparently not. Dan Helmer wants to close down NRA’s range because, most likely, he simply doesn’t like NRA. Helmer may have served in the Army, and achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, but it sounds like he should have served in the Navy, as that is one petty officer.

Helmer’s bill is so poorly drafted, as is the standard for anti-gun bills introduced for the 2020 Virginia session, that it may actually apply to several other large indoor ranges throughout the Commonwealth. Due to the vague 50 employee threshold, other ranges would likely be affected.

It is unlikely anyone will take Helmer’s bill seriously, except those who would put their dislike of NRA and law-abiding gun owners above their duty as public servants. Nonetheless, Virginia NRA members and gun owners who are actually concerned about promoting firearm safety—like the kind that is learned by visiting ranges like NRA’s—should contact their lawmakers in Richmond to let them know just what they think about Helmer’s petty publicity stunt.

For more information on the anti-gun efforts in Richmond, and how to contact your elected officials, please go here.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Virginia Shooting Ranges
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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.