Further revealing that their operative motive is political prejudice rather than public safety, the Michael Bloomberg-bought Virginia House of Delegates has escalated their direct attacks on law-abiding gun owners and your NRA. Astute readers will remember that earlier this year Delegate Dan Helmer (D-40) introduced HB 567, a bill calculated to shut down the NRA Range in Fairfax, Va. This week, the House of Delegates Public Safety Committee passed HB 264, which targets NRA’s high-quality firearms training.
HB 264 would limit law-abiding Virginians’ ability to obtain a Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) by reducing the ways in which an applicant could demonstrate the requisite competence with a handgun.
At present there are a several ways to demonstrate this competence, which are enumerated in VA Code Ann. § 18.2-308.02. This includes:
- Completing any National Rifle Association firearms safety or training course;
- Completing any firearms safety or training course or class available to the general public offered by a law-enforcement agency, institution of higher education, or private or public institution or organization or firearms training school utilizing instructors certified by the National Rifle Association or the Department of Criminal Justice Services;
- Completing any firearms training or safety course or class, including an electronic, video, or online course, conducted by a state-certified or National Rifle Association-certified firearms instructor;
HB264 would eliminate all reference to the National Rifle Association in § 18.2-308.02 and eliminate the training option outlined in the first bullet point entirely.
This means that the state would no longer by default recognize the firearm safety and training courses offered by NRA. Firearms instructors would be required to obtain an additional state certification from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) in order to offer classes that would satisfy the training requirement for a CHP. The legislation does not grandfather current NRA instructors from this requirement. At present, there are almost 3,000 NRA certified firearms instructors in the Commonwealth.
This change would be even more dangerous than it first appears. The DCJS firearm instructor certification requirements are set by regulation. This means that they can be altered by Virginia’s executive branch. Anti-gun politicians, like disgraced Gov. Ralph Northam and Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, could increase the burdensome certification requirements without going through the General Assembly. This could choke off the availability of the DCJS firearm instructor certification, and therefore law-abiding Virginians’ access to the training necessary to exercise their Right-to-Carry.
HB264 would also eliminate the ability to acquire the requisite CHP firearms training through a video or online course.
These changes are designed to make it harder for law-abiding Virginians to access the firearms training required to exercise their Right-to-Carry. Reducing the number of individuals certified to provide CHP training and manner in which the training may be administered would limit the availability of such training - endangering those facing a threat that necessitates immediate access to a CHP. This reduction would also increase the costs of receiving training - creating a regressive economic burden that would disproportionately harm the poor and vulnerable.
These burdensome changes will not benefit public safety. For his book More Guns Less Crime, Economist John R. Lott attempted to measure the effects of burdensome Right-to-Carry training requirements. Lott determined that “The presence or length of training periods typically show no effect on crime…” Lott also found that an increase in training requirements and permit fees will lower the rate at which individuals obtain Right-to-Carry permits.
The Public Safety Committee’s attack on high-quality electronic, video, or online firearms training is especially luddite and nonsensical. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles offers online “driver improvement clinics” (sometimes court-ordered) that can determine whether or not a driver will be permitted to continue to operate a motor vehicle in the Commonwealth. Virginia’s premier public institutions of higher education, like the College of William & Mary, offer online degree programs.
Once again, the Bloomberg-bought House of Delegates has proven that their gun control agenda is about their own ugly political and cultural bigotries.
Stay tuned to www.nraila.org for updates. And, in the meantime, please sign up to volunteer to help defeat Gov. Ralph Northam and Michael Bloomberg’s gun control legislation.