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Legislative Update

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

With just a couple days left until the end of the 2015 Session of the Virginia General Assembly, six bills have made their way to the desk of Governor Terry McAuliffe.  A few bills have gotten stalled and are likely dead for the session.  I spoke with Cam Edwards of Sportsman Channel's NRANews Cam and Company earlier this week about the bills that passed and what bogged down other legislation in the final days.

Obama's Squeeze Play on Ammunition

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Kevin Williamson of National Review has a great article titled A Pincer Movement on Ammunition that discusses how gun owners are now dealing with the ATF on one side and the EPA on the other trying to limit our access to ammunition.
The upshot of all this maneuvering is that the ATF intends to revoke the sporting exemption for certain popular kinds of .223 ammunition, allowing it to be reclassified as armor-piercing and therefore banned, even though it is not designed as armor-piecing ammunition and has no special armor-piercing characteristics. The reason for this is that the feared and hated AR-style rifle has been enjoying a new career as a handgun. This is yet another consumer response to federal regulation: Some people prefer short-barreled rifles, particularly for home-defense situations when they will most likely be used indoors, but federal law makes short-barreled rifles a special category of weapon that requires additional permits and taxes, and some jurisdictions ban them outright. But if you remove the shoulder stock from an AR-style rifle, it’s not a rifle — it’s a handgun, albeit one of the clumsiest and goofiest handguns on the market. But the fact that there is a multi-shot handgun commercially available for those non-lead .223 rounds means that such ammunition can be banned as armor-piercing, even though it is not armor-piercing ammunition, by use or by design. So, everybody goes back to lead, right? Wrong

Environmental groups have been pressuring the EPA to begin regulating — or to ban outright — lead ammunition under the Toxic Substances Control Act. They lost their most recent round when the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA lacks statutory authority to regulate lead ammunition, but when has statutory authority stopped the Obama administration? The FCC has no statutory authority to enact net-neutrality rules — that’s why it has reached back to a 1930s, New Deal–era law for justification. You can be sure that the campaign to use the EPA or other federal agencies to ban lead ammunition is far from over. The U.S. Humane Society already is petitioning the Interior Department to ban lead ammunition on public lands.Obama can't get what he wants legislatively so he is relying on his agencies to do his bidding.  Gun owners have a habit of reacting when there is a direct challenge as they did after Obama's big gun ban push after the Sandy Hook school shootings but unfortunately, when there is no perceived direct threat, we tend to be less attentive.  We need to understand, this is a direct threat.  If we can't buy ammo, what good are our firearms?  Kevin Williams spoke with Cam Edwards of NRANews in an extensive interview yesterday about what this threat means.

Retired School Teacher Faces Jail for Possessing Antique Flintlock Pistol

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Have you heard about New Jersey retired teacher Gordon Van Gilder?  He's the latest to fall victim to New Jersey's draconian gun laws.  Van Gilder is facing up to 10 years in prison for having an antique flintlock pistol in his car. In the below video, Van Gilder tells NRANews' Ginny Simone about facing the same felony charge for his unloaded mid-1700s firearm as he would for a loaded .44 Magnum.
I've said it before that I'm glad I live in Virginia.  I don't have a lot of hope that this type of thing is going to change anytime in the near future.

Mark Warner May Hold Deciding Vote on National Reciprocity

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

The Hill has an article this morning on the renewed push for National Concealed Carry Reciprocity.  Texas U.S. Senator John Cornyn recently introduced the bill for the current session and has been making the rounds talking it up.

The last time the National Reciprocity bill fell just short of the 60 votes needed to cut off debate.  Now that Republicans are in the majority of the U.S. Senate, there is hope that there will be enough votes to push the bill over the top:
Supporters of the legislation believe they can secure enough Democratic votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster and get the legislation to President Obama’s desk.

While Obama is unlikely to sign the bill, given his support for stricter gun controls, getting the legislation through Congress would give Second Amendment advocates a significant victory.

Gun-control groups are planning to fight back hard, setting the stage for what promises to be a contentious battle over Second Amendment rights ahead of the 2016 elections.Illinois Republican Senator Mark Kirk voted against the bill the last time it came up.  That means it would need the support of all of the remaining 53 Republicans and seven Democrats to pass.  The list of Democrats being targeted includes Virginia Senator Mark Warner.
Advocates plan to focus much of their lobbying on the Senate Democrats who have voted for the concealed carry bill in the past: Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Tom Udall (N.M.) and Mark Warner (Va.).

Warner has a mixed record on issues related to our Second Amendment rights.  As Governor of Virginia, he signed a number of pro-rights bills, including a preemption bill that put all matters related to firearms in the hands of the General Assembly. He did not veto any pro-rights legislation.  For his record as Governor, Warner earned an "A" rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2008.  But after the Sandy Hook school shooting, he made some comments that maybe it was time to consider new gun control and he voted for the Schumer/Manchin/Toomey background check amendment which would have criminalized private sales of firearms between friends and gun club members, among others.  That earned him a "C" rating when he ran for re-election in 1014.

Yes, Warner voted for National Reciprocity in the past.  But the only way to make sure he votes for it this time is if he hears from gun owners.  The gun ban lobby is going to go all out to try and stop the bill from reaching that all important 60th vote.

PolitiFact Rates Lori Haas/Everytown Statement on Background Checks Half True

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

About a month ago when the General Assembly was considering McAuliffe backed gun control legislation, the gun ban lobby held a press conference in the hope of swaying legislators ahead of committee votes.  During that event, gun ban activist Lori Haas sited an Everytown for Gun Safety statistic that in states where there are background checks on private firearm sales, "49% fewer women are shot and killed." PolitiFact decided to put the statement to the test and found, once again, Everytown plays fast and loose with their numbers:
We should note, however, that Haas’ statement focused on a broader definition of victims.  She cited "women" without any reference to whether they were domestic violence victims.

So to examine her exact statement, we needed to find figures on gun murders deaths of all women, which are not in Everytown’s report.After researching the numbers, PolitiFact found, the number while still significant, was 11% lower than Everytown's number that Haas used.  They also found there were states that did not require background checks on all purchases and had lower deaths of women than states that require them on all purchases:
Minnesota, which has no requirement for background checks on private handgun sales, had a rate of 0.6 firearms homicides for every 100,000 women. That was one-third the rate of North Carolina, which requires a background check of anyone seeking to buy a handgun.

Then there is the issue of cause and effect.  PolitiFact spoke with experts such as Gary Kleck who noted states may be taking other steps beyond gun control to reduce domestic violence (though Everytown did not specifically say they were comparing domestic violence deaths).

In the end, Haas got a half true rating for Everytown's claim, which is about what we have come to expect from the group.

Oppose ATF 5.56 M855 Ball Ammunition Ban

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

I guess we now know that President Obama's "Executive Actions" are not limited to granting amnesty to illegal aliens. ATF is seeking to ban commonplace 5.556 M855 ball ammunition because it says the ammunition is "armor piercing."  The agency is seeking pubic comment on this action so now is the time for gun owners to vigorously oppose this ban.  NSSF notes:Commonly available steel-core, "green tip" M855 and SS109 rifle ammunition that is primarily intended and regularly used for "sporting purposes," like target shooting, has been exempt from federal law banning armor piercing ammunition for decades. There is no question that the 5.56 ball ammo has been in wide use by law abiding American citizens for sporting purposes.
 It is with the increasing prevalence of handgun versions of rifle platforms, that ATF now apparently sees an opening to now ban the widely used M855 and SS109 ammunition. It would be legally permissible to continue to possess and use so-defined "armor piercing" ammunition currently possessed. However, rescinding the decades-old exemption will have a major impact. It will become illegal to manufacture, import, distribute or sell at retail this very popular rifle target ammunition. ATF's proposed "framework" for applying the "sporting purpose" exemption test rewrites the law passed by Congress to disregard the manufacturer's intention that a projectile or cartridge is "primarily intended for a supporting purpose." ATF inappropriately places the focus on how criminals might misuse sporting ammunition in a handgun. Just as disturbing, language used by ATF in its long white paper refers to criminals as a "consumer group." The implication that the industry purposely sells firearms and ammunition to criminals is misleading and echoes the shopworn charges of the gun control lobby.   Manufacturers will face serious limitations in their ability to develop and market alternative ammunition in other popular hunting rounds, such as .308 rifle hunting ammunition, if ATF's so-called "framework" is adopted. This will have a detrimental effect on hunting nationwide, especially in California where a total ban on traditional ammunition for hunting is being phased in now.   ATF is soliciting comments on how it can best implement withdrawal of this exemption while "minimizing disruption to the ammunition and firearm industry and maximizing officer safety". Under the proposed framework, 30-06 M2AP cartridges would continue to be exempt because there are no multi-shot handguns generally available that accept such ammunition. The proposal is useless since standard lead-only 5.56 ammunition is "armor piercing" simply due to the round's velocity. Rifles in this caliber, or any caliber for that matter, are rarely used in crimes.ATF will accept comments on this proposal until March 16, 2015.   They aren't making it easy.  Instead of a web site devoted to comments as most agencies use, you have to email, fax, or write ATF and tell them you oppose the proposal to ban commonly used ammunition for America's most popular sporting rifles.  When you contact ATF, be sure to reference "AP Ammo Comments."  You can contact ATF at:

Email: APAComments@atf.gov 
Fax: (202) 648-9741. 
Mail: Denise Brown, Mailstop 6N-602, Office of Regulatory Affairs, Enforcement Programs and Services, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 99 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20226: ATTN: AP Ammo Comments.
 

Bill Exempting CHP Holders from Background Checks Advances in Senate Courts

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Yesterday the Senate Courts of Justice Committee advanced all of the pro-rights bill on the docket, including HB2029, a bill that would exempt Concealed Handgun Permit (CHP) holders from a background check when they purchase a firearm.  Federal law allows those who hold a CHP to be exempted from background checks if they have had a check performed in the last five years through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).  HB2029 would add that check to the processing of a CHP application or renewal.  Currently 23 states have this exemption as allowed by federal law.

The State Police, which has become a mouthpiece for the anti-rights McAuliffe administration this year strongly opposed the bill according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Tom Bradshaw of the Virginia State Police cited statistics showing that during the past five years, police sent 1,100 letters to circuit courts indicating a disqualified permit holder.

He said there were 227 permit holders who were subject to disqualification because of involuntary commitment to a mental health institution and 2,500 restraining orders were issued on holders of concealed handgun permits.

“During that five-year period a lot of things can actually occur,” Bradshaw said.The bill now goes to Finance where it should be reported out as there is not fiscal impact due to an increase in the fee charged applicants to conduct the additional background check at the time of processing.

Also reporting yesterday were HB1329 which would recognize out of state CHPs as long as the out of state resident also has a government issued photo id on his or her person.  HB1329 was also referred to the Finance Committee.

Both bills may face vetoes from Governor McAuliffe.  Keep watching the blog for action alerts should the bills pass the Senate.  Gun owners will need to flood McAuliffe's office with phone calls and emails.

Finally, HB1666 advanced and moved to the Senate Finance.  HB1666 is Delegate Fowler's bill that permits a nonresident of the Commonwealth prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition because of a felony conviction or a juvenile adjudication of delinquency of certain offenses to petition the circuit court where his last felony conviction or adjudication of delinquency occurred for restoration of his right to possess, transport, or carry a firearm.  Current law does not provide for venue for a nonresident's restoration petition.

Gun Show Floor Amendment to Budget Defeated in House

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Earlier today, Delegate David Toscano proposed an amendment to the House Budget that would have provided money for private sellers to use the State Police to conduct voluntary background checks on firearms they sell at gun shows.  The amendment is below:
Chief Patron: ToscanoItem 413 #7hPublic SafetyDepartment Of State PoliceLanguage
Language: Page 360, after line 35, insert:
"H.1. Notwithstanding any provisions of the Code of Virginia, the Department of State Police shall be available at every firearms show held in the Commonwealth to make determinations in accordance with the procedures set out in § 18.2-309.2:2 of whether a prospective purchaser or transferee is prohibited under state or federal law from possessing a firearm. The Department of State Police shall establish policies and procedures in accordance with 28 C.F.R § 25.6 to permit such determination to be made by the Department of State Police. Unless otherwise required by state or federal law, any party involved in the transaction may decide whether or not to have such a determination made. The Department of State Police may charge a reasonable fee for the determination.
2. The promoter, as defined in § 54.1-4201, shall give the Department of State Police notice of the time and location of a firearms show at least 30 days prior to the show. The promoter shall provide the Department of State Police with adequate space, at no charge, to conduct such prohibition determinations. The promoter shall ensure that a notice that such determinations are available is prominently displayed at the show.
3. No person who sells or transfers a firearm at a firearms show after receiving a determination from the Department of State Police that the purchaser or transferee is not prohibited by state or federal law from possessing a firearm shall be liable for selling or transferring a firearm to such person.
4. The provisions of § 18.2-308.2:2 including definitions, procedures, and prohibitions shall apply, mutatis mutandis, to the above provisions."The amendment failed on a vote of 35-63.

Violence Policy Center's Misleading Concealed Carry Study

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

The Violence Policy Center (VPC) comes out with a study each year that purports to show concealed carry permit holders are dangerous.  Yesterday the New York Times editorialized about the latest study in the usual fawning manner they do with anything having to do with gun control.  Even if VPC's number of 722 "non self-defense" deaths caused by 544 concealed carry permit holders were correct, you would still be talking an infinitesimal percentage of the estimated 11 million permit holders in the country.  But, as Bob Owens over at BearingArms.com points out, there are a lot of caveats that go with the particular incidents VPC includes in their study:
In order to demonize the practice of concealed carry, the Violence Police Center ran into the insurmountable hurdle of not being able to find a significant number of concealed carriers using their legally concealed weapons to commit violent crimes.
In order to pad their report, VPC was forced to:
  1. include incidents where concealed carry was in no way part of the alleged crime.
  2. include incidents where there wasn’t even a conviction, but just allegations of a crime.
  3. include unsubstantiated, apparently mythical “crimes” without a named victim or perpetrator.
Owens also noted that and some of the people that VPC called murderers were either exonerated in court or had charges against them dismissed.

There is no getting around the fact that concealed carry permit holders are some of the most law abiding people in the country.  That's why groups like VPC have to use "slight of hand" tactics to try and make their case.  People like the editors at the New York Times won't check VPC's numbers.  Thankfully there is the new media to get the truth out.

Senate Bills in House Subcommittee Thursday

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Bills are going to move even more quickly with only two weeks left in the session.  Senate Bills that made it to the House will be in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee Subcommittee #1 this afternoon at 4:00.  The bills on the docket are:

S.B. 936 - would give law enforcement (including police, sheriffs, Capitol Police, and Virginia State Police) the option of donating an unclaimed firearm to the Department of Forensics in lieu of destroying the firearm. 

S.B. 948 - would prohibit the Virginia State Police from providing concealed handgun permit (CHP) holder information to law enforcement in states that do not have a reciprocal licensing agreement with Virginia.  This would prevent states like Maryland and New Jersey from going on “fishing expeditions” to find an excuse to arrest or harass Virginia CHP holders if they are stopped for nothing more than a routine traffic violation.

S.B. 1137 - would exempt concealed handgun permit holders from any local ordinances that ban having loaded rifles or shotguns in a vehicle on any public street, road, or highway.  Currently law enforcement, military and any person who reasonably believes that a loaded rifle or shotgun is necessary for his personal safety in the course of his employment or business are exempted.

S.B. 1155 - would require law-enforcement agencies to return stolen firearms to the rightful owner unless the person is prohibited from possessing the firearm or it is needed in a criminal prosecution.

S.B. 1191- would amend the statute that makes it a crime to possess a firearm, stun weapon, knife, and certain  other weapons on school property to require that the person must have knowingly possessed the firearm or other weapon.

VSSA's lobbying team does not expect any problems getting these bills out of committee or through the House of Delegates.

Virginia Legislative Update

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Tuesday was the last day that the General Assembly could take up bills from the house of origin.  All surviving bills have now crossed over and VSSA is happy to report that not a single gun control measure made it out of the House of Delegates or the State Senate.  That is a massive smack down to Governor Terry McAuliffe who made gun control a major part of his 2015 legislative agenda. 

In reality, McAuliffe likely knew none of it would survive and calculated he could use the defeat as a campaign point in this year's legislative elections.  That too may be a miss calculation as he has very few pick-up opportunities in the House of Delegates and just as few in the State Senate.  He only needs one however to regain control of the State Senate so it is critical that gun owners be very active this election year to protect the pro-rights majority in the State Senate.  Below is a list of pro-rights bills that still remain alive for the remaining two and a half weeks of the Session.
  • HB 1287  Forfeiture of property used in connection with the commission of crimes; conviction required.
  • HB 1309 Local school boards; arming of school security officers
  • HB 1329 Out-of-state concealed handgun permits; photo identification.
  • HB 1666 Firearms; restoration of rights, petition to any circuit court. 
  • HB 2009 Firearms, certain; law-enforcement certification.
  • HB 2015 Exemption from creditor process; bankruptcy proceedings (Makes several changes to articles that may be exempted from creditor process including removing the one gun limit)
  • HB 2029 Concealed handgun permits; fees; background check; exemption for permit holders.
  • HB 2286  Provides that the prohibition on the possession and transportation of firearms, ammunition, stun weapons, and explosive materials by convicted felons does not apply to a felon whose right to possess firearms or ammunition has been restored under the law of another state or political subdivision
  • SB 848 Governor's Twenty marksmanship award. Establishes the "Governor's Twenty" marksmanship award to recognize the top 20 competitors in each of the rifle and pistol Excellence-in-Competition matches conducted at the annual Virginia State Championships conducted by the Virginia Shooting Sports Association. 
  • SB 936 Unclaimed firearms; donation to Department of Forensic Science.
  • SB 1137 Loaded rifle or shotgun; regulation of transportation.
  • SB 1155 Firearms; confiscation, reporting, and return by law enforcement.
  • SB 1191 Firearms; possession on school property.
It is likely that none of the Senate bills will encounter problems in the House of Delegates.  The only House Bill that could have tough going in the Senate is HB2029, that exempts concealed handgun permit (CHP) holders from background checks when they purchase a firearm.  Those checks would have to also undergo a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check to qualify for the federal exemption from background checks for those with CHPs.  When the bill is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Courts of Justice, the meeting notice will be posted here and an alert will be sent to VSSA members to contact committee members.

Finally, as was reported here on Saturday, the budget amendment that would have had a severe impact on the Northern Virginia Gun Club was pulled by the patron before the final Senate budget was announced.  While the VSSA and NRA lobbyists worked members of the committee, this result would not have been possible if VSSA members and members of the NVGC had not contacted members of the Senate Finance Committee. Thank you again for answering our call and standing up for fellow gun owners.

This is shaping up to be a very successful session.

Ladies Only Classes Big Hit at Local Range

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Friday night, WTVR CBS 6 had this story on the rise of female gun ownership and the popular "Ladies Only" training classes that are a regular fixture at Colonial Shooting Academy:
“You can relate to girls,” explained Kingery. “There’s none of that macho stuff going on – no one being all big man. It’s just girls wanting to learn and doing it properly.”The report noted recent Gallup Poll numbers that show 23% of all women own a gun, a 10% jump over a six-year period. Add to this a new National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) report highlighted at the 2015 SHOT Show that over a third of women in the study were new gun owners and had purchased their first firearm within the last three years. None of this is really news to VSSA.  Our affiliated clubs commonly "sell-out" NRA Women on Target clinics run by the clubs.

Amendment Affecting Northern Virginia Gun Club Pulled

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

VSSA received word from its lobbyist early this morning that the Senate budget amendment that would have had an adverse impact on the operation of the Northern Virginia Gun Club has been withdrawn.  We will know for sure when the final Senate budget is announced but the fact it has been announced to the press is a very good sign.  The Fredericksburg Free Lance Star reports:
A bill that would have turned a private trail in King George County into a state park made it to the General Assembly for the first time this session, then was withdrawn Friday.

Still, supporters of the Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail said they’re encouraged the proposal was included in a Senate bill.The club was not the only group of people who would have been affected by the amendment it is the belief of VSSA that those promoting the amendment had not provided full disclosure to Senator Hanger, the patron of the amendment, as to all of the landowners that would have been affected if it had passed.

First, thanks to the VSSA legislative team for their work with committee members to help get the amendment pulled.  A special thanks also to all of the members of the Northern Virginia Gun Club and VSSA members who contacted the Senate Finance Committee and let their voice be heard in support of protecting the club.  Should something change between now and the time the Senate budget is announced tomorrow, VSSA will alert the membership.

House Subcommittee Defeats Gun Control Bills, Advances Pro-rights Bills

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 met Thursday afternoon and dealt a fatal blow to three more gun control bills:

HB2045 Protective orders; possession of firearms; penalty. Prohibits a person who is subject to a protective order from possessing a firearm; currently, such person is only prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm. Such conduct is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Defeated

HB2328 Protective orders; person must surrender any firearms, penalty. Provides that a person who is subject to a protective order must surrender any firearm possessed by him to the court within 24 hours of being served with the protective order. The court shall prepare a written receipt, which shall be signed by the person surrendering the firearm, containing the name of the person, the date on which it was surrendered, and the manufacturer, model, and serial number of the firearm and provide a copy of the receipt to the court. The bill provides further that the person may present the copy of the receipt to the court upon the expiration of the protective order and the court shall then return the firearm. The failure to surrender a firearm is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill also prohibits a person who is subject to a protective order from possessing a firearm, where currently such person is only prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm. Defeated

HB2359 Concealed handgun permits; proof of competence. Makes various changes to the types of training courses permitted to satisfy the requirement to demonstrate competence with a handgun in order to obtain a concealed handgun permit, including (i) requiring that a National Rifle Association (NRA) or Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) training course focus on the use and handling of a concealed handgun; (ii) requiring that a law-enforcement officer qualify to carry a handgun rather than a firearm in the course of normal police duties; and (iii) requiring that online NRA or DCJS training courses be synchronous. The bill also eliminates certain existing methods for demonstrating competence with a handgun, including (a) completing a hunter education or safety course; (b) completing a law-enforcement firearms safety or training course offered to security guards, investigators, special deputies, or any other division of law enforcement or security enforcement; and (c) having previously held a concealed handgun permit. The bill also provides that any proof of demonstrated competence with a handgun shall expire five years from the date of completion of such course or class. Defeated

Unfortunately, the subcommittee also decided against reporting Delegate Ware's Lifetime Concealed Handgun Permit bill (HB1359).  The problem with both the House and the Senate bills was no fee had been assigned to the lifetime permit.  Both required the State Police to do periodic background checks during the life of the permits.  Because no revenue was assigned to the bills, the current budget shortfall meant that the money committees were not going to advance bills that had a fiscal impact.  This gives us a year to work on the bill, determine a reasonable fee, and convince the legislature that the background checks can be done without a negative fiscal impact to the budget.

On a positive note, the subcommittee recommended reporting HB1329, Delegate Ware's bill that removes certain requirements for an out-of-state concealed handgun permit or license to be recognized and accepted in Virginia and instead requires an out-of-state permit or license holder to carry a government-issued photo identification and present such identification upon demand by a law-enforcement officer in order for his out-of-state permit or license to be recognized and accepted in Virginia.  The bill now moves to the full committee.

The subcommittee also recommended reporting HB2009, which requires when certification of a chief law-enforcement officer is required by federal law for transfer of a firearm as defined in the National Firearms Act, such certification must be provided within 60 days if the applicant is not prohibited by law from receiving the firearm.  For the purposes of this measure, the definition of "firearm" is limited to machine guns, rifles and shotguns of a certain length, weapons made from certain rifles or shotguns, and silencers. If the chief law-enforcement officer fails to provide certification within 60 days, the applicant has a right to an ore tenus hearing in circuit court and, unless the evidence shows that the applicant is prohibited by law from receiving the firearm, the court shall order the chief law-enforcement officer to issue the certification within five business days. 

HB2029 was also recommended for reporting.  HB2029 provides that a licensed firearms dealer does not have to have a criminal background check performed to determine a person's eligibility to purchase a firearm if the purchaser possesses a valid concealed handgun permit and presents a photo ID issued by an agency of the Commonwealth or the Department of Defense. The bill also requires that the State Police, in preparing the report from the Central Criminal Records Exchange for the circuit court with regard to an applicant for a concealed handgun permit, shall initiate a search of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for purposes of obtaining criminal history record information regarding the applicant. 

Finally, the subcommittee recommended reporting HB2214 and referring the bill to House Appropriations. HB2214 provides a mechanism for reporting to the Department of State Police when a circuit court restores a felon's right to possess, transport, and carry a firearm. Prior to entry of a restoration order, the petitioner's fingerprints and petition are sent to the Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE) and the petitioner's criminal history is forwarded to the court and may be inspected by the attorney for the Commonwealth. If the order is granted, the Department of State Police shall enter the person's name and description in the CCRE so law-enforcement personnel accessing the computerized criminal history records will be aware of the order's existence.

Senate Finance Kills Lifetime Carry Permits

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee killed one pro-rights bill and one anti-rights bill saying the Commonwealth did not have enough money to pay for either bill.  No fee had been attached to the lifetime carry bill so the committee was not dealing with a revenue stream from the permits, only a cost to periodically check backgrounds after to make sure the holder was still eligible.  The anti-rights bill killed was SB943, a bill that would take away for gun rights for certain misdemeanor crimes.  I had the opportunity to discuss both with Cam Edwards on NRANews.com.

Senate Budget Amendment Targets Northern Virginia Gun Club

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

The Senate Budget Bill includes an amendment to allocate $520.000 in non-general funds from bond issues to purchase the "Dahlgren Heritage Railroad Trail" (DHRT) and incorporate it into Caledon State Park.

This former CSX railroad-right-of-way (CSX RROW) was established during the WWII time frame to link the Dahlgren Naval Base to the railroad system. It was then abandoned after the war for many years. The abandoned RROW transects the property of the Northern Virginia Gun Club. If the state completes the proposed purchase, it will severely restrict the club's ability to continue the present day utilization that has been the norm for over 43 years. The Northern Virginia Shooting Facility (NVSF) leases the property to the 500 member Northern Virginia Gun Club (NVGC) a VSSA and NRA affiliated club and they need your help.

For a little background, the NVSF bought the property located at 8486 Caledon Road (Rt. 218), King George in 1969. In 1971 the land was improved to build rifle and pistol ranges south of the old CSX RROW. These ranges have been in continuous use for over 43 years. At that time the RROW passed directly through the danger zone of the impact area of our rifle ranges. Around 2002, groups interested in developing a trail cleared the RROW and renamed it the ''DHRT."

At times people walked through the property and behind the target area of the rifle range. During the time the range was in use the club had to post lookouts at each end of the range area. Each time a hiker appeared, shooters ceased firing until the area became clear again. The club eventually reached an agreement with the DHRT owners and, together with the group- 'Friends of the DHRT,' the club constructed a bypass to avoid the rifle range so that no one would be placed in danger. They could continue to hike the trail crossing part of the club's property without impacting shooting activities.  It was a win-win for all parties and the club did not lose the use of the property in which they have invested significant funds and members' efforts to develop for over 43 years.

If the state were to outright buy the "DHRT," the approximately 500 members of the Northern Virginia Gun Cub would be adversely affected through the loss of the use of significant portions of the range complex. The club provides numerous recreational opportunities to various groups and most all of the competitive events are open to the public. The property is used by Boy Scout Troops, Wounded Warriors, and 4H clubs during the year. The club also hosts state and national championships, as well as "All-Americans" and former Olympic competitors who practice and compete on the club's ranges. The club does not have other areas where they we can develop new rifle ranges on the acreage because the topography is too severe.

VSSA asks you to please contact the members of the Senate Finance Committee and ask them to oppose Senate Bill 800 Item C-25.55#1s, which is the amendment to the Senate Budget authorizing the Commonwealth to purchase the Dahlgren Heritage Railroad Trail.

Please let the know If the budget amendment referenced above is approved, the club would likely have to cease operation You must act now so that the Senate Finance Committee rejects the amendment to the budget when it completes it's work before midnight February 8.  The members of the Finance Committee and their contact information are:

Stosch (Co-Chair), (804) 698-7512
email: district12@senate.virginia.gov Colgan (Co-Chair), (804) 698-7529email: district29@senate.virginia.govHowell, 
(804) 698-7532
email: district32@senate.virginia.govSaslaw, 
(804) 698-7535
email: district35@senate.virginia.govNorment,
(804) 698-7503
email: district03@senate.virginia.gov

Hanger, (804) 698-7524email: district24@senate.virginia.gov
Watkins, (804) 698-7510email: district10@senate.virginia.gov
Lucas, (804) 698-7518email: district18@senate.virginia.gov
Newman, (804) 698-7523email: district23@senate.virginia.gov
Ruff, (804) 698-7515email: district15@senate.virginia.gov
Wagner, (804) 698-7507email: district07@senate.virginia.gov
McDougle, (804) 698-7504email: district04@senate.virginia.gov
Vogel, (804) 698-7527email: district27@senate.virginia.gov
Carrico, (804) 698-7540email: district40@senate.virginia.gov
Alexander (804) 698-7505email: district05@senate.virginia.gov

Media Focus on Woman Who Hunt and Shoot

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

World Champion shooter and Team Smith & Wesson member Julie Golob has this post on her blog on recent CNBC and ABC coverage of women and the shooting sports:
I loved the fact that CNBC chose to talk to so many women, including Smith & Wesson’s Laurel Smith who spoke about the M&P Shield. My closing comment in the piece sums up how I feel about it, that “It’s an exciting time in our industry.” Indeed it is! Focusing on fit and features, the firearm industry recognizes that female shooters and hunters are important!

This week ABC also covered the trend with an interview with Eva Shockey. Eva doesn’t fit the mold that mainstream media tends to showcase as the “typical” hunter and shooter. Neither does former Miss America contestant Theresa Vail, host of a new show coming out on the Outdoor Channel called Limitless, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Benelli 828u launch party. Then there’s Sara Palin. Love or hate her, she has that dynamic personality that mainstream media jumps at the chance to cover. She’s also a hunter that’s passionate about our gun rights.
World News Videos | ABC World News
NSSF noted during last week's Shot Show that self defense is the primary reason women are embracing gun ownership but they also want to learn how to hunt and go shooting with family and friends.

You may recall that Eva Shockey garnered a lot of attention late last year when hunting opponents began attacking her on social media for posting a photo of her and a black bear she had killed during a hunt.  She responded with grace, and even designed a limited edition clothing line with the tag line "I'll Never Apologize for Being a Hunter."
The clothing line was so popular, Shockey has reopened sales. But hurry, if you want one, there are only three days left.

Garret's SB1132 Defeated in Full Senate Today

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Senator Tom Garret's SB 1132 fell two votes short of passage today in the full Senate.  SB 1132 would have provides an exception to the crime of possessing a firearm on school property if a person has a valid concealed handgun permit and possession of a concealed handgun occurs outside normal school hours. The bill also provided an exception if a person with a concealed handgun permit stores a concealed handgun in a motor vehicle in a parking lot, traffic circle or other means of vehicular ingress or egress to the school. Current law allows possession while the person is in the motor vehicle in one of those areas.

GOP Senators John Watkins (R-Chesterfield), Stocsh (R-Henrico) and Norment (R-James City) and usually pro-rights John Edwards (D - Roanoke) and other Democrats in defeating the bill.

Senate Courts of Justice Advances Voluntary Background Check Bill

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

This morning, Senate Courts unanimously advanced SB1141 this morning.  SB1441 is Senator Lucas' bill that as originally drafted requires the State Police to be available to perform background checks for privates sales at gun shows if requested by a party involved in a transaction. Additionally, the promoter of the firearms show shall furnish the State Police sufficient facilities to perform the background checks. In order for the bill to become effective, the U.S. Department of Justice must approve the policies and procedures that the State Police will use to implement the provisions of the bill.

The reported bill was amended to add language to make it clear that private sellers who did not wish to take advantage of the voluntary checks could not be held liable if a firearm ended up being used for illegal purposes.  The bill now moves to Senate Finance to determine any budgetary impact.

House Subcommittee Kills McAuliffe's Gun Bills

Virginia Shooting Sports Association -

Tonight the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 took up eleven bills that were part of Governor McAuliffe's gun control agenda and defeated all of them. Below is the list of bills that were defeated:

HB1548 Concealed handgun permit; revocation of permit if delinquent in child support
HB1904 Firearms; penalty when accessible by children
HB1909 Firearms magazines, certain; prohibition of sale, transfer, etc
HB1997 Purchase of handguns; limitation on handgun purchases; penalty.
HB1923 Firearm transfers; criminal history record information checks,
HB2085 Firearms; purchase, possession, or transportation following certain misdemeanor convictions
HB1604 Firearms; criminal history record information check, penalties.
HB1864 Firearms show; State Police list of vendors or exhibitors
HB1671 Purchase of handguns; limitation on handgun purchases; penalty.
HB1801 Firearms; display or distribution of information at shows.
HB2232 Purchase, etc., of ammunition by persons involuntarily admitted

There are still some bad bills remaining in the subcommittee and all of the pro-rights bills are waiting to be considered.  Be sure to check the VSSA Legislative Tracking Form for the lastest information on the 2015 Session.

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