Virginia Shooting Sports Association

Dave Kopel: Gun Ban for Young Adults Would Be Wholly Unconstitutional

Dave Kopel, Research Director at the Independence Institute, and Joseph Greenlee, a fellow at the Millennial Policy Center in Denver, had this op/ed at yesterday making the case that banning 18-20 year-olds from buying rifles and shotguns is unconstitutional.  Beyond laying out why such proposals are unconstitutional, Kopel and Greenlee profer this question:
Some young adults 18 to 20 are married with children. These families deserve to protect themselves as much as any family does. If these adults are not mature enough to be trusted with firearms, then logic would suggest that they are not mature enough to marry in the first place.

For that matter, perhaps they are not mature enough to vote If they cannot be trusted with a squirrel rifle, how can they be trusted to elect leaders who wield nuclear weapons?Kopel was on NRATV's Cam and Company yesterday and talked in more detail about the article.  Read it at the above link.  It makes some great points.  We'll see if those points come up in the NRA lawsuit against Florida's new law.

2018 General Assembly Ends With Mixed Results on Guns

The 2018 General Assembly adjourned Saturday, March 10, but it will return for a special budget session soon as it was not able to come to agreement by Saturday.  Work on all other legislation has been completed. Of the 87 firearm related bills (both good and bad) that were introduced this session, only one HB287, a bill that the gun ban lobby put in to create a "Stop Gun Violence" license plate, was approved by the Assembly.  That bill includes a special annual $25 fee in addition to the annual license cost.  For each $25 fee collected in excess of 1,000 registrations, $15 will be paid into the state treasury and credited to the a special non-reverting fund known as the Stop Gun Violence Fund established within the Department of Accounts. These funds will be paid annually to the Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Fund and used to enhance and ensure for the coming years the quality of care and treatment provided to individuals receiving public mental health, developmental, and substance abuse services in Virginia.  That bill is now before the Governor for his signature, possible amendments, or veto.

All of the gun ban bills were defeated before Crossover.  Unfortunately, the two good bills that made it out of the State Senate, one that would do away with the "good and sufficient reason" requirement to carry in a church during regularly scheduled services, and one that would have allowed firefighters and EMTs to carry on the job, both died in the House. No pro-rights bills made it out of the House of Delegates, even with a one vote pro-gun majority. Elections do have consequences. When you look at the list of bills introduced this year by the gun ban lobby, it is easy to see how quickly Virginia would have become almost identical to New Jersey or California if the pro-rights majority that is currently in both the House of Delegates and the State Senate became an anti-rights majority because Governor Northam would have signed every one of those bills.

It is more important than ever to be a VSSA member.   Gun owners are under attack, organized, orchestrated and very well funded.  You have the "National March Against Gun Violence" that is being heavily orchestrated, by the gun ban lobby and progressives.  You need to be involved in your state association because the same gun ban laws are being circulated and distributed to gun ban legislators in every state.  What we saw introduced in Virginia this year mirrors what has already passed in states like California, Oregon and Washington State.  They are written by the Bloomberg folks and they provide all the support material behind it like talking points etc., and they bring people in to speak in support of the bills.  We need to be able to do the same.  If gun owners show up in larger numbers at committee meetings than the other side, legislators will take notice.  If the other side shows up and we don't legislators will notice that too.  Make no mistake, the other side is energized like never before.

How do you make your voice heard?  Join your state association.  Some states have a state association as well as other gun rights groups.  Join all of them, but especially the state NRA affiliated association.  State associations are full service organizations.  Not only do they lobby for our rights, they are promoting the shooting sports to the next generation so that we have people to follow us as advocates for our freedoms.   State associations are the tip of the sword at state legislatures. NRA State Liaisons cover multiple states and can't be in two places at one time. VSSA has a legislative presence everyday of the session. If you know a gun owner who isn't a member, please urge them to join today.

House Kills Last Pro-gun Senate Bill on House Floor Today

Today, the House of Delegates defeated SB715, a bill that allows any firefighter or person employed as emergency medical services personnel to carry a concealed handgun while engaged in the performance of his official duties, provided that such firefighter or person employed as emergency medical services personnel has been approved to carry a concealed handgun by his fire chief or emergency medical services chief.  The bill was defeated on a vote of 35 - 62.  This bill had previously passed the State Senate 22-18.

House of Delegates Kills Senate Bill Allowing Carrying Concealed During Worship Services

Yesterday, the House of Delegates effectively killed SB372, a bill that repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without "good and sufficient reason" to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes.  This bill simply freed churches to make their own decisions on security 24 hours a day, while current law limits options during a service.  SB372 was left in committee on the last day to hear legislation before the end of the Session, which is Saturday.   SB372 had passed the Senate while a companion House bill was killed earlier in the Session after it was re-referred to committee from the House floor just before Crossover.  The State Senate is considered to be more "moderate" than the House, even with the House GOP majority being greatly reduced after last year's election, yet this bill was approved (along party lines) in the Senate.

As noted in an earlier post, word is, Democrats intend to reverse former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion that self-defense is a "good and sufficient reason" to carry in a church during a regularly scheduled service.

Not All Survivors of Parkland School Shooting Are Pushing Gun Control

Guy Benson has a great profile at of Kyle Kashuv, a survivor of the Parkland school shooting who is not getting the attention that some of his classmates:
On the afternoon of February 14, 2018, Kyle Kashuv found himself in the midst of a waking nightmare, huddled in a classroom closet for two harrowing hours, attempting to console and reassure terrified fellow students. An apparent fire drill had abruptly turned into a bloodbath after a gunman calculatingly lured potential victims into the halls of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by pulling the fire alarm -- a ghoulish maneuver designed to maximize the bodycount. Teachers began following protocol by locking classroom doors after an active shooter alert was announced over the campus intercom system. Kashuv ended up piling into one room only after an instructor made a judgment call to unlock her door to accommodate a group of panicked students. The closet felt "like the safest place to be," he remembers. "I was trying to calm people down who were crying hysterically, letting everyone know that everything would be alright." Kids frantically checked their phones and social media feeds for emerging information as they remained holed up, waiting for a SWAT team's liberation. It finally came around 4:30pm. They had survived; seventeen others had not.You haven't seen this young man on the legacy media though. You see, he supports the 2nd Amendment and doesn't believe the acts of one deranged individual should turn the Constitution upside down.  When asked by Benson why his views have not gotten the attention of media darling David Hogg, he said:
..."I don't know," he says, hesitantly. "Maybe because I don't use inflammatory language. I speak calmly and logically without much emotion. I don't necessarily make the very best headline." He's politely referring to some of his more "famous" peers' propensity to launch provocative and partisan attacks, such as repeated assertions that people who disagree with their political or policy preferences "don't care" about dead children, or have 'blood on their hands.' But Kashuv knows that the disparate treatment he's lived isn't merely attributable to stylistic differences; he's convinced that the substance of his views is what has diminished his appeal to many activists and journalists.

"I'm a very strong Second Amendment supporter and I will continue to be throughout this entire campaign." he tells me. "As of right now, my main goal is to meet with legislators and represent to them that there are big Second Amendment supporters in our community. Through this entire thing, my number one concern has been making sure that the rights of innocent Americans aren't infringed upon." He says that when he visited the state capitol to talk to lawmakers shortly after the tragedy, he consistently asked for guarantees that the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners wouldn't be attacked or abridged. He's waded into this debate "kind of reluctantly," he admits, observing that at some point he realized that he was one of the few conservatives in his school who were speaking up in public. "It's not even by my choosing, it's just come to that," he remarks. "I feel somewhat obligated to do this because the other half of America needs to be heard. I'm doing this because I have to."He told Benson that he supports much of the "Never Again" cause, just not the gun control part, and feels "ostracized and ignored" by students and the adults  who disagree with his conservative politics. It's basically "you're with us or you're against us."   Read the entire profile.

CNN Focus Group on AR-15's

CNN's Alisyn Camerota (formerly of Fox News) continues to display her anti-gun bias (note that she can't even get her terminology right), this time at a CNN focus group.  The discussion focused on AR-15's and their usefulness for home defense.  NRATV's Grant Stinchfield and Conservative Review's/NRATV's Dan Bongino point out how some of the males on the panel talk down to a female who clearly understands why an AR-15 makes a great home defense firearm for her.  Stichfield also makes a great point at the end of the below clip that the right home defense firearm is the one that the home owner feels most comfortable using.

New YouGov Poll Results Should Cause Concern for Gun Rights Community

A new YouGov poll reports 82 percent of Democrats support the banning of all semi-automatic weapons (gun related poll data starts on page 28).  As Allahpundit at notes, that's weapons, which includes pistols, not just rifles.  55 percent of all Americans support such a ban.  There was a 50/50 split on whether it is more important to protect an individual's right to own firearms or more important to protect people from "gun violence".

On Friday, NRATV.s Cam Edwards spoke with National Review Online editor Charles Cooke about the poll results.  During the interview, Cooke said he wanted to know how the questions were asked (you can check the poll results linked above and it appears they simply asked "Do you favor or oppose the following gun control measures", then listed various options).  Cooke pointed out that the results show 37 percent of Republicans favor a semi-auto ban then asks "Does that seem plausible?"  He told Edwards while he doesn't think it's time to panic, make no mistake, the results do not bode well for Second Amendment supporters.  You can see the complete interview about the poll below.

Virginia Democrats Continue to Push Gun Ban Policies Late in Session

Even though all of the gun ban bills were killed before crossover, and the only way to get such a bill considered during the closing days of the General Assembly is for the Governor to send down a bill, they held a press conference yesterday pushing gun control.  Via WRIC TV8.

20th Annual Crush'n Clays® Registration Open

It's hard to believe that Crush'n Clays® is entering our 20th year! Crush'n Clays® is an amazing success story. It is the longest running shooting charity event in the country. This tremendous achievement would not have been possible without the tireless support of our sponsors, volunteers and participants. Over the last nineteen years, we've raised more than $348,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We look to continue this successful achievement with the 20th Annual Crush'n Clays®.
This year's event will be held on Saturday, June 9th, 2018 at the Arlington/Fairfax Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America in Fairfax County, Virginia.

We look forward to you joining us in the 20th Annual Crush'n Clays®. On behalf of the kids of St. Jude's thank you for your consideration.

Registration is now open.

AP: Trump's Gun Stance a Struggle for Congress, NRA

The Associated Press reports that President Trump's erratic statements pushing gun control has caused efforts to come to a virtual halt in Congress.  For those of us supporting the right to keep and bear arms, that is a good development.
Action on gun legislation has skidded to a halt in Congress — not for a lack of bipartisan proposals, but because President Donald Trump’s stunning shift on gun policy left some in his party confused, irritated and scrambling to figure out what to do next.

Republicans squirmed over Trump’s call for stricter gun laws after the assault on a Florida high school, while Democrats seized on the opening to reach beyond a modest measure gaining traction in Congress. They unveiled a more ambitious priority list, with expanded background checks and even a politically risky ban on assault weapons.

The tug of war over the appropriate response on the school shooting remains far from settled.

Late Thursday, Trump tweeted that he’d had a “Good (Great) meeting in the Oval Office tonight with the NRA!”At the same time, the President's comments on Wednesday that guns should be able to be seized from those thought to be a danger to themselves or others and we should deal with due process later should give all of us, whether we support gun rights or not, great pause.
We shouldn't be surprised by the President's shift, despite gun owners strong support for him in 2016.  As National Review's Jim Geraghty pointed out yesterday, the President's love for gun control isn't that sudden.  Geraghty recounted his thoughts from the 2016 NRA Annual Meeting at the time the NRA leadership endorsed Trump's campaign:
My memories of the NRA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky., in May 2016 were mostly happy ones, and not merely because it was held in Bourbon Wonderland. But I do remember sitting with Charlie Cooke in a mix of mild surprise and bemusement as the organization enthusiastically endorsed Donald Trump, earlier than it had ever endorsed a presidential candidate before.

Sure, the NRA didn’t have much choice. The Democratic nominee was Hillary Clinton, a gun-control advocate who had declared in a private meeting that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment, and I am going to make that case time and time again,” and who was so shameless that she later claimed in a nationally televised debate that the D.C. handgun ban was aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of toddlers.

But Donald Trump, a Manhattan real-estate mogul who had traveled with his own personal security for years, had never really been a “gun guy.” He says he has a concealed carry permit (hard to get in New York state). In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he wrote, “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.”

The NRA traditionally declined to endorse candidates that supported policies like that, and the group rarely was credulous about conveniently timed changes in position. An endorsement that touted Trump as a longtime defender of the Second Amendment just wouldn’t be accurate. NRA officials Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox did the best they could, speaking extensively about the menace that Hillary Clinton represented, and then touting Trump as . . . well, not Hillary.

“In a few minutes, you’ll be hearing from a man who offers a very different White House,” LaPierre said in his introduction to Trump.

Even in his remarks accepting the endorsement, Trump made comments that suggested he found owning a lot of guns . . . kind of worrisome. “My sons are members,” Trump declared. “They have so many rifles, so many guns, that even I get concerned. I say, ‘That’s a lot!’” The crowd greeted that admission with what can best be described as polite silence.Let's look at the list of things President Trump has offered over the last week as Geraghty listed them in that article:
  • Endorsed the Assault Weapons Ban.
  • Endorsed background checks for private sales at gun shows.
  • Endorsed raising the age to purchase firearms to 21.
  • Said concealed-carry national reciprocity, “will never pass.” (This has been a priority of the NRA since Trump's election)
And let's not forget he parroted the talking point of the gun banners by saying members of Congress were “petrified of the NRA”.  He then went on to say he was not. “They have great power over you people. They have less power over me.”

Gun owners need to contact the White House and Congress and politely make it known we do not support any of the proposals listed above and that law abiding gun owners had nothing to do with the atrocity that took place in Florida.  It was the failure of government at the local and federal level that did not heed the multiple warnings about the shooter and we will not be the fall guy for their inaction.

Two Richmond Area Gun Stores Have Long Standing Policy to Not Sell AR Rifles to Buyers Under 18

I received an email from a VSSA member yesterday informing me that two local firearm retailers had a long standing policy of not selling AR style rifles to buyers under 21.  This was news to me so I did a quick search and sure enough I found this report from WRIC TV 8 where they decided to ask a couple of local gun stores their thoughts on the announcement by Dick's Sporting Goods to stop selling firearms to anyone under the age of 21, including shotguns and all rifles, in their stores.  It should be noted that Dick's only sold AR style rifles in their Field and Stream branded stores.  They haven't sold them in the main chain since the Sandy Hook school shooting.  Anyway, it turns out that Greentop, the retailer that sells more firearms than any other gun store in Virginia, and Bob Moate's Sport Shop in Chesterfield both have long standing policies of not selling AR style rifles to buyers under 21.  First David Hancock from Bob Moate's:
Hancock says they don’t sell any assault-style weapons to anyone under 21. He says it’s a policy they’ve had for years. Hancock says they believe there needs to be a maturity level to own something like an AR-15.

Hancock says while some of their younger customers haven’t done anything illegal with them, they’ve made questionable decisions.

“We’ve had people go out and handle them a little more recklessly than we’d like to see,” said Hancock. Next up was CEO Blaine Altaffer of Greentop:
8News also reached out to Green Top Hunting and Fishing. While they declined to weigh in on Dick’s Sporting Goods’ decision, CEO Blaine Altaffer says his store will not sell assault-style rifles to anyone under 21. He says they have had that policy for decades.I'm wondering how many other people knew that both Greentop and Bob Moate's had this policy.

Since Dick's made their announcement, other retailers also have made similar announcements including Walmart, which said they will not sell firearms or ammo to anyone under 21, and Kroger (I know, who knew Kroger sold guns - apparently they do in Fred Myer branded stores in western states).  L.L. Bean has also announced they would no longer sell guns and ammo to anyone under the age of 21.

Those pushing to end rifle sales to buyers under 21 cite the current ban on purchasing pistols to that age group.  But if the goal is to prevent mass shootings, it would appear they are aiming for the wrong age group.  The average age of those who have committed a mass murder with a firearm is 35.  But, this isn't really about preventing these incidents, it's about appearing to "do something" which never makes for good policy.

We Are Under Attack

The number of companies that had partnered with the NRA to offer benefits to its members and are now ending their agreements continues to grow.  First it was the bank that handled the NRA Credit Card - First National of Omaha.  Then it was Enterprise, National, Alamo and Hertz rental car, and now Met Life.  This action is prompted by the efforts of the left-wing group Think Progress started a campaign to get companies to end their relationships with the NRA.

Gun owners need to make their voices heard.  We need to be just as active telling these companies that we will take our business to companies that support our rights.  They need to know they stand to lose more money from us than they stand to gain by ending their arrangements with the NRA.  Now is the time to make our voices heard.  Make them pay a price for their actions.

Legislative Update for February 23rd

We are a little over halfway through the 2018 General Assembly. At crossover, over 60 anti-gun bills had been defeated. These bills included mandatory so-called “universal” background checks, a bump stock ban, handgun rationing (one gun-a-month), bans on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms and standard capacity magazines, mandates on reporting lost or stolen firearms that put the burden on law-abiding gun owners and not the criminal, and bills that would have chipped away at state-wide firearm law pre-emption, among many others.

Some of the worst bills that were defeated this session are listed below:
Senate Bill 5 /Senate Bill 145 /Senate Bill 412 /Senate Bill 432 /Senate Bill 447 - Required a background check for any firearm transfer and requires the Department of State Police to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers. A transferor who fails to obtain a required background check and sells the firearm to another person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

House Bill 41 /Senate Bill 1 would have made it a crime to knowingly possess a “trigger activator” that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm. The broad provisions in these bills could potentially criminalize firearm modifications such as competition triggers, and ergonomic changes that are commonly done by law-abiding gun owners to make their firearms more suitable for self-defense, competition, hunting, or even overcoming disability.

Senate Bill 385 /House Bill 353 /House Bill 650 - Would have prohibited any person who is not a licensed firearms dealer from purchasing more than one handgun in a 30-day period and establishes such an offense as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Law-abiding individuals who can legally purchase a firearm should not be arbitrarily banned from exercising their Second Amendment rights for any amount of time.

House Bill 927/ Senate Bill 794 - Would have prohibited any person from importing, selling, bartering, or transferring a firearms magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. A violation is a Class 6 felony. The bills prohibited a person from carrying semi-automatic center-fire firearms with more than 10 rounds of ammunition in a public place; under existing law, this prohibition applies only in certain localities and only to such firearms if the firearm holds more than 20 rounds of ammunition. The bills also increaseed from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony the penalty for carrying a semi-automatic center-fire firearm and a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered in a public place. The bills redefined "assault firearm" by reducing from more than 20 to more than 10 the number of rounds of ammunition that a firearms magazine will hold in order to be defined as an "assault firearm" and prohibits a dealer from selling, renting, trading, or transferring from his inventory such an assault firearm to any person. Also, the bills reduced from more than 20 to more than 10 the number of rounds of ammunition that a firearms magazine will hold in order to be defined as an "assault firearm" for purposes of possession or transportation by a person younger than 18 years of age. In addition, the bills increases the penalty from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony for a person younger than 18 years of age to possess or transport a handgun, an "assault firearm", or a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered, with some exceptions.

Senate Bill 119 /Senate Bill 228 /Senate Bill 443 - These bills required a person who lawfully possesses a firearm to report the loss or theft of the firearm to any local law-enforcement agency or the Department of State Police within 24 hours after such person discovers the loss or theft or is informed by a person with personal knowledge of the loss or theft. The bills required the relevant law-enforcement agency to enter the report information into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). A violation would have been punishable by a civil penalty of $50 for a first offense and not less than $100 or more than $250 for any subsequent offense.

Pro-Gun Legislation

Among the pro-gun bills that survived and are moving through the House of Delegates are Senate Bill 372, sponsored by Senator Ben Chafin. SB 372 repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without good and sufficient reason, to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes is being held at such place.  Also, Senate Bill 715, sponsored by Senator Amanda Chase would allow any firefighter or person employed as emergency medical services personnel to carry a concealed handgun while engaged in the performance of his official duties, provided that such firefighter or person employed as emergency medical services personnel has been approved to carry a concealed handgun by his fire chief or emergency medical services chief.

Unfortunately, there were a number of pro-gun bills that failed to advance.  Those bills included legislation that would have provided a sales tax exemption for gun safes under $1000, constitutional carry legislation, and a bill prohibiting the sharing of information regarding Virginia concealed handgun permits law enforcement in states that do not recognize a Virginia concealed handgun permit as valid in the state.

The good news is that all of the bad bills died before crossover.  The bad news is there are virtually no opportunities to expand our rights this session.

Given that we almost had a flip of the House of Delegates from pro-rights to anti-rights, it could have been a lot worse.

Reason Magazine Gun Ban Scenario is Very Plausible

Sebastian over at the blog Shall Not Be Questioned has a post on a article that looks back a few years after hypothetical new restrictions on semiautomatic weapons have been enacted.  It is an article that includes some well placed links to articles that help support the thesis laid out.  The article's point is that even after the ban, the country is even more divided but no less armed.  I agree with Sebastian that it is a very plausible scenario.

Let's look at some of the scenario. The author starts out by point out that after years of failure at the legislative approach (with some exceptions in places like California and New Jersey), the strategy chosen by the gun ban lobby was to shift the a campaign of making gun ownership socially unacceptable, similar to what was done with tobacco in the 90's. Then, the author suggests, legal changes would be possible.  He links to an article from yesterday's Market Watch to show this is already under consideration.

But unlike the 90's when there was no alternative to the anti-tobacco messages in the media, today, such anti-gun messages played only to those pre-disposed to agreeing with them:
That's "sort of" because, while anti-gun messages were a big hit with some media platforms, they were immediately countered by vigorous counter-efforts through opposing channels by pro-gun groups. That was something that never happened during the battles over tobacco. American culture—and media, with it--was far more fragmented than it had been in the days of unchallenged anti-smoking ads.

So the anti-gun message found an audience among those who were already predisposed to listen. These were people whose politics were generally left of center, and who followed media outlets to match. The result was declining gun ownership among those who were already wary of the practice. Before the anti-gun campaign, researchers found that "44% of Republicans and independents who lean to the Republican Party say they own a gun, only 20% of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the same," but now the number of left-leaning gun owners started to fall even further. But, and here is the cautionary note because we are seeing it playout in the aftermath of the Florida school shooting with the President's directive on "bump stocks" and even offering to consider raising the age to legally purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, the cultural onslaught (like what we are seeing with the Florida students demanding something be done), assisted by the a fumbling bunch of Republicans, had enough impact to flip congress and the White House, and with it, major changes—including on gun control.  The article points out that millions refused to comply with the new bans, again, linking back to articles about how only a small number of people complied with real confiscation and registration schemes in places like Connecticut.

The article goes on to describe the specific changes and how the gun issue became more partisan issue than ever.  It is a good and very believable read and I highly recommend the article.

Alexanderia Democrat Attacks Law-abiding Gun Owners - Delegate Gilbert Responds

Earlier today, Alexandria Democrat Delegate Mark Levine attacked law-abiding gun owners in a newsletter that says Republican polices are aligned with mass murder, terrorists, Al Qaeda and Nazis. House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert responded an a statement released to the press:
"We were incredibly disappointed by Delegate Levine's email. There was no subtlety or attempt at implication; this was a direct and overt personal attack on those who believe in the rights of law abiding citizens to own a gun, and an insult to those who support rational and reasonable political discourse.

"The violent act that occurred in Florida at the hands of a deranged individual is heartbreaking and infuriating to us all. I know Delegate Levine would be the first to criticize my desire to keep the victims and their families in my prayers, but I do so nonetheless. Many of us are willing to be part of a sensible discussion on violence and mental health in our communities and schools, but this email is not a productive contribution to the dialogue.In the days following the school shooting in Florida, the gun ban lobby has trotted out their same old tired list of gun control that would not have prevented the tragedy last week.  In fact, we have learned that the FBI dropped the ball when it came to warnings about the behavior of the accused prior to the shooting.  Delegate Levine's attempt to imply that supporting the Second Amendment rights of Virginia's gun owners amounts to supporting terrorists and Nazis is unbecoming of a Virginia legislator and shows just how low progressives will sink to make a political point.

Washington Post: More Respondents to Poll Blame Problems Identifying, Addressing Mental Health Issues for Mass Shootings Than Say Inadequate Gun Laws

You can find the article here.  Here is the key point:
In the poll conducted after a gunman killed 17 people at a Florida high school last week, more than three-quarters, 77 percent, said they think more effective mental health screening and treatment could have prevented the shooting.

The Post-ABC poll also finds that 58 percent of adults say stricter gun control laws could have prevented the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but there is no rise in support for banning assault weapons compared with two years ago and the partisan divide on this policy is as stark as ever. On the issue of whether allowing teachers to carry guns could have deterred the rampage, a proposal Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said is an option for schools, 42 percent said they agreed.Yes, that is over a majority that site gun control as a preventative measure but it's over 2/3 that cite deficiencies in the nation's mental health system.

National Review's Jim Geraghty did a deeper dive into the poll this morning in his Morning Jolt:
Let’s start off the week with some surprising poll numbers. For starters, despite a near-unanimous tone of media coverage praising the old Assault Weapons Ban and pointing to it as the solution to mass shootings, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds Americans are about evenly split on the idea.

But Americans are roughly split on this proposal, with 50 percent in support and 46 percent opposed, a stark contrast from the 80 percent support for the ban in 1994, the year it was enacted. The current level of support is little different from 51 percent in 2016.

Also. . .

A slight 51 percent majority of parents with children under 18 who live at home say the Florida shooting could have been prevented if teachers were able to carry firearms, compared with 38 percent of Americans without young children. There is a smaller parental divide in support for banning assault weapons, a policy backed by 46 percent of parents and 51 percent of non-parents.Geraghty also goes on to discuss the larger majority of people who believe failures in the mental health system have more to do with the rash of mass shootings than the nation's gun laws.

Last week's shooting was also the topic of the Sunday news talk shows.  The Post had this compilation.
Looks like after a pretty good record on the issue as Ohio's Governor, John Kasich has reverted back to his former support for banning semi-automatic firearms.  These poll numbers however probably won't help the gun ban lobby, which has worked hard with many in the media (with one notable exception) to push the narrative that last week's attack was the 18th school shooting this year.  It was the Washington Post that said that claim is "Flat Wrong."

House Bill Giving Churches Flexibility on Carry Decisions Dies in House Friday

On Friday, HB1180, a bill that repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without "good and sufficient reason" to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes, was referred to the Committee on Courts of Justice from the full House, essentially killing the bill in the House as all committees had to complete their work ahead of today's Crossover.  The patron of the bill, Delegate Dave LaRock, made the motion at the beginning of Friday's session.  No explanation was given at the time of the motion.  An identical bill has already passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

As was mentioned in Friday's morning's Legislative Update, all this bill does is frees churches to make their own decisions on security 24 hours a day, while current law limits options during a service. As was also mentioned on Friday, Democrats are likely going to try and reverse former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion that self-defense is a "good and sufficient reason" to carry in a church during a regularly scheduled service.  This can be done by simply requesting a new opinion from the new Attorney General, Mark Herring.

The Senate bill is still alive, though Governor Northam has stated that he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk. 

Annual Christopher Newport University Poll Continues to Push Gun Control

The Christopher Newport University Wason Center for Public Policy released it's annual poll of issues being considered at the General Assembly earlier this week.  While the narrative in the poll is the public overwhelmingly supports gun control, when you dig into the poll, you see that the actual questions asked do not offer a detailed explanation of the issues polled and are simplistic at best.

For instance, while the Wason Center says 84 percent of respondents "support background checks for private gun sales" including "even 76 percent of Republican respondents", the actual question asked was:
  • Q16: There are several bills before the General Assembly related to guns and gun safety. As I describe each one, please tell me if you support or oppose it.
  • A. Making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks:
Absolutely no explanation of what proposals on private gun sales means.  And, the vast majority of sales at gun shows already undergo a background check.  The way this question is asked, it gives the impression to those less informed,  no such checks are performed at gun shows.  Regarding private sales, it is very likely the numbers would have been lower had the poll explained that proposals, and laws in other states related to private sales, don't cover just sales, but "transfers."  A "transfer" includes you loaning a firearm to a spouse or boy/girlfriend,  training class attendee, or a friend at the range. While those pushing such changes in Virginia law learned from the experience in other states and included specific allowances for immediate family or loaning for hunting or target shooting, they still require a background check to be performed on family members beyond immediate family, lifelong friends, and members of your local gun club.

Here's the wording for the so-called "assault weapons" questions.
  • B. A ban on assault-style weapons:
And finally, on the issue of "Constitutional Carry":
  • C. Allow anyone who legally owns a gun to conceal carry without a permit:
Again, no explanation that so-called "assault-style weapons" are simply semi-automatic firearms that shoot no differently than the common hunting rifle or offering additional information like "Vermont currently allows law-abiding gun owners to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, would you support such a policy in Virginia".

Unfortunately, Americans are uninformed on many issues.  Polls with such simplistic questions play right in to that ignorance.  A more reliable poll would take the time to explain the issues being polled.

Legislative Update for February 9th

As we approach the February 13th Crossover Day (the last day to consider legislation in the House of origin) all but a handful of firearm related bills have been heard in committee.  The good news is of those bills heard, all of the bad bills have been defeated.  The bad news is almost all of the good bills have died, or been softly killed by carrying them over to next year.  It is rare that a bill carried over survives to actually see the light of day in the following session.  This week, Senate Finance carried over SB48, the Constitutional Carry bill, and SB350, a bill that would extend the expiration date for Concealed Handgun Permits (CHPs) from 5 to 15 years.  The thing is, both were essentially killed because of a supposed "fiscal impact", yet the fees charged for CHPs are only supposed to cover the costs of processing so if you a) no longer need a permit to carry concealed as with Constitutional Carry or b) only have to process once every 15 years instead of 5 years, there is no fiscal impact.

On the positive side, Senate Finance did report to the full Senate SB715, a bill that would allow firefighters and EMTs to carry concealed on the job.  That bill will be on final approval in the Senate next week.

In the House, HB1180, a bill that repeals the statutory prohibition on carrying a gun, pistol, bowie knife, dagger, or other dangerous weapon, without "good and sufficient reason" to a place of worship while a meeting for religious purposes, continues to be passed by for the day.  This is usually a sign that there is a problem, which does not make a lot of sense because the Senate has already passed it's version of the bill, albeit along party lines.  All this bill does is frees churches to make their own decisions on security 24 hours a day, while current law limits options during a service. Word is, Democrats intend to reverse former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion that self-defense is a "good and sufficient reason" to carry in a church during a regularly scheduled service.  Please contact your Delegate today and urge them to vote for HB1180.  Be sure to explain that this bill does not force churches to allow carry, it only frees them up to make those decisions on their own based on their security needs.

Finally, the small number of bad bills that still remain alive are in House Courts of Justice.  Those bills have not come up for a hearing to date.  The list of bills remaining are below:
  • HB 43 Firearms; reporting when lost or stolen.
  • HB 198 Firearms; removal from persons posing substantial risk, penalties.
  • HB 707 Firearms; allowing access to children, penalty.
  • HB 1327 Pneumatic guns; Class 6 felony to possess on school property, etc.
  • HB 1385 Concealed handguns; disqualifications for permit, adjudications of delinquency.
  • HB 1544 Firearms; possession, etc., following convictions for certain misdemeanor crimes, penalty.
There is a good bill that is also awaiting action in House Courts of Justice:
  • HB 408 Right to keep & bear arms; codifies opinion of Supreme Court of the U.S. in D.C. v. Heller.
VSSA will continue to let members know if your action is needed on any of the above bills.

Legislative Update - Good Week for Virginia Gun Owners

It was a good week for Virginia gun owners in the General Assembly this week as more of Governor Northam's gun ban agenda was defeated in Senate and House of Delegate committees.  First on Wednesday, Senate Finance dispensed with a bill that would ban bump stocks (SB1), and a bill that would add private and public preschools and day care centers as places where firearms are banned (SB79).  In the House of Delegates, the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee Subcommittee #1 met for three hours last night and disposed of a long list of bad bills as well as advancing three good bills.  First, the good bills that advanced:
  • HB681 Nonresident concealed handgun permits; time of issuance. Requires the Department of State Police (Department) to issue a concealed handgun permit to a nonresident within 45 days of receipt of the nonresident's completed application unless it determines that he is disqualified. Reported and referred to Appropriations
  • HB1255 Concealed handgun permits. Allows any person who is otherwise eligible to obtain a concealed handgun permit to carry a concealed handgun without a permit anywhere he may lawfully carry a handgun openly within the Commonwealth. (Constitutional Carry) Reported and referred to Appropriations 
  • HB1398  Application for a concealed handgun permit.Allows a Virginia resident or domiciliary to submit an application for a new concealed handgun permit via mail. Currently, only persons who have previously been issued a concealed handgun permit may submit an application via mail. Reported and referred to Appropriation.
The bad bills that were defeated are below:
  • HB68 Firearms; libraries owned or operated by localities.
  • HB261 Localities; regulation of firearms in government buildings.
  • HB597 Firearms; mechanical devices designed to increase the rate of fire, penalty.
  • HB648 Transfer of multiple firearms; report to the Department of State Police. (requires dealer who sells more than two firearms to one individual to notify the state police)
  • HB649 Firearms, certain; prohibited public carrying, penalty.
  • HB814 Firearms; control by localities, lawful demonstrations and protests.
  • HB819 Firearms; prohibits mechanical devices designed to increase rate of fire, penalty.
  • HB929 Licensed family day homes; storage of firearms.
  • HB949 Firearms; transfer, criminal history record check delay.
  • HB950 Firearm or pneumatic gun; allowing access by children age four or younger, penalty.
  • HB1009 Firearms, certain; prohibited public carrying, penalty.
  • HB1019 Firearms, etc.; permitted events.
  • HB1052 Firearms; control by localities, lawful demonstrations and protests.
  • HB1394 Firearms show; list of vendors or exhibitors submitted to State Police.
It should be noted that the subcommittee failed to recommend reporting one bill that VSSA remained neutral because it continues something that the General Assembly has regularly done in the past - set up a separate class of gun owners (in this case retired-law enforcement) that is able to exercise rights that all of us should be able to exercise.
  • HB1443 Concealed handguns; retired law-enforcement officers may carry without a permit, etc.
When the Session began, there was a huge question what such a small pro-rights majority and the loss of so many good Second Amendment supporting legislators would mean for gun owners.  Would some of the remaining members be open to supporting things like banning common firearm accessories like bump stocks?  The results of the first half of the session have been positive in that all of the bad bills that have come before committees to date have been defeated.  A small number of pro-rights bills still remain alive and the VSSA Legislative Team will continue to work for passage of those bills.