Tuesday, February 9, 2016

McAuliffe on Receiving End of New Bloomberg Newspaper Ad

The Washington Post reports this afternoon that the battle between Governor Terry McAuliffe and Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety escalated today to include a full-page newspaper ad in the Richmond Times Dispatch.
The ad quotes several of the governor’s statements about the gun deal, declaring each one “false” and providing a detailed analysis to back up that conclusion. Words that Everytown takes exception to are marked in red ink, as a teacher might when grading a test.

McAuliffe dismissed the criticism during an appearance in Northern Virginia, saying “everybody supports [the gun deal] except one gun-safety group out of New York City.”
McAuliffe's response about support among gun ban groups doesn't square with what other groups told the Post.
“I’m so angry at the governor for his comments,” said Jennifer Herrera, the volunteer leader of the state’s Moms affiliate. “We are Virginians and we are the people doing the work. So to hear him repeat this line that it’s this outside group — we have met you. You’ve stood with our survivors. You’ve been at our events.”
It could be a long second half of the General Assembly as it approaches the halfway mark on February 16th.  The group seems intent on making McAuliffe's life miserable.

Update: The Richmond Times Dispatch has a much stronger article that was posted on its web site Tuesday evening that points out the Everytown exagerations of McAuliffe's statements used in the ad.

Webert's HB1163 Greatly Improves Reciprocity Agreement Overturning Herring Action

Last Friday, VSSA posted on Twitter that the legislative team had serious concerns about changes to the bills (SB610 and HB 1163) that are the vehicles for overturning Attorney General Herring's unilateral action on recognition of out of state permits:

The specific language stated:
That within 60 days of the effective date of this act, the Attorney General shall enter into agreements for reciprocal recognition of concealed handgun permits or licenses with states where such agreements were in existence as of December 1, 2015, as required by the provisions of this act; otherwise the provisions of this act shall not become effective.
Also on Friday, HB1163 was amended in committee to mirror SB610 with the bad changes at the end of the bill. The VSSA legislative team went to work on Friday working with patrons and alerting friends to the problems in Friday's changes.  This work continued into Monday.

 Today, a floor substitute to HB1163 was offered by the patron and was agreed to on the floor and engrossed setting up final passage tomorrow.  The floor substitute removes the enactment clause that was added on Friday and makes the State Police the entity to enter into reciprocity/recognition agreements and the Attorney General will only be involved if another state requires the signature of that office on the agreement.

VSSA will continue to monitor these bills as they continue to move through the process.  The House will likely amend SB610 to mirror HB1163.  The Senate will then have to agree to the changes.

Update:  The enactment clause was also in HB1391, the vehicle for the protective orders part of the McAuliffe deal and HB1386, the bill for the voluntary background check portion of the deal.  It appears to be someone's way to make sure the Governor did not go back on his word.  Unfortunately, while the enactment clause could have been appropriate in the case of the protective order and voluntary background check portions of the agreement, it would have completely destroyed the reciprocity part of the agreement.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Washington Post: McAuliffe Spokesman Lashes Out at Bloomberg Group

It appears Governor Terry McAuliffe is getting tired of getting beaten up by Bloomberg's gun ban group Everytown for Gun Safety.  This from the Washington Post:
Brian Coy spoke dismissively of Everytown for Gun Safety, which is associated with former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, as a “group from New York” that does not have the interests of Virginians at heart.

“One group from New York and its affiliates are upset, but that does not represent Virginia views on this,” Coy said. “We had no interaction with Everytown, the national folks, until after this deal became public. We wouldn’t have even known who to call.”
The Post reminded Coy that Bloomberg came through when McAuliffe wanted money to buy the Virginia Senate during last year's election but, according to the Post, Coy did not back down from his comments:
“He talked to Howard Wolfson. Wolfson’s a political adviser to Bloomberg,” Coy said.” I don’t think he’s a policy advocate from this group. We’ve never heard from anybody at the staff level until now, after the deal has been finalized.”
The Post noted that Coy's comments were made to the Post two days after Everytown unleashed a social media campaign against McAuliffe for agreeing to a deal with GOP leadership to overturn Attorney General Mark Herring's unilateral action to break concealed carry recognition agreements with 25 states.

For Everytown's part, they turned to Andy Parker, a gun ban advocate whose daughter was killed on live TV by a disgruntled former colleague in August, to counter Coy:
“Governor McAuliffe can’t have it both ways,” Parker said. “He stood side-by-side with me and other Virginia survivors from the Everytown Survivor Network and worked closely with Everytown on the Whatever It Takes rally at the U.S. Capitol in September. I am his constituent and friend — I would have happily taken his call and pointed him to the right policy experts before he struck this dangerous deal with the gun lobby.”
Everytown also released emails to show just how much McAuliffe's office and the group had been in contact over 18 months.

McAuliffe's office also claimed they let Lori Haas, a Virginia gun ban advocate whose daughter was injured during the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007 was made aware of the deal, a claim that Haas disputes.  She told the Post that she was only made aware of it less than 48 hours before the Post broke the story.

This just shows that McAuliffe is not above throwing all of his friends under the bus if he thinks it benefits him.  If he is willing to do this to his friends, we should remember he can still do worse to us if it suits his agenda.

Hat tip to the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

VSSA Legislative Update

With a number of the bad gun bills disposed up last week, the VSSA lobbying team has been watching as some good bills have made it to the floor of the House and Senate.  The following bills have passed the House and the Senate:

HB 51 - Purchase of weapons other than handguns by certain officers. Allows officers of certain agencies to purchase, at a fair market price and with approval of the agency head, weapons other than handguns that are issued for personal use of an officer so long as the weapon is a type and configuration that can be purchased at a regular hardware or sporting goods store by a private citizen without restrictions other than the instant background check. Current law allows this type of purchase only for the Department of State Police.

HB206 - Transfer of certain firearms; identification requirement. Allows Virginia residents to purchase a firearm by presenting only one photo-identification form issued by a governmental agency of the Commonwealth or by the U.S. Department of Defense that demonstrates that the prospective purchaser resides in Virginia. The bill provides that a member of the armed forces whose photo identification issued by the Department of Defense does not have a Virginia address may establish his Virginia residency with such photo identification and permanent orders assigning the purchaser to a duty post, including the Pentagon, in Virginia. Current law requires photo identification and another document that establishes residency, such as a lease or utility bill, and that includes an address that matches the photo identification.

HB 332 - Concealed handgun permit; judges exempt. Provides that a judge or retired judge of the Commonwealth may carry a concealed handgun throughout the Commonwealth without a permit.

HB766 - Carrying concealed handguns; protective orders. Authorizes any person 21 years of age or older who is not prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or transporting a firearm and is protected by an unexpired protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the protective order was issued. The bill provides that if the person issued the protective order applies for a concealed handgun permit during such 45-day period, such person will be authorized to carry a concealed handgun for an additional 45 days and be given a copy of the certified application, which shall serve as a de facto concealed handgun permit. The bill requires such person to have the order or certified application and photo identification on his person when carrying a concealed handgun and to display them upon demand by a law-enforcement officer; failure to do so is punishable by a $25 civil penalty.

HB810 - Transfer of assault weapon; proof of citizenship. Makes consistent the type of identification and other documentation that a purchaser of a firearm must present when purchasing any type of firearm from a licensed dealer by removing the additional requirement for the purchase of an assault weapon that a person who purchases such a weapon must present proof of citizenship. The bill does not alter the provisions prohibiting the sale of assault firearms to noncitizens who have not been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

HB1281 - Carrying concealed weapons; exception for certain retired officers. Decreases from 15 to 10 the number of years of service required for certain retired officers to be exempt from the prohibition on carrying a concealed weapon.

Bills that have passed the State Senate are:

SB175 - Concealed handgun permits; sharing of information. Provides that information on concealed handgun permittees in the Virginia Criminal Information Network shall not be shared with law enforcement in states that do not have reciprocity agreements with Virginia for the carrying of concealed handguns.

SB198 - Carrying concealed weapons; exceptions. Adds any employee with internal investigations authority designated by the Department of Corrections pursuant to subdivision 11 of § 53.1-10 retired from the Department of Corrections to listed individuals who may carry a concealed handgun, provided that he carries written proof of the need to carry.

SB205 - Purchase of handguns by certain officers. Adds employees of the Department of Corrections with internal investigations authority to the list of retired law-enforcement officers who may purchase their service handguns for $1.00.

SB544 - Concealed handgun permit; judges exempt. Provides that a judge or retired judge of the Commonwealth may carry a concealed handgun throughout the Commonwealth without a permit.

SB608 - Confiscation, reporting, and return of firearms by law enforcement. Replaces current requirements that law-enforcement agencies report information regarding confiscated firearms to the Department of State Police with a requirement that information be reported to a firearms tracing system maintained by the U.S. Department of Justice. The bill requires 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.

SB615 - Purchase of weapons other than handguns by certain officers. Allows officers of certain agencies to purchase, at a fair market price and with approval of the agency head, weapons other than handguns that are issued for personal use of an officer so long as the weapon is a type and configuration that can be purchased at a regular hardware or sporting goods store by a private citizen without restrictions other than the instant background check. Current law allows this type of purchase only for the Department of State Police.

The VSSA lobbying team is watching very closely SB610, Senator Reeves' bill to restore and expand concealed carry reciprocity/recognition.  The patron has asked that the bill be passed by for the day several times.  It will again be up for final passage today. (Update: SB610 Passed the Senate on Thursday on a vote of 27-13.)

There will not be a meeting of the Militia Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 today.  There are several bills of interest to gun owners on Friday's Militia Police and Public Safety's full committee docket.  Be sure to check the VSSA web site and blog for the most up-to-date legislative information.

Washington Post: Bloomberg's New Target - Terry McAuliffe

The Washington Post reports this morning that Bloomberg's Everytown for Gun Safety has turned its fire on Governor Terry McAuliffe via social Media:
On Wednesday, Everytown launched a social media campaign against McAuliffe, who last week stunned gun-safety advocates by announcing that he had struck a gun deal with Republican legislators and the National Rifle Association. It shows side-by-side photos of McAuliffe and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre.

“What do VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe and NRA head Wayne LaPierre have in common?” one version reads. “Both Gov McAuliffe and NRA Head Wayne LaPierre support allowing dangerous people to carry hidden loaded weapons in Virginia.”

While clearly a lower-budget affair than last fall’s TV blitz, Everytown’s social media campaign against McAuliffe was a stunner, given how closely he worked with gun-safety groups since his 2013 campaign for governor. He narrowly won the race while bragging about his “F” rating from the NRA.
McAuliffe's office says he stands by the deal that was announced on Friday and during his radio blitz on Monday, McAuliffe said that his job is to keep Virginia safe and gun ban groups who are against the deal are more interested in pushing a national agenda.

This Post article also infers not only did McAuliffe throw Attorney General Mark Herring under the bus, he did the same to the gun ban lobby:
The deal that the McAuliffe administration hammered out with GOP legislative leaders and the NRA caught gun-safety groups off guard. In December, Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) had severed reciprocity rights of gun owners in 25 states with concealed-weapons standards looser than Virginia’s — a move that had infuriated gun-rights activists even though state law has long dictated that reciprocity be limited to states with standards on par with Virginia’s.

The McAuliffe deal, which still needs General Assembly approval, reversed Herring’s action — and then some, directing him to strike reciprocity deals with every state that offers them. In that sense, the deal expands gun rights.
VSSA noted on its Twitter feed last Friday that McAuliffe's comments during the official announcement of the deal sounded like he was adding it to his resume for Vice President for his buddy Hillary Clinton:
The Post notes he also touted the deal with asked how he thought Clinton's gun control would play in New Hamshire:
Matthews asked McAuliffe, a close friend of Clinton’s and chairman of her failed 2008 bid, how the former secretary of state’s strong gun-control rhetoric might play in a rural state like New Hampshire. McAuliffe answered by touting the “historic agreement” he had just struck on guns.

“If you can do it Virginia, which is the home of the NRA, working together, we can do this anywhere,” he said. “People want, folks, they want their legislators to come together, to work with their governors to make them safe.”
Wonder how Bloomberg likes those bus tire tracks across his back.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Virginian Pilot Op/Ed Nails It on McAuliffe Deal With GOP on Out-of-State Carry Permits

Kerry Dougherty has this Op/Ed in the Virginian Pilot on Governor Terry McAuliffe's deal with the GOP to restore concealed carry permit reciprocity/recognition with 25 states and she absolutely nails why this is such a big deal:
The agreement was a victory for common-sense supporters of the Second Amendment in Virginia and a blow for those who merely look for ways to nibble away at gun rights under the guise of “safety,” when it’s clear that safety has little to do with their motivation.

Case in point: Days before Christmas, Attorney General Mark Herring announced that Virginia was terminating concealed- carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states that had laws he believed were less strict than the commonwealth’s.

The heavy-handed move was ill-advised and unnecessarily provocative. Worse, it reeked of politics.

Herring’s office was unable to point to a single bad act committed by a person in possession of an out-of-state concealed- carry permit. Yet, by terminating reciprocity with more than two dozen states, many visitors to Virginia were slated to automatically lose their rights to carry weapons here, and many Virginians faced the possibility of losing their rights to carry firearms in other jurisdictions.

As I said at the time, Herring appeared to be acting unilaterally to protect the commonwealth from marauding Minnesotans and Montanans.
Her opinion piece is a stark contrast to the editorial the Pilot posted after the deal was announced where the Pilot said the governor "folded."

Dougherty is one of the few voices of reason that write for the Pilot.  She was right this time too.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

McAuliffe Continues to Walk Fine Line Regarding Herring and Out-of-State Permit Deal

In the Richmond Times Dispatch story on the defeat of Constitutional Carry, the reporter circled back to the deal on overturning Attorney General Mark Herring's attack on out-of-state concealed carry permits.  The RTD noted that McAuliffe appeared on a radio station Monday continued his praise for Herring "getting everyone to the table" he admitted there was no evidence that people with out of state permits had committed crimes in Virginia:
In a media blitz Monday morning that included three radio appearances and one TV spot, McAuliffe walked a fine line that alternated between praise for Herring and defending the rationale of reversing an action that Herring had said would make Virginians safer.

“I appreciate the work the attorney general did on this. It got us to the table,” McAuliffe said in an interview with conservative radio host John Fredericks. “But we have no record of anyone in the last 25 years being injured or hurt with someone who came into our state with a concealed weapon.”

The governor’s remarks echo critiques leveled at Herring’s decision by pro-gun activists, who question the need to tighten out-of-state permits if the state could not produce statistics showing a problem.

McAuliffe contrasted the lack of crimes involving concealed carry permits with statistics on other elements of the deal. The compromise would require state police to be present at every gun show to perform background checks for unlicensed sellers and force anyone under a permanent restraining order for domestic violence to give up their guns or face a felony conviction that would mean losing gun rights altogether.

Four people were killed last year after taking out a protective order, McAuliffe said, and state police were present at 42 of 77 gun shows.
This blog reported yesterday via "The Trace" that the deal was in the works for a week before Herring was clued in.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Constitutional Carry Defeated in State Senate

Senate Bill 48, Constitutional Carry was defeated shortly after the State Senate started taking up legislation for the day.  Republican Senator. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. voted with all 19 Democrats (including the usually pro-rights John Edwards) to create a 20-20 tie.  The Lt. Governor voted no, breaking the tie to defeat the bill.

Gun Ban Lobby Urges Defeat of SB 610 - Vehicle to Restore Reciprocity/Recognition

Virginian's for Responsible Gun Laws sent out an email today urging their supporters to contact their state senators and urge them to vote again Senator Reeves' SB610, the Senate bill that is the vehicle to advance the deal to restore concealed carry permit reciprocity/recognition with 25 states.
It even makes reference to George Zimmerman to get their supporters to take action:
The deal includes reversing Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision to end concealed carry reciprocity agreements with 25 states that fail to meet Virginia’s standards.  In fact, it broadens reciprocity to all 49 states in the country.  This would allow individuals from other states with weak or relatively no requirements for carrying a concealed weapon to legally do the same in Virginia.  That means convicted stalkers and abusers, habitual drunks, those with severe mental illness, and other dangerous individuals could carry weapons in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

We don’t want the George Zimmermans of the world to be armed in our neighborhoods!  We want our Governor, who we elected to keep us safe, to stand up to the NRA and REJECT THIS BAD DEAL.
SB 610 should be up for a final vote on Tuesday, February 2nd.  Please make sure your State Senator knows you support passage of this bill.

Washington Post Suggests Herring Not Happy With McAuliffe Deal

This morning the Washington Post posted this article on their web site titled "Five Things That (kid of) Explain McAuliffe's gun deal with Republicans."  To some extent, it continues the meme that McAuliffe has crafted that he got real concessions in return for overturning Herring's actions on out-of-state concealed carry permits.  A Post article Friday pretty much showed how hollow that claim is, describing how the deal almost fell through Friday morning when Delegate Todd Gilbert told a local Richmond morning show host that, given the deal that was detailed in the Post Thursday afternoon, he would take it any day.  According to the Post, any public comment was supposed to express that all sides gave and got something.  For Gilbert's transgression, the GOP had to agree to make possession of a firearm while a permanent protective order is in place a felony instead of a misdemeanor.  Even with that change, gun owners came out much better than the gun ban side.

Today's article goes on to explain why pro-rights activists are much happier about the deal than the gun ban lobby:
Does this deal expand gun rights?
Yes. The deal goes beyond restoring the reciprocity rights that Herring had planned to revoke, directing him to strike reciprocity deals with every state that offers them. If the legislature approves the deal, more out-of-state gun owners will be allowed to carry concealed weapons in Virginia, and Virginians will be able to carry concealed weapons in other parts of the country.

Does it also tighten restrictions on guns?
Yes, but in a more nuanced way.

The deal would make it a felony under Virginia law for someone subject to a two-year protective order to possess a gun. Possession for such a person is already illegal under federal law. But because local police, not federal agents, respond to domestic incidents, abusers could be more likely to face charges. And because possession in such cases would be a felony, anyone convicted would lose the right to possess a firearm for life, barring subsequent restoration of civil rights through the governor.

The deal also calls for putting a state trooper at every gun show to run background checks for private sellers who currently have no way to check buyers’ criminal histories. But those checks would remain optional.
Then the Post gets to the question of where is Attorney General Herring in all of this?
It’s unclear, but he hardly seems happy about it.

The governor’s office was working on the deal to undo one of Herring’s biggest achievements for at least a week before it let him know what was in the works. Herring has not taken a public position on the deal and was notably absent from a news conference Friday, when McAuliffe and GOP leaders rolled out the deal. Herring’s spokesman said he had a prior commitment.

McAuliffe and his team have artfully credited Herring for bringing everyone to the table — suggesting that by yanking reciprocity, Herring so freaked out the gun-rights folks that they were willing to make a deal. But Herring’s absence on this has been conspicuous, particularly at Friday’s event, when McAuliffe asked the crowd to give the absent AG a round of applause. Awkward!
For all the talk by McAuliffe and Herring's spokesman, it is clear Herring was thrown under the bus.  And, it appears from the Post article, he is not at all happy about it.

Update: Even Bloomberg's anti-gun mouthpiece The Trace notes today the deal was "in the works for a week before Herring was clued in."

Sunday, January 31, 2016

No Wonder the Gun Ban Lobby is Upset by McAuliffe's Concealed Carry Deal With GOP

Late Friday afternoon, the Governor's office emailed out the press release detailing the specifics of the deal reached to restore recognition of concealed carry permits for 25 states that had been listed by

The deal encompasses the following bills:

Voluntary Background Checks at Firearms Shows: Delegate Lingamfelter (HB1386) and Senator Edwards (SB715)
  • Currently, only firearms dealers with a federal firearms license (FFL) can access the National Instant Checks System (NICS) to perform background checks on firearms purchases/transfers.
  • The Virginia State Police cannot access the system on behalf of private citizens selling or transferring firearms.
  • This bill would give the Virginia State Police statutory authority to perform background checks on behalf of private citizens at firearms shows, which is required by the FBI. 
  • Private sellers feel it is their civic duty to obtain the results of a background check prior to selling or transferring a firearm and they currently do not have the ability to access background checks for this purpose.  This would allow them access on voluntary cases.
  • This bill requires the Virginia State Police to be present at every firearms show in the Commonwealth to perform background checks on a voluntary basis.
This bill had already cleared Senate Courts of Justice on Thursday night and rereferred to Finance as it has a fiscal impact. Delegate Lingamfelter's bill is currently awaiting action in the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee

Protective orders: Delegate Murphy and Senator Howell (SB49)
  • Currently, a person subject to a protective order is prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, but not from possessing a firearm.
  • This bill would prohibit a person subject to a permanent protective order from possessing a firearm for the duration of the order. 
  • Permanent protective orders are issued by a judge and are served to the subject.  They can last up to 2 years and can be extended by the judge as necessary.
  • This bill allows the subject of the protective order 24 hours to transfer or sell the firearm to a non-prohibited person.  The subject of the protective order may possess or transport the firearm during that 24-hour period only for the purposes of selling or transferring the firearm.
  • If a person violates this section, they could be guilty of a class 6 felony.
Senator Howell's bill is still awaiting action in Senate Courts of Justice

Reciprocity: Delegate Webert (HB1163) and Senator Reeves (SB610)
  • Reciprocity for all states with a concealed carry permitting process.
  • Prevents state-shopping. If a person has ever been revoked in Virginia, they cannot go to another state to get a permit and have that permit be recognized in Virginia.
  • Retains the 24-hour verification clause for law enforcement purposes which allows the VSP or other law enforcement agencies to verify the validity of a permit for an out-of-state person 24 hours a day when states that offer that process.  Permit-holders must carry another valid state-issued ID for the purpose of verification.
  • Governor McAuliffe will also extend the effective date for the planned implementation of the revocation of reciprocity agreements with other states to March 1st.
SB 610 is now before the full Senate and will be on final passage on Tuesday.  HB1163 has been heard by the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Subcommittee #1 and the subcommittee recommended reporting the bill.  It now awaits action by the full committee.

The reciprocity portion of this deal is the most important part.  This isn't just undoing Herring's action of unrecognizing the permits of 25 states, this is expanded recognition.   Delegate Webert was on Friday's NRANews' Cam and Company and explained how this will work.
It should be noted that none of this is a completely done deal until the bills pass and are signed into law by the Governor.  VSSA was in consultation with one of the negotiating legislators before the deal was announced and the legislative team will continue to monitor developments.  For now however, not withstanding reports to the contrary from the media, gun owners came out on the better end of this deal.  Background checks are not "expanded" the way McAuliffe and the gun ban lobby would like.   They are simply voluntary.  He can spin this any way he wants but he backed down on reciprocity/recognition of out-of-state concealed carry permits and got little in return, which is why gun ban advocate Andy Parker and Everytown for Gun Safety are so upset with McAuliffe.