by Andrew Goddard (Legislative Director, Virginia Center for Public Safety; President, Richmond and Hampton Roads Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence)
With the groundbreaking compromise deal worked out between Governor McAuliffe and the NRA, restoring the illegal agreements our state had with 25 of 30 states over reciprocal recognition of concealed carry permits, I am told that this has been a huge year for “gun rights” in Virginia. Looking at all of the 127 firearms-related bills that were shoveled into the General Assembly this session, I thought it would be interesting to highlight exactly which “gun rights” had been advanced and which had been infringed.
Starting with the shorter list, of the rights that were infringed, we have convicted domestic abusers under a permanent protective order. These people’s right to keep guns as protection against their abused victim(s) has now been infringed, apparently. In the future, abusers with such orders will have to dispose of their guns in some way that is not specified and prove to nobody in particular that they have done so. Don’t feel too worried if you are a domestic abuser, by the way; there are 10 kinds of protective orders in Virginia code, and this law only applies to one of them. So, if you’re a domestic abuser, just make sure you fall afoul of one of the other kinds, and you can still exercise your “right” to armed intimidation.
However, you might want to watch out, as GOP lawmakers – who were averse to disarming the assailants in domestic violence situations – were very keen to arm the victims. Bills were passed allowing previously unarmed, and probably untrained, victims to carry concealed handguns without a permit for 45 days, no doubt on the grounds that a shootout with their violent abuser would be highly preferable to taking away the gun rights of that abuser.
Other losers from this year’s General Assembly session are those individuals who supplement their income by buying and selling guns at gun shows without asking any questions of the buyers, and all without being “engaged in the business” of dealing in firearms. In the future, both they and their buyers will each have the option of continuing to exchange guns for cash at gun shows, without a background check, if either party feels that the few minutes of time that it takes to run a check would be too inconvenient to bear.
There were numerous examples of “gun rights” being enhanced in this year’s General Assembly session. Notably, there was Governor McAuliffe’s deal restoring the rights of non-Virginians – who would not be eligible to obtain a concealed carry permit in Virginia due to inconvenient lapses of character – to carry concealed handguns in Virginia. Not only does this deal with the NRA restore those “rights,” it also throws out the standards by which we recognize other state’s permits, opening the door to allowing miscreants from many additional states to carry their “precious” throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, the “rights” of Virginians – who themselves could not obtain a Virginia permit and who never tried or were denied – will be enhanced by their ability to apply for a permit from another state that is less persnickety about their particular violation, and use that to pack hidden heat in Virginia and elsewhere.
Notably, the “right” of very young children – the gun fetishists of tomorrow – have been preserved from attempts to keep their little fingers off the triggers of loaded guns. Bills that would have made any adult who allowed a child under 5 to play with a loaded gun and use friends or family as targets, responsible for the damage caused, were quickly dispatched. Now, all those junior militia members around the Commonwealth can play cops and robbers with real guns, and the only ones to pay a price will be the unfortunate folks who get in the way of the bullets.
As usual, a new crop of highly distinguished citizens from many walks of life was awarded the right to carry concealed handguns everywhere they go, without the need to obtain one of those pesky permits, solely by virtue of them being retired. I suppose that if we allow stalkers, alcoholics, domestic abusers and other fine folk from nearby states to carry concealed weapons in Virginia, our illustrious retirees will need those hidden guns for protection. But asking them to get a permit would be way too onerous.
One particular right that is not a “gun” right per say, but is definitely a “fire” arm right, was preserved by the defeat of a bill to outlaw civilian flame throwers. It seems that flamethrower manufacturers have been having a rough time in recent years, as militaries around the world have decided that the horrifying injuries that these fun tools cause are too inhumane for the purposes of warfare. One bright spark is that there has been a sudden flareup in the civilian market for flame throwers, which has caught the attention of legislators in a couple of states. Here in Virginia, we are a fire-friendly state, so an attempt to regulate the sale and use of civilian flamethrowers was quickly snuffed out. Next time you see your neighbor, spray a 50-foot-long jet of burning gasoline across your driveway, remember it is his “right” to deal with those unsightly dandelions any way he chooses.
The “rights” of people on the “no fly” terrorist watch list, to buy firearms and explosives, was again defended against all attacks. OK, so they still can’t fly on airplanes, but they can buy all the assault rifles and explosives they need to be bona fide terror suspects in the land of the free. I mean what could possibly go wrong – as long as they do all the planning on an IPhone?
National Guard members who wish to carry their own guns while carrying the guns they are given by the government will now have the option of which to shoot first.
Finally, all government employees in Virginia will regain their “rights” to have weapons in their parked cars, conveniently close by in case an unwarranted dismissal requires them exact recompense from their supervisors or colleagues. Also, all government buildings – especially those with magnetometers in each doorway and those with armed guards – will be restored to full security by allowing individuals who could be trained, could be mentally sound and are possibly stable to carry concealed firearms wherever they need to go.
So, it was indeed a great year for “gun rights” in Virginia, one that stands in contrast to all the previous years when gun rights were protected and enhanced and for the paltry price of a few hundred innocent lives each year. I am sure the Founding Fathers are contentedly looking down their musket sights from heaven and thinking that this is what they meant by a well-regulated militia!