Virginia Governor Vetoes Two Gun Bills

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe

 

On Thursday, March 24, 2016, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed House Bill 1096 that sought to reverse elements of his executive order that banned guns in executive branch office buildings.

McAuliffe also nixed House Bill 382 that would prevent most government agencies from prohibiting their employees from keeping firearms in their vehicles. State workers are currently barred from possessing a weapon not required for their job when they are on state premises or conducting state business. He said these bills would do away with what he called “common sense” gun restrictions in and around state office buildings.

“All Virginians, including state employees, have the right to feel safe and secure going about their daily lives. Regulations have been authorized to promote safety in public buildings, and prevention requires us to address areas of concern before they are realized,” McAuliffe said in his veto message.

“In addition, this legislation (HB 1096) exempts rules, regulations, policies, and administrative actions imposed by certain agencies and institutions of higher education from the requirements of the bill. Such special exemptions, while other state agencies must comply, infers to the state workforce a perception of inequity for their well-being.”

McAuliffe and Republican lawmakers reached a landmark deal on gun policy this year, but the GOP has remained critical of the executive order the governor signed last year.

McAuliffe says the Republican-backed bills would overturn important policies designed to thwart workplace violence or accidental injury.

“As governor, I am the chief personnel officer of the state workforce,” McAuliffe said in vetoing the measure. “I believe there is a need to establish and enforce workplace violence prevention policies that focus on employee safety and an atmosphere of workplace safety. An essential component of workplace violence prevention is the regulation of the possession, brandishing, or use of weapons on-site and during work-related activities. Our current state policy is aligned with and reinforces this best practice.”

Neither of the measures passed in the General Assembly with enough support to overturn the governor’s vetoes. Republicans do not have the votes to override the vetoes. An override requires two-thirds of the votes in each chamber. Democrats hold 19 of the 40 seats in the Senate.