Pro-gun state legislators in Virginia may try to override the governor’s veto that blocked a bill that would have let active members of the military or those who received an honorable discharge from the U. S. Armed Forces or the Virginia National Guard to obtain a concealed handgun permit at age 18.
“Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed House Bill 1582 during the 2017 General Assembly Session. The General Assembly’s reconvened session is to be held on April 5, according to Virginia’s Legislative Information System. A reconvened session is held for the purpose of considering governor’s recommendations and vetoed legislation,” said U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Mitch Wells of Riley & Wells Attorneys-At-Law located in Richmond.
“Virginia law requires a concealed carry handgun permit holder to be 21 years of age. HB 1582 would have lowered that age requirement to age 18, but only for active members of the military or those who received an honorable discharge from the U. S. Armed Forces or the Virginia National Guard and who have also completed basic training as a part of military service,” Wells explained.
Del. Jeff Campbell, a Republican from Marion, had earlier called the measure a “military-friendly bill.”
“The basic human right to defend one’s self and their family must be protected by and free from interference from the government,” Campbell said in a statement on his website.
A Harrisonburg gun shop owner added that if an 18-year-old soldier is ordered to shoulder a weapon for the country, the same soldier ought to be trusted to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense.
“It seems ironic that they’d be allowed to do it for their country, yet not come home and do it for themselves,” shop owner Shane Farren told WHSV Channel 3 in Harrisonburg.
HB 1582 also would have extended reciprocity to nonresidents who have concealed handgun permits in other states.
The bill passed in the House by a vote of 78-19; it cleared the Senate on a 24-15 vote.
In a statement explaining his veto, Gov. McAuliffe said his opposition formed from consultations with military leadership, including retired Navy Admiral John Harvey, Virginia’s current Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs.
McAuliffe also noted that his concerns were “in no way a reflection of my respect and support for the brave young men and women who serve our nation in uniform.”
But, McAuliffe added, the bill “reflects an incomplete understanding of weapons qualification practices within our military and is an unwarranted expansion in the number of people allowed to carry handguns in the Commonwealth.”
“It would do nothing to protect the safety of our citizens,” the governor concluded. “Accordingly, I veto this bill.”
In a congratulatory letter to the General Assembly upon its adjournment, McAuliffe vowed to keep vetoing bills that “would make Virginia less safe” and “needlessly expand access to deadly weapons.”
A McAuliffe website asserts that even before the 2017 General Assembly, he had “led the national conversation on reducing senseless and preventable acts of gun violence.”
The website added that the August 2015 shootings of two journalists on live television at Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia hardened his resolve to “keep families safe.” —by Bill Miller, contributor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield blog
[editor’s note: The Virginia legislature convened April 3 for purposes of voting on whether or not to override the veto. The veto override failed in the house of delegates by one vote, according to U.S. Law Shield Independent Program Attorney Mitch Wells.]