Out of concern that their concealed-handgun permits could soon be invalid in other states, Virginia gun owners are rushing to get permits from an unexpectedly distant location: Utah.
"I wouldn't say a rush. I would say an avalanche," said James Reynolds, president of Proactive Shooters, a Richmond-area firearm instruction company that has added extra Utah-specific classes to keep up with the demand for the state's permits.
"If you have a concealed handgun permit in Virginia, nothing will change for you in Virginia," Herring said Wednesday in a radio interview on Washington's WAMU, echoing a line from his original announcement on Dec. 22.
That message doesn't seem to have taken hold among gun enthusiasts, who appear to be seeking out Utah permits out of fear that their home-state permits could lose validity elsewhere. Utah is also one of five states whose permits will still be recognized in Virginia after next month's changes.
Reynolds, who typically holds monthly classes for 50 students at a time at the Bass Pro Shops store in Ashland, said his January course for Utah permits sold out in 48 hours. He added a second class, which was fully booked within four days. His February and March classes, he said, are filling up fast.
"Literally every phone call is: 'I'm calling because of the attorney general's decision,' " Reynolds said.
In a note aimed at residents of states losing recognition in Virginia, the Virginia Citizens Defense League gun-activist group said Utah's permit now offers the most bang for the buck, due to Virginia permits having been "degraded."