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Thread: Let's put some pressure on DGIF for OC

  1. #1
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    We need the board to know what we think about defensive sidearm open-carry in National Forests, State Parks, and other DGIF-administered land. Currently, only CC w/permit is allowed.

    However...This is confusing; it says that the public comment period has ended for this meeting, but then it says it will "solicit and hear coments form the public". For the next meeting cycle,perhaps? I am going to contact the Board Secretary tomorrow and ask what the deal is.

    http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/meetings/
    Tuesday, July 17, 2007


    9:00 AM
    4000 W Broad St
    Richmond, VA 23230

    Board of Game and Inland Fisheries

    The Board of Game and Inland Fisheries will meet and intends to propose amendments to regulations governing hunting, trapping, game wildlife, wildlife diversity, fishing, fisheries resources, and boating. This is a periodic review and amendment process for these regulations, with the resulting amended regulations intended to become effective in 2008. A public discussion period on preliminary recommendations for regulations opened April 10 and closed June 15, 2007. At the July 17 meeting, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' staff will present recommendations for regulatory amendments, the Board will solicit and hear comments from the public, and the Board then intends to propose regulations or regulation amendments. Any proposed regulatory actions will be published in the Virginia Register of Regulations, posted on the internet at http://www.dgif.virginia.gov, and summaries advertised in newspapers. A public comment period on any proposed regulations begins July 24 and closes September 24, 2007. Adoption of any regulations or regulation amendments as final will take place at the Board meeting to be held October 16, 2007. The Board is exempted from the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4002 of the Code of Virginia) in promulgating wildlife management regulations, including the length of seasons, bag limits and methods of take set on the wildlife resources within the Commonwealth of Virginia; the Board promulgates boating regulations under the authority of § 29.1-701(E) of the Code of Virginia; and publishes all proposed and final regulations as required by § 2.2-4031. The Board will also hear staff?s recommendation on a process for addressing the issue of hunting with hounds in Virginia. Staff intends to recommend working with affected stakeholders in 2007 and 2008 with the process resulting in recommended strategies prior to the 2009 legislative session. The Board will receive staff's recommendations for webless migratory game bird and September waterfowl seasons and bag limits based on frameworks provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, solicit and hear comments from the public, and then adopt 2007-2008 seasons and bag limits for those species. The Board will also receive public comments on non-agenda items, may discuss general and administrative issues, and may hold a closed session at some time during the meeting. For more information, please contact Board Secretary Beth Drewery at (804) 367-9149 or by email at beth.drewery@dgif.virginia.gov.

  2. #2
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    Indiana has temporarly lifted a lengthy gun ban in State Parks, it is up for permanent adoption sometime in September I believe.

    I hope you guys get the same done in VA.

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    Sucks that it's a Tuesday and it's 2 hours away. : (
    -Unrequited

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    Um..... I might be able to make that.

    I'm not really a park goer, but I might be able to make a show of face...
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    I sent an email to Board Secretary Beth Drewery today to get clarification on public speaking at this meeting. According to the agenda, there is a time set aside for the public to speak on "non-agenda" items. If possible, I would like the board to consider changing its anti-OC regulation language to allow OC for defensive purposes with or without a valid hunting license.

    Since this is on a Tuesday morning, I understand if not many people can make it, but I have some vacation days and will try to secure this day off from work to make the trip.

    This is one avenue of approach to this objective; the other is by getting the legislature to pre-empt DGIF's authority to ban OC. That has to wait for the next session, if ever. Meanwhile, we can work on this front.

    Mike S., I recall you said VCDL was working on this problem before; any info or coordination would be of help.

    I'll let you guys know what answer I get back from Mz. Drewery.

    Now, to think of how to make my boss give me that day off...

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    Regular Member doug23838's Avatar
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    Tomahawk wrote:
    We need the board to know what we think about defensive sidearm open-carry in National Forests, State Parks, and other DGIF-administered land. Currently, only CC w/permit is allowed.
    I had a recent, friendly encounter with 3 DGIF employees (one of them a Game Warden) on DGIF property while I was OC. Not a word was exchanged about my plainly visible firearm. I was not in a State Park ( where I know I must CC), but instead on a wildlife management area. The text of the "Firearms" rules doesn't explicitly say you must CC but that you must have a CHP. Confusing at the least.
    Here's the text:

    It is unlawful to have in possession or in a vehicle a bow or

    gun which is not unloaded and cased or dismantled except

    when it is lawful to take bear, deer, grouse, pheasants, quail,

    rabbit, raccoon, squirrel or turkey; and additionally, migratory

    game birds on Department owned lands east of the Blue

    Ridge; or by permit issued by the Department; or by concealed

    handgun permit issued by a Circuit Court.
    http://www.dgif.state.va.us/hunting/...s/wmarules.pdf
    Now the way I read that: You must have a CHP. But it doesn't say ( as the state parks do) that you MUST carry concealed. The 2 DGIF workers said nothing about it, and the Game Warden didn't either. I spoke with all three. I was there shooting and the range was closed and they asked me to leave. I did.

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    Welcome to the forum Doug!


    Here is the Administrative code that prohibits carry of loaded weapons unless you are either engaged in an authorized hunting or sporting activity, or unless you carrying concealed with a permit:



    http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+4VAC15-40-60


    At the bottom of that text is the citation for the statutory authority behind the regulation:

    §§29.1-501 and 29.1-502 of the Code of Virginia

    Paragraph A of 29.1-501 reads:

    "A. The Board may promulgate regulations pertaining to the hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, purchase and transportation of any wild bird, wild animal, or inland water fish."

    [size=2][font=verdana][size=2][font=verdana][font="Courier New"][size=2][font="Courier New"]I don't see anything in there that gives DGIF the authority to regulate firearms, except for the purposes of hunting. So the regulation may be null on that point, but we need to change it anyway to reduce confusion and protect the right to bear for self defense. Until then, you may be in a grey area OC'ing on DGIF land.

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    BTW, folks, I left a phone message and emailed the secretary of the board and she hasn't called me back, yet.


    I'll keep trying next week.


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    Update! I heard back from the DGIF board office. It looks like we're good to go to just show up the day of the meeting and sign in to speak:


    Dear Mr. [Tomahawk]:


    ...the various comment opportunities are multiple stages of an extended process during 2007 for a single set of regulation changes to take effect in 2008. Please see a short version of the process here: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/regulations/comment/
    And the full version here: http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/regulations/regulation-review-process.pdf
    These postings had more visibility on our agency home page until June 15, and will again soon. There are multiple opportunities and channels for submitting your views during the March - October process, we solicit those views, but naturally the earlier in the process the better for their prospects.

    A public discussion period on preliminary recommendations did run April 10 - June 15 and is now closed, but public comment on regulations opens back up again at the July 17 Board meeting, for the Board meeting. After hearing from staff and the public at the meeing regarding regulations,the Board is expected to propose regulations. We will post the Board's proposalsone week later for a public comment period on them that runs July 24 - Sep 24, at which time comment will close again until the "final action" Board meeting of October 16. The last opportunity to address the Board in the 2007 regulation review procsswill be at that meeting before they vote.

    On July 17 itself the public will have at least three chances to address the boardn non-agenda items; on regulatory matters; and on migratory bird seasons and bag limits.

    You do not need to reserve an opportunity to speak ahead of time. As you enter the Board meeting you will be asked to sign up at that time if you do wish to speak. This is merely a convenience for the Board, however, and a citizenmay decline to signup as you come in, but still speak once in the meeting.

    I hope this has answered your questions.


    Phil Smith

    Policy Analyst, Regulatory Coordinator, and Freedom of Information Officer

    Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

    4016 West Broad Street, Richmond VA 23230
    I'm putting together some talking points for us to work on, and I'll post back with another update.

    T-8 days!

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    Mods, can this be stickied until July 17 so it doesn't get buried?

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    Preemption covers counties, cities, and other localities. It does not preempt VA state or state agencies.

    That is how the get away with it. A while back, I did some searching and found previous discussion on the subject. If you search the forum, I might have provided links. Going over those would give you and idea of what is happening and what the antis are going to argue.

    If you cannot find it, let me know, and I will try to find it again and post here.

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    Here is the link to the meeting notes: http://legis.state.va.us/codecomm/register/vol19/iss15/v19i15.pdf

    You can probably find more with searching.

    Here is the forum it was posted in: http://opencarry.mywowbb.com/forum54/266.html

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    Thanks, possumboy! This will be a great help in planning our arguments. Starting on page 17 of possumboy's link, folks, is an example fo what we can expect to go up against. Start thinking now about how to nuke these anti-OC arguments!

    EDIT: I tried to post the text here, but this stupid forum places it all with two blank lines in between, making the post like 5 pages long.

    Please check possumboy's link, page 17!

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    I'll do my part to help prepare counter arguments. Some of the "anti-" argument seems irrevelant to me. As in: "84% of other states don't permit open carry" Relevance? That's a "nobody else is doing it...why should we?" argument.

    The "school field trip" prohibition is BS also. School field trips routinely go to Museums...state owned museums.

    I'll try and pull something more cohesive this week.

    Also: found this by the "anti" crowd: http://www.virginiaparks.org/firearmsinstateparks.html

    .. "touch the monkey" .. love that.



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    doug23838 wrote:
    Also: found this by the "anti" crowd: http://www.virginiaparks.org/firearmsinstateparks.html

    .. "touch the monkey" .. love that.


    OH, I hate that argument. "Your chances of being a victim are so low..."

    The last person that told me that, I asked for their phone number and directions to their house. When asked why? I told them, if the wanted to be the low percentage they were more than welcome. A low percentage means it happens to someone. If they want their spouse, daughters, sons, and themselvesraped, robbed, molested, or murder, then I would be more than happy to send any criminal to their doorstep. As for me, I don't plan on being the odd man out here. My protection is not dependant upon numbers. It is dependant upon me. I don't play the odds, I stack them in my favor.

    Lets read it a little more. Most of the accidents with firearms are by criminals, many which under law cannot possess a firearm - read in a John Lott Jr book. Will try to find reference.

    Most criminal use guns while committing a crime? Hello, if they are going to commit a criminal any, do think they will leave the gun at the gate? I don't thinks so.

    Of course, wording should be less aggressive, but you get the idea.


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    Okay, folks, I've ut together a list of talking points. First are my respopnses to the reasons given by the board for rejecting a petition to lift the prohibition on OC in 4 VAC 5-30-200 back in 2003:

    1. The Department stated in 2003 that firearms restrictions have been part of the Virginia Administrative Code “since at least 1965” and probably earlier. However, the statutory authority cited for this VAC appears to give DGIF authority only over hunting and other recreational activities; it does not specify authority for regulating the bearing of firearms or other weapons for defensive purposes. Tradition is not an excuse for overstepping authority.



    VAC: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+reg+4VAC15-40-60



    Cited authority VA Code: [size=§ 29.1-501. Promulgation of regulations; publication of proposed regulations or change therein; validation; evidentiary nature of publication. ]


    [size=A. The Board may promulgate regulations pertaining to the hunting, taking, capture, killing, possession, sale, purchase and transportation of any wild bird, wild animal, or inland water fish.]





    2. The Board used felony incident statistics to make the argument that State Parks are safe. However, no matter how low the crime rate is, there remain a small number of people who become victims. Certainly those people have the right to self-defense. Low statistics only sound good if you personally are not one of those statistics.



    In addition, there is the implication that the burden of proof lies with the victims and other park users to prove they need the right to carry for self-defense. This is an inversion of good governance; the burden should be on DGIF to prove that some circumstance exists which justifies disabling the right to carry open or concealed for self-defense. No such justification has been given.



    3. DGIF used a survey of firearms regulations issued by other state park systems around the nation to aid in decision-making. The conclusion was that, since 42 states prohibit open carry of firearms for defensive purposes, that prohibition is an acceptable practice. However, no mention is made of why it was not an acceptable practice in the other 8 states. Absent some sort of data showing that open carry causes major problems in those, there is no reason to prohibit the practice in Virginia. In addition, open carry of firearms is prohibited in only a very few number of public places in Virginia, including restaurants and other family-oriented places, and has not caused a problem. Certainly openly carrying in a State Park or a National Forest is no riskier.



    4. The board noted that carrying of weapons for defensive purposes in National Park System areas is prohibited. The implication here is that the Board “wants Virginians to know Virginians are lucky the Board doesn’t just ban them all”. Aside from this attitude toward your own citizens, and indeed, toward the spirit of the General Assembly’s liberal views on bearing arms, the Board failed to note that National Parks are hardly crime free, as any internet search will quickly show. In addition, it must be noted that users of National Parks have an inherent right to self-defense which is being denied, a practice DGIF should not find worth emulating.
    [/size]

    Next, my responses to the arguments against OC made by anti-gun people:
    Against Open Carry


    Respondents against open carry stated the following:



    - They would fear for their safety and the safety of others and would stop visiting the parks if OC was allowed.



    Since OC is lawful on public city streets and has not caused a decrease in public activities such as shopping or dining, there is no evidence that this would be the case.[/i]



    - Some noted that the children of Virginia should be able to play without fear of gunfire.



    Since there is no evidence that open-carry of firearms results in any increase in gunfire, this is not an issue. In addition, the parents of Virginia’s children have the right to defend those children as well as themselves while using State Parks and National Forests, just as they do on other public property.[/i]



    - Responses noted that open carrying of firearms fails to consider the effects of on groups or organizations which look to Virginia State Parks as a safe haven.



    There is no evidence that OC makes a park less safe. The fear is unfounded. If a group is truly opposed to guns, they should secure a private venue in which they can ban whatever they want, whether it’s guns or red T-shirts.[/i]

    [/i]

    -Groups mentioned school regulations that prohibit field trips to locations where open carry of firearms is allowed.



    The choices of groups to write their regulations in such a restrictive manner has no bearing on the rights of citizens in a public place, nor should it drive the Board’s decisions on regulation. A school could place all sorts of ridiculous restrictions on field trips; it is not the citizens’ duty to dance to their tune.[/i]



    - Groups stated that regulations were designed for the general welfare, not to the self-preservation of the individual to the exclusion of public safety.



    Empowerment of individuals for self defense and self preservation is the first and highest duty of anyone entrusted with the public welfare. Denying the individual right to self-preservation is likewise counter to public safety.[/i]

    [/i]

    - Safety concerns were raised by individuals living adjacent to State Parks.



    These individuals have no reason to be concerned, as we are discussing the carry of firearms for defensive purposes on public land, not the discharge of weapons for sporting purposes. In addition, open carry is lawful on other public property adjacent to private property, and this situation is no different.[/i]



    - They stated that State Parks are no hot-beds of crime and do not cry out for extreme measures of self-defense.



    Open carry is not an extreme measure of self defense. It is common and practice throughout the Commonwealth.[/i]

    [/i]

    - Respondents stated it is impossible to distinguish a “law-abiding citizen” from a person with criminal intentions, thus carrying of guns causes fear.



    Any unknown person may be a potential criminal and may be carrying a concealed gun. At least open carry alerts you to the presence of an armed person. In any case, most people intent on armed criminal activity would not be inclined to openly carry. In addition, there is no evidence that OC induces mass panic.[/i]



    -Respondents felt that visitors should have complete confidence that they could enjoy State Parks without concern for gun violence.



    Visitors should be realistic and understand that there can be no such thing as a crime-free zone, even in the presence of police officers. Violent offenders do not obey laws and regulations, and it is impossible to prevent anyone from smuggling weapons into a park, or improvising a weapon, or using their own brute strength to commit a violent act.[/i]



    -Respondents noted that there are non-lethal ways of self-protection.



    The most effective device for defending oneself against a violent attack is a handgun. All “other ways” are inferior, especially against a gun-armed aggressor. It is irresponsible and dangerous to propagate the illusion that pepper spray or martial arts lessons will help a small lightweight crime victim defend him or herself against a large and strong aggressor who may have years of experience in street-fighting or other violent activities. More importantly, it is not for anyone else to dictate to a citizen which weapon they may choose to defend themselves. Bearing arms is a right, not a suggestion or a guideline.[/i]



    - Wildlife is not a major threat to visitors.



    Human criminals are also not usually a major threat to visitors. While absolutely true, it is also irrelevant to the unfortunate person who falls into the small percentage of attack victims. The prevalence of a threat or the lack thereof is not a basis for denying the right to bear arms for self defense.[/i][/size]
    Finally, I have a few pro-OC comments to make, which I'm still mulling over. I haven't heard much enthusiasm about this, but I hope a couple of you guys will show, otherwise I'll be on my own tomorrow morning. If anyone shows, I will have some copies of these points and we can decide which ones to hammer the hardest and split them up to cover more ground. I don't imagine we'll get more than a few minutes each to speak, so let's make the most of it. PM me if you think you can make it.

    Tuesday, July 17, 2007
    9:00 AM
    4000 W Broad St
    Richmond, VA 23230



  17. #17
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    Tomahawk, I know we discussed this over the weekend. I sure wish I could be there with you.

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    Tomahawk-

    On the point about non-lethal defense. I don't have time to look this up, but many non=lethal methods are also illegal to carry. For example some of the tazers are illegal because they shoot a projectile. This list may go on. If I am correct, in this then logical point might be say -

    Many non-lethal methods are also regulated, and do not share the Constitution protections afforded to firearms ownership and carry. Firearms possession is also supported in the United States Constitution and should not be abridged on public lands that are designated to be shared by ALL citizens. The crime rate in Virginia Federal Parks has shown the prohibition of firearms, and reliance on non-lethal methods of defense have been totally ineffective in protecting park goers from violent crime, that includes rape and murder. Lawful carry of firearms in Virginia, has been demonstrated to be safe, and effective at reducing crime rates, and actually promotes safety.

    regards

    EDIT: Tomhawk, if you have any trouble getting leave, have your boss call me. I can certify that you warrant some SL.
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  19. #19
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    I may very well be able to join you tomorrow morning - we can carry there correct?

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    Good luck today! Some of my thoughts on the "anti" link...

    The article suggests that by allowing firearms in state parks, the state is taking on responsibility and risk if a person with a gun commits a crime of violence. It is equally true that by forbidding firearms, the state accepts the responsibility to protect all patrons, and could be liable if they prevented a person, who otherwise would have carried a firearm, from protecting him or herself. Personally, deep in the woods away from cell phones and 9-1-1 is where I want my gun the most!

    The article states,

    "Essentially, the Commonwealth must weigh the rights of those who do not wish to carry firearms, and who would be in forced proximity to persons who have firearms on public lands but are not law enforcement officers (officers are under greater scrutiny and accountability to the public for their actions)."

    It is debatable that officers are under greater accountability; in fact the accountability is probably less than that for a regular person.

    There seems to be a general attitude that people who want to carry a firearm for protection are untrained and careless: "Specifically, this means that injury, maiming and death occurs at higher frequencies because those carrying firearms may:



    1. Not keep their weapons in optimal operating condition, causing unanticipated discharges or backfires, injuring or killing the operator of the weapon;



    2. May not be properly educated as to the use of the weapon and all of its safety features;



    3. Be more likely to draw a weapon and discharge it if startled;"

    Incentive to be polished and polite when carrying...


    It seems to me that most of the rest of the arguments center around the burden of enforcing laws that criminals/poachers would ignore anyway. And the burden exists currently: no guns allowed at all.


    Let us know how it goes!

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    Crap, I can't get to Richmond in ten minutes.... :?
    Why open carry? Because 1911 > 911.

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    Well, I just got home from my little field trip to Richmond.

    The only members of this bunch who made it were me, VCDL President (PVC), and Renegade. Phillip and I both spoke briefly to the board, but we didn't have enough time to really hammer them with all the great arguments on the last two pages of this thread.

    I spoke mainly about their lack of statutory authority, wrongness in using other states as an example, and on the impossibility of CC while engaged in many outdoor activities, such as warm-weather hiking.

    PVC spoke to them about their general unfriendliness toward handguns, and asked them to open their ranges up to handguns and increase the seasons they are open or make them year-round.

    I wish we would have had 2 or 3 more people to speak, we could've covered a ton of ground with a series of short, concise comments, each on a different point.

    BTW, the main issue before the board concerned a change in regulations about hunting with dogs. For those of us who don't hunt, who cares, right? Both for those who DO hunt, man I'll tell you! I got there an hour and a quarter early, and the line was out the door already. They filled up the hearing room and two classrooms and people still had to stand in the hallway or sit on the floor. I was expecting like 5 people.

    I don't know what these guys all do for livings, but they somehow got fired up enough to jam pack this meeting on a Tuesday morning. There must have been way over a hundred people there, mostly men, but also manywomen and children.

    Now I realize, they were there to counter the threat of having something they love banned, we were just there to try to speak off the cuff about a non-agenda item that's been sticking in our craw for years. The hunters were organized through hunt clubs and shooting clubs, we had basically just this thread (which the mods didn't sticky).

    But still, 3 classrooms and a hallway full of hunters versus our 3 geeky dudes who just want to carry pistols. Guess who the board was busy listening to.

    I have been critical about hunters and sportsmen in the past who blow off self-defense-related gun issues, but those guys certainly take their cause seriously and show up in force.

    After the meeting, the 3 of us were standing outside and at least one fellow approached us and said he supported us. Almost a unicorn...but alas, he was CC'ing.

  23. #23
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    Thanks for representing us to the DGIF. You never know whose interest you may have piqued.

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