VA-ALERT: Legislative Update & Action Items! 1-27-08

-----Original Message-----
From: Philip Van Cleave
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2008 3:08 PM
Subject: VA-ALERT: Legislative Update & Action Items! 1-27-08

2. Bills heard last Friday
3. Excellent write-up on guns in General Assembly
4. Roanoke Times has hissy fit and is attacking Senators Edwards and
Reynolds - time to defend them!


Monday there are two bills coming up the House Courts of Justice
Criminal subcommittee in the afternoon - one good and one bad - so we
must act NOW!

Delegate Jackson Miller's HB 436 needs to be OPPOSED. This bill
allows a police officer to arrest a person for any class 1 or class 2
misdemeanor *at will* instead of requiring the officer provide a
summons and only arrest under certain specific circumstances.
Vindictive police officers would have made sure that Chet Szymecki
spent the weekend in jail if this bill had been law in 2007.

Click on the link below to send a pre-written email to your Delegate:


Delegate Bill Janis' s HB 710 needs to be SUPPORTED. This bill is a
"castle doctrine" bill that relieves a person of civil liability if he
has to defend himself in his home.

Click on the link below to send a pre-written email to your Delegate:


Finally, it's time to tell the House that we want Delegate Gilbert's
restaurant ban repeal, HB 1544, TO BECOME LAW! (This is a matching
bill to Senator Hanger's SB 476):

2. Bills heard last Friday

Friday things went well for gun owners in the House Militia, Police
and Public Safety committee. The following bills were passed out of
committee and are on their way to the Floor:

HB 371, Delegate Carrico - This bill puts teeth in Virginia's
preemption laws by requiring a locality that has a preempted ordinance
and knowingly enforces that ordinance against an individual to pay all
of that individual's legal fees. HB 371 was passed with a huge
bipartisan vote! Only two Delegates voted that localitiies should be
allowed to violate the law with impunity: Jim Scott (surprise,
surprise) and Paula Miller (NRA C-?).

HB 529, Delegate Pogge - This bill allows you to pay $10 to get a new
permit with a change of address if you want one. It also says that
when you get your permit renewed, the effective date of the new permit
will begin on the date the old permit expires. There was a minor
change to the language that VCDL supported and the bill was passed

HB 873, Delegate Johnson - This bill clarifies that honorable
discharge papers from the military do not expire for use as training
when getting a CHP. This bill as originally written had a bad, and
unintentional, flaw. Delegate Johnson worked with VCDL to fix the
flaw and produced a good bill that should end abuses by the Circuit
Court in Washington County and other localities. The bill NOW makes
it clear that ALL proofs of training do NOT expire.

In the House Courts of Justice committee that afternoon, HB 815
(Delegate Albo's bill that original codified the Governor's Executive
Order 50, which takes away gun rights from those who are adjudicated
mentally ill) was modified and passed out of committee. VCDL had
worked with Delegates Albo, Bell, Janis, and Frahlin to make the bill
acceptable to gun owners by making it easier for a person to get his
rights restored once he is cured. It is also an improvement over
current law in that one does not lose one's rights at the moment the
Court issues a Temporary Detention Order, but only after the person
has been observed for 48-hours and the Court determines that the
person indeed needs mental health treatment.

3. Excellent write-up on guns in General Assembly

Of note in the article is a quote by a black Democratic Delegate:

“It’s [the presence of firearms in the Statehouse] reflective of all
of Virginia,” said Del. Kenny Alexander, D-Norfolk, who also has a
concealed weapon permit. “It’s not just rural white men.”

VCDL fully agrees. Here's the article:

General Assembly bill highlights division over firearms
Posted to: General Assembly News Virginia

By Jen McCaffery
The Virginian-Pilot
© January 26, 2008

Del. Lionell Spruill Sr. doesn’t think it’s a good idea for
legislators to carry firearms in the Capitol Square in Richmond –even
if those lawmakers, himself included, have permits to carry a
concealed weapon.

“We really get heated on the House side, and you never know when an
accident might happen,” Spruill said recently. The Chesapeake Democrat
said he knows some fellow lawmakers who carry weapons in the
Statehouse, but he didn’t offer any names.

Earlier this month he introduced legislation to make carrying a
firearm in the Capitol or nearby state office buildings a misdemeanor
punishable by up to a year in jail or $2,500 fine.

On Friday, however, Spruill pulled back the bill, HB1277, saying it
doesn’t have enough support to become law.

“The bill won’t get to the floor. I know they’d kill it. It’d never
get out of committee,” he said.

Spruill is not the only South Hampton Roads legislator who has a
permit to carry a handgun.

Sen. Kenneth Stolle and Del. Bobby Mathieson also have concealed
handgun permits, in part because they got used to carrying them when
they worked as Virginia Beach police officers.

Sen. Frederick Quayle,

R-Suffolk, got a handgun more than 25 years ago, when he was working
late nights at his law office and felt the need for protection.

In all, at least one-third of South Hampton Roads’ 24-member
delegation have concealed-carry permits.

Spruill said he obtained a gun and the permit in 2004 at the
encouragement of friends who were hunters. But he has reconsidered
that decision after watching deer hunting on television.

“After I saw those guys shooting that stuff on TV, I said, 'No way,’”
he said.

The presence of firearms in the Statehouse shouldn’t surprise people,
some legislators say.

“It’s reflective of all of Virginia,” said Del. Kenny Alexander, D-
Norfolk, who also has a concealed weapon permit. “It’s not just rural
white men.”

As of Jan. 5, there were 149,984 active concealed weapons permits in
Virginia, according to Sgt. Michelle Cotten of the Virginia State
Police. Almost 3 percent of all Virginians 21 and older have the
permits, a comparison of police and state census figures shows.

In most parts of the Capitol or the General Assembly buildings, anyone
with a valid concealed weapon permit can carry a handgun, said Lt.
Randy Howard of the Virginia Capitol Police.

“It’s not a lot of people, but there are people who come in on a
regular basis,” Howard said, adding that the only ban is in the Senate
viewing gallery, where even concealed weapons aren’t allowed.

Legislators are allowed to bring firearms into the General Assembly
building regardless of whether they have a concealed handgun permit,
Howard said, by virtue of a decision in 2004 by the joint Rules

“We don’t check them,” Howard said.

The reasons local legislators obtain a concealed weapon permit are as
varied as their politics.

Delegates Chris Jones,

R-Suffolk, and Algie Howell Jr., D-Norfolk, both say they have them
because they’re business owners.

Twenty-one years ago, Jones said, he was held up at gunpoint at his
drugstore, Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy in Suffolk. He pulled his .38-
caliber revolver from under the counter and shot the woman once in the
shoulder. She recovered and was later convicted.

Howell said, “I’ve been an owner of a business for 35 years, and
there’s times when I take sums of money from it, and I carry a gun for
my protection.”

Howell said he doesn’t take his gun to Richmond because there’s no need.

Mathieson applied for his permit after he left the Beach Police
Department in 2002. “It’s just something that I’ve always maintained,”
he said.

Stolle, another former Beach officer who has had a concealed weapon
permit on and off ever since he left the Police Department, said,
“Carrying a handgun used to be far more important to me when I was

Stolle, who owns a 9 mm semiautomatic, said he couldn’t remember the
last time he carried a concealed weapon. It may have been a few years
ago after he was threatened, he said. The senator said he hasn’t
brought a handgun into the General Assembly building.

Del. Johnny Joannou,

D-Portsmouth, has a permit, but said he rarely carries a gun – and
never on the House floor. Joannou said he sometimes puts a handgun in
his vehicle’s glove compartment when he’s traveling.

Quayle said that these days, taking his Colt along is a judgment call.

“If I feel like I could conceivably need some protection, I’ll take
it,” he said.

Circuit Court records also show that Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake,
has a current permit in his home jurisdiction.

“That’s a personal issue for everyone who carries a permit and, I’m
not going to comment on it,” Cosgrove said.

4. Roanoke Times has hissy fit and is attacking Senators Edwards and
Reynolds - time to defend them!

The Roanoke Times is beside itself because it doesn't have the clout
to call the shots on gun control at the General Assembly. So they are
taking it out on Democratic Senators John Edwards and Roscoe Reynolds.

We need some letters to the editor of the Roanoke Times standing up
for those Senators, who helped defeat Senator Marsh's gun show bill.
Other papers that serve the western part of the state should also get
some letters.

Senators Edwards and Reynolds were courageous in standing up to the
immense pressure from Governor Kaine. The Roanoke Times' BS needs to
be countered!

Here is the editorial:

Editorial: Shooting down a gun sales reform
Democrats Edwards and Reynolds joined GOP lawmakers to keep a loophole
opened wide.

In voting no Wednesday, state Sen. John Edwards of Roanoke cast the
most disappointing vote of all in this year's failed attempt to close
Virginia's gun show loophole.

Edwards, a Democrat whose district includes Blacksburg, ignored the
pleas of bereaved families touched by the Virginia Tech shootings in
April. He deserted his party -- the controlling party in the Senate
this year -- and his governor, who made eliminating the gun show
loophole a legislative priority.

Edwards was joined by fellow Democrat Roscoe Reynolds in lining up
with Republicans on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee to kill a
bill that would have required criminal background checks on buyers for
all firearms purchases at gun shows -- even purchases from private
sellers who set up booths at gun shows.

Private sellers are exempt from the law requiring licensed dealers to
check potential buyers against a federal database of people who cannot
legally buy guns.

Reynolds' vote, too, was a disappointment, but hardly a surprise.
Reynolds is from Henry County. His rural district includes the little
town of Hillsville, home to a big gun show every year. Gun show
aficionados strongly oppose closing the loophole in the law.

Edwards' district is more a mix of urban, suburban and rural areas.
But his vote Wednesday cast him solidly in that bloc of rural
legislators who thwart even reasonable measures to tighten enforcement
of gun laws. And that is all the defeated bill would have done.

Granted, Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho did not buy his guns at a gun
show. Another loophole, which kept his disqualifying mental health
history out of the federal database, allowed him to buy firearms from
licensed dealers at a gun shop and by mail. Gov. Tim Kaine ordered
that loophole closed.

Yet, had Cho been stopped, as he should have been, he easily could
have circumvented the law by then taking his business to a gun show.
That loophole, too, needs to be closed.

Edwards and Reynolds helped to stop the momentum for reform in this
first General Assembly after Cho's killing spree. What a shame.


To send a letter to the editor of the Roanoke Times by email, use this
email address:

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VA-ALERT is a project of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Inc.
(VCDL). VCDL is an all-volunteer, non-partisan grassroots organization
dedicated to defending the human rights of all Virginians. The Right to
Keep and Bear Arms is a fundamental human right.

VCDL web page:
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