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Thread: VA-ALERT: Legislative Session Wrap-up

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    VA-ALERT: Legislative Session Wrap-up

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Philip Van Cleave
    Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 8:57 PM
    Subject: VA-ALERT: Legislative Session Wrap-up

    Now that the legislative session is over, it's time to recap what
    happened in the General Assembly.

    Because of the Virginia Tech massacre, the sheer number of bills that
    were introduced, both pro-gun and anti-gun, exceeded anything I'd seen
    in the past. In fact, my time at the General assembly between mid-
    January and the end of February were some of the most intense I have
    experienced, requiring, amongst other things, a quick learning session
    on Virginia's mental health laws!

    The anti-gun groups felt that this year would be a record year for
    them. Fortunately for our freedoms, the antis batted zero this
    year. Virtually all of the gun control that was introduced died in
    committee quickly. Except for trying to block pro-gun bills, the anti-
    gunners were pretty much done a couple of weeks into the session!

    Even the governor, who put a tremendous amount of political pressure
    and spent a lot of political capital to get the so called "gun show
    loophole" bill passed, failed to be able to get that bill out of a
    single committee - including a committee controlled by Democrats in
    the Democratic controlled Senate!

    That confirms what VCDL had been saying since last December about the
    Senate now being more pro-gun than it was under Republican leadership.

    However, it was not a good year for gun owners getting pro-gun bills
    passed either.

    We did manage to get five pro-gun bills passed, including a mental
    health gun bill. But two of the most important bills were vetoed,
    leaving us a total of two minor pro-gun bills and one mental health
    bill that were signed into law.

    Of course, if we walked away with little, the anti-gunners,
    demoralized, walked away with their tails tucked firmly between their
    legs! Good work, VCDL!

    Let's look at the different categories of gun bills that were put
    before the General assembly this year.

    **What was passed and signed into law **


    The first bill, HB 529, was one that Delegate Pogge carried to
    fruition for the VCDL which clarified that when you renew your permit
    the renewal date will pick up from the date that the old permit
    expired on. This change means that you would not lose any days weeks
    or months on the amount of time that you paid for when you received
    your five-year permit. The catch is that you must renew between 90
    and 180 days before your permit expires. The bill also set up a
    mechanism for a permit holder to get a new permit when the permit
    holder has a change of address, for a fee of $10. Do realize that you
    are NOT required to update the address on your CHP under either
    current law or HB 529.


    HB 815, introduced by Delegate Albo, was a mental-health bill that
    dealt with firearms. The bill as originally introduced had many
    problems with it and VCDL worked hard with the House Courts of Justice
    committee to get HB 815 into acceptable shape.

    In the end the bill was improved to such an extent that it could be
    supported by VCDL. The bill now has provisions for a person to get
    their rights restored if they're either cured of a mental illness or
    if they were caught up in the mental health system by mistake.

    Here is how the mental health laws will work on July 1 when the new
    law goes into effect:

    If the police believe the person is mentally ill, the police can take
    the person in front of a judge. If the judge feels that the person
    needs to be evaluated to determine if the person is mentally ill, the
    judge can then issue a temporary detention order and the person will
    then be held and evaluated for 48 hours.

    NOTE: Under the current law as soon as the temporary detention order
    is issued, you lose your gun rights, even if you are later shown not
    to be mentally ill. Under the new law your rights are not yet lost.

    If the evaluation shows that you are insane, then the judge can either
    involuntarily commit you to an inpatient facility for treatment or the
    judge can let you have outpatient treatment. Whether you get
    mandatory inpatient or outpatient treatment, you lose your gun
    rights. If you choose to do voluntary outpatient treatment, skipping
    going to court, the new law requires that you must be warned that
    doing so will cause you to lose your gun rights.

    For that reason, I would recommend a person never agree to mandatory
    outpatient treatment! You have nothing to gain and everything to
    lose. Go in front of a judge and fight it. Of course, I am not a
    lawyer and you need to get proper legal advice if you find yourself in
    such a situation.

    On a good point, there are provisions where you can petition the court
    to get your rights restored. There are even appeal provisions so that
    if the court denies your petition, you can appeal to a higher court to
    get your rights back. Unless the court can show that you should not
    have your rights restored because you still have mental-health
    problems, then the court is required to reinstate your gun rights!


    There was one other gun bill that was passed into law and that was HB
    873, introduced by Delegate Johnson. The bill simply clarified
    current law that any kind of training required to get a concealed
    handgun permit would never expire. That is current law, but a judge
    in Washington County was unable to read the current law correctly, so
    this bill was introduced to make sure that it was even more crystal-
    clear than it was before.

    ************************************************** ***
    **What was passed, but vetoed by the Governor**
    ************************************************** ***


    Senator Hanger put in SB 476 for VCDL, which would repeal the
    restaurant ban. That bill passed both houses, which is the first time
    that's ever happened, and landed squarely on the Governor's desk. The
    Governor vetoed the bill saying that he didn't believe that alcohol
    and guns mixed. Forget the fact that the bill prohibited the
    consumption of alcoholic beverages by a person carrying concealed in a
    restaurant with a permit to be able to drink. Again I'm applying
    logic to gun control (and to Governor Kaine's actions) and you can't
    do that and keep your sanity.

    SB 776, put in by Senator Hurt, completely exempts Commonwealth
    Attorneys from the prohibition on carrying concealed WEAPONS anywhere
    in Virginia. Thus, Commonwealth Attorneys will be allowed to carry a
    concealed handgun off-duty into restaurants and drink alcoholic
    beverages as well as carrying openly or concealed on all K-12 school
    properties -- both of which CHP holders are prohibited from doing.
    VCDL feels that law-abiding concealed handgun permit holders should
    have the same abilities to carry as an off-duty Commonwealth
    Attorney. We must now make it a priority to fix this inequity.


    Senator Vogel introduced SB 436, which was a bill that would have
    allowed a person to have a gun in a locked container or locked
    compartment while they are in a vehicle or boat. This bill basically
    reinstated law as it was before an activist judge changed it in the
    1990s. The governor vetoed this bill, again showing his lack of
    understanding of state law.

    **What did NOT pass **


    Delegate Cole introduced HB 109, which would have preempted any state
    agency, except colleges and universities, from implementing their own
    firearms regulations. This bill did not even get a chance to be voted
    on because the House Republican leadership.

    Delegate Gilbert introduced HB 1371, the bill that would make it clear
    that a person with a concealed handgun permit could carry on all state
    property including colleges and universities. It prohibited colleges
    and universities from being able to pass any kind of rule that would
    have affected the ability of a permit holder to carry, including
    students and faculty. Like HB 109, the House Republican Leadership
    ensured that this bill would not be heard in Committee so that it
    would not be voted on.

    Delegate Carrico introduced HB 371 which would have provided a penalty
    for any locality that illegally enforced a preempted ordinance, such
    as what happened to VCDL member Chet Szymeckii in Norfolk last year.
    HB 371 passed the House but died in the Senate Courts of Justice


    Senator Marsh introduced SB 109 in the Senate and Delegate Caputo
    introduced HB 745 and Delegate Marsden introduced HB 592 in the
    House. All three of those bills were to close a nonexistent "gun show
    loophole." The real intent of those bills was to implement a private
    sale registration scheme for gun owners buying guns from a regular
    citizen. Thankfully, all three of the bills died in committee. Even
    pressure on the State Police to support the bill by the Governor and a
    lot of other political capitol spent by the Governor didn't make any
    difference. The Governor just couldn't get on the correct side of gun
    rights this year and paid the price.


    Delegate Janis put in a "castle doctrine" bill, HB 710. That bill
    passed the House but ended up dying in a Senate committee as it has
    for the last several years. Virginia's self-defense laws (set out in
    common law and in case law) are pretty good, so this bill is not as
    urgent as it would be in many other states.


    HB 982, introduced by Delegate Nutter, was a pro-gun bill to protect
    the concealed handgun permit holder list from being made public, as
    was done by the Roanoke Times last year. Delegate Nutter's bill made
    an exception in it for organizations such as the VCDL to get access to
    the list for use in promoting firearm safety and other issues of
    interest to gun owners. (The provision allowing firearms advocacy
    groups access to the CHP list was stripped from the bill in a House
    committee.) The bill also prohibited the release of local lists by
    Circuit Courts.

    Senator Houck introduced SB 529, which would have blocked the
    dissemination of the concealed handgun permit list by the state police
    BUT would have allowed local Circuit Courts to disseminate local
    permit information. This was something that the Freedom of
    Information Act Commission had wanted. However it would allow the
    Free Lance-Star to continue publishing the new CHP holders every
    month, as they have been doing for years now.

    Coincidentally (???) the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star operates
    within Senator Houck's district! Senator Houck opposed Delegate
    Nutter's bill and both of their bills have been referred back to the
    Freedom of Information Act Commission for further work.

    We need to see that the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star privacy
    invasion acts are stopped. I don't have faith that the FOIA Council
    will be helpful.

    In the meantime, the CHP list from the State Police remains locked
    down per the Attorney General opinion from last year.


    Delegate Abbitt introduced HB 79 this year for the Virginia citizens
    Defense League. The bill would have authorized VCDL license plates.
    However due to confusing laws dealing with license plates, we will
    have to try to pass that bill again next year. We will begin
    gathering the applications and money from people who want the plates
    later in the year, as we now know that we have to have all that
    available to the committee when the bill is considered.


    There were a variety of gun bans that were introduced this year - all
    of them defeated in committees!:

    Delegate BaCote introduced HB 697 and Delegate Caputo introduced HB
    734, both of which would have banned guns in libraries, of all places.

    Delegate Spruill was bound and determined to ban guns on Capitol
    grounds, but he got his tail kicked BADLY when he tried it. First he
    introduced a resolution in the House to ban guns in House areas of the
    Capitol. That resolution was CRUSHED by a bi-partisan vote of 77 to
    18! Seeing the writing on the wall (how could he miss it?) Spruill
    pulled his Capitol Gun Ban bill, HB 1277.

    SB 476, introduced by Delegate Caputo, would have banned guns at day
    care centers.

    HB 1338, introduced by Delegate Barlow, would have made brandishing a
    felony. That bill, however, was not killed but was continued to next
    year. Thus we will have to watch to make sure that HB 1338 dies next

    HB 899, introduced by gun-hater Delegate Jim Scott, was a bill that
    would have required cartridges to be microstamped when they're fired
    out of a gun. The idea would be that the casings could be identified
    with a gun. There were so many holes in the bill, that it sank like a

    Delegate Toscano introduced HB 281 and Delegate Eisenberg introduced
    HB 608, both of which would have disarmed a person who has a
    protective order against them while in their own home. I liked to
    think of those bills as, "Claim your spouse is an abuser and let the
    government disarm him or her so that you can go over to his or her
    house and commit murder safely." The committee agreed with that

    SB 33, introduced by Senator Locke, would have banned guns at
    carnivals, festivals and other events. This bill was in response to
    what happened to VCDL member Chet Szymecki in Norfolk, where the
    Norfolk Police illegally enforced an illegal City ordinance that was
    preempted. The police knowingly break the law and Senator Locke
    rushes in not to chastise the police, but to change the law to make
    their illegal action legal. To hell with the citizens.

    HB 588, introduced by Delegate Marsden, would have made concealing an
    air gun a crime. This was the law in the past, but had been fixed not
    too many years ago. VCDL would like to continue to see that the
    current law remain in effect.

    SB 300, introduced by Senator Whipple, would have banned guns in
    government buildings. He did make an exception for concealed handgun
    permit holders and police, but VCDL still opposed it because citizens
    should not need to have a concealed handgun permit to be able to
    exercise their rights. Especially in a government building!


    We had a spectacular VCDL "Lobby Day" this year. With 400 gun owners
    showing up at the General Assembly, we dwarfed the approximately 100
    anti-gun supporters who showed up to hold a rally. The VCDL Lobby Day
    members were broken into groups and went around lobbying the various
    Delegates and Senators, providing reports back to me on who they had
    talked to and what was said. Those reports were very enlightening and
    helped greatly in our efforts to get pro-gun bills passed and anti-gun
    bills killed.

    It is, yet again, gun owners who stood up when called upon and did an
    excellent job in protecting our rights and the rights of future


    There's little doubt that the private sale registration scheme
    (incorrectly referred to as 'gun show loophole') bills that were
    defeated this year will be back again next year with new provisions.
    The crime commission is going to look at the bills and provide some
    information for Delegates and Senators to consider as they look at
    future versions of those bills. But VCDL will be there to fight hard,
    with your help, to make sure that those bills are defeated yet again.

    VCDL will continue to push to repeal the restaurant and we plan to put
    a significant amount of effort into that before the next General
    Assembly session even starts. We will also be fighting to ensure
    college students, faculty, and staff at universities and colleges can
    carry a concealed handgun if they have a CHP without fear of being
    fired or expelled. We will continue to support bills that allow law-
    abiding citizens to have a gun in a locked container or locked
    compartment in a vehicle. Hopefully the Governor will do some
    research to see that had been the law for a very long time before that
    bad judicial ruling.

    I was shocked earlier this year when the State Police spoke in favor
    of the gun show bills in the House and Senate. I believe, however,
    that the support of the State Police was probably coerced by the
    Governor, who had pulled out all stops in trying to get the gun show
    bills passed into law. Fortunately, the position of the State Police
    did not seem to have any effect on the disposition of those bills.

    HB 436, introduced by Delegate Jackson Miller, which would have
    allowed a police officer to arrest someone for a class 1 and class 2
    misdemeanor was ultimately defeated in a Senate committee. But a
    recent ruling by the US Supreme Court said that an officer can indeed
    search your vehicle and your immediate surroundings any time you are
    arrested for any reason, regardless of whether that arrest is actually
    legal under state law (!). I imagine that the ruling will now negate
    the need for Delegate Miller to introduce that same bill again next
    year. We'll see.

    In summary, gunowners took a small step forward and did not take any
    steps backward. Mental health laws were improved and now offer better
    protections for gun owners should they be cured of mental illness or
    should they be incorrectly caught up in the mental health system.

    All things considered we did a good job this year! I want to thank
    everyone for their efforts protecting our rights and for moving the
    ball forward a little more.


    Special thanks to those who put in bills for VCDL: Delegate Pogge (HB
    529 -signed into law), Senator Emmett Hanger (SB 476), Delegate
    Carrico (HB 371), Delegate Gilbert (HB 1371), and Delegate Abbitt (HB

    Thanks also Delegates Johnson and Albo for working diligently with
    VCDL to fix problems in their original bills (HB 873 and HB 815,
    respectively). Delegates Janis, Griffith, and Frahlin also helped
    considerably with fixing HB 815.

    Thanks to freshman Senator Jill Vogel for stepping up to the plate and
    doing a good job fighting for her locked container bill., Many
    legislators stay away from controversial bills their first year, but
    hats off to Senator Vogel for showing how to do it.

    Finally, thanks to Senator Richard "Banjo" Saslaw for reminding us why
    we formed VCDL in the first place. We must never give in to the
    bigotry, the "freedom-be-damned," and the "ends-justifies-the-means"
    mentality of gun-haters. Never.

    ************************************************** *************************
    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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    Founder's Club Member - Moderator longwatch's Avatar
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    A betting man might have wagered that we'd have lost some freedom after Virginia Tech, but we held the line. Good job folks, just remember to come back next year, because the antis will too.

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    Regular Member
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    Louisa County, Virginia, USA

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    longwatch wrote:
    A betting man might have wagered that we'd have lost some freedom after Virginia Tech, but we held the line. Good job folks, just remember to come back next year, because the antis will too.
    +1, especially Lobby Day. Emails, letters and phone calls are always necessary, but seeing hundreds of voters eye to eye really drives the point home.

    Special kudos and thanks to Phillip and the Executive Members of the VCDL, and to all the volunteerswho gave up their weekends to manthe booth at gun shows, all over the state.

  4. #4
    Newbie W.E.G.'s Avatar
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    -----Original Message-----
    From: Philip Van Cleave []
    Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2008 1:34 AM
    Subject: VA-ALERT: National Parks - time to move!

    As you know, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has finally
    published a proposed change to the National Park and National Wildlife
    Refuge rules.

    The question is -- Does this DOI change fairly address either the
    concerns expressed in a letter signed by 51 Senators or VCDL's
    Petition for Rule Making (PRM)?

    -- The letter signed by the 51 Senators states that they support "an allow law-abiding citizens to transport and carry
    firearms consistent with state law where the National Park Service's
    sites and the National Wildlife Refuges are located."

    -- The Petition for Rule Making (PRM) submitted by VCDL requested
    DOI regulations be modified to "permit citizens to carry operational
    handguns for personal protection in National Parks, consistent with
    the laws of the state in which the park is located".

    Does DOI's proposed change do either of the above? NO!

    Instead, the DOI change is nothing more than a token effort to appease
    both a majority of the United States Senate and over a million gun
    owners while still retaining their "if you have a loaded firearm,
    you're a poacher" attitude.

    So, VCDL is asking you to do the following:

    Respond to the DOI's request for input to its proposed rule by
    politely urging them to assimilate state firearms laws for ALL law-
    abiding gun owners where the National Park Service's sites and the
    National Wildlife Refuges are located.

    To send in your comments to the DOI, click here:

    Copy and paste the following text into the "General Comments" box and
    then "Next Step" at the bottom to continue.

    Suggested "General Comments" text:


    The proposed rule falls far short of what Senator Crapo's letter to
    DOI on December 14th, 2007 requested. The letter, signed by 51
    Senators, asked that National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges
    assimilate the host state's gun laws.

    The rule also falls far short of the Virginia Citizens Defense
    League's Petition for Rule Making sent to DOI and dated January 19,
    2008. Like Senator Crapo's letter, the Petition, representing over
    one million gun owners, requested that the gun laws for the host state
    be assimilated.

    The proposed rule needs to assimilate state law in a similar manner as
    National Forests do for the lawful carry of weapons for self-defense.
    That would make the rules for such carriage of self-defense weapons in
    National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests the
    same and consistent with the laws of the state surrounding the parks
    and refuges.

    Please change the wording of the rules as follows, which would make
    the regulation of carry commensurate with standards of the host state,
    while removing the nebulous and confusing wording about "similar
    lands." Existing poaching laws will serve to deter poaching in
    National Parks and Wildlife Refuges, just as they do on state land:

    "A person may possess, carry, and transport loaded, and operable
    firearms or other weapons within a national park area in the same
    manner, and to the same extent, that a person may lawfully possess,
    carry, and transport loaded and operable firearms or other weapons in
    the state in which the federal park, or that portion thereof, is
    located, provided that such possession, carrying and transporting
    otherwise complies with applicable federal and state law."

    And for National Wildlife Refuges:

    "A person may possess, carry, and transport loaded, and operable
    firearms or other weapons within a national wildlife refuge area in
    the same manner, and to the same extent, that a person may lawfully
    possess, carry, and transport loaded and operable firearms or other
    weapons in the state in which the federal wildlife refuge, or that
    portion thereof, is located, provided that such possession, carrying
    and transporting otherwise complies with applicable federal and state

    ************************************************** *************************
    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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