View Poll Results: Is the Code of Virginia, Title 44, Chapter 1, Section 54.12 [44-54.12] Unconstitutional?

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Thread: 44-54.12. Arms, equipment and facilities.

  1. #1
    Regular Member virginiatuck's Avatar
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    Feb 2009
    Loudoun County, Virginia, USA

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    I apologize if this is off-topic. If there's a forum more suited for this type of question, please let me know. It is relevant to the right to keep and bear arms, but not specifically or necessarily in the form of open-carry.

    Let's start here:

    Code of Virginia, Title 44, Chapter 1, Section 54.12:
    44-54.12. Arms, equipment and facilities.

    The Virginia State Defense Force, to the extent authorized by the Governor and funded by the General Assembly, shall be equipped as needed for training and for state active duty. The Adjutant General, by regulation or otherwise, may authorize the use of privately owned real and personal property if deemed in the best interest of the Commonwealth.

    To the extent permitted by federal law and contracts with the federal government or localities and to the extent that space is available, the Adjutant General in his discretion may authorize the use of armories and other facilities of the National Guard, other state facilities under his control, and all or portions of privately owned facilities under contract for the storage and maintenance of arms, equipment and supplies of the Virginia State Defense Force and for the assembly, drill, training and instruction of its members.

    Members of the Virginia State Defense Force shall not be armed with firearms during the performance of training duty or state active duty, except under circumstances and in instances authorized by the Governor.
    As I read the last paragraph that begins "Members of the Virginia State Defense Force [VDF] shall not be armed with firearms [...]", I thought of the Virginia Bill of Rights.

    Constitution of Virginia, Article I, Section 13:
    Section 13. Militia; standing armies; military subordinate to civil power.

    That a well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state, therefore, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.
    Do the people that make up the VDF thus have the right to keep and bear arms without infringement? By all accounts the VDF is a militia composed of the body of the people.

    Code of Virginia, Title 44, Chapter 1, Section 1:
    44-1. Composition of militia.
    The militia of the Commonwealth of Virginia shall consist of all able-bodied citizens of this Commonwealth and all other able-bodied persons resident in this Commonwealth who have declared their intention to become citizens of the United States, who are at least sixteen years of age and, except as hereinafter provided, not more than fifty-five years of age. The militia shall be divided into four classes, the National Guard, which includes the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, the Virginia State Defense Force, the naval militia, and the unorganized militia.
    So is ยง 44-54.12 unconstitutional or is it somehow actually upholding the constitution?

    I think an order of not being "armed with firearms during the performance of training duty or state active duty" issued by those in command, Governor of Virginia (Commander-in-Chief), Adjutant General of Virginia, and Commanding General, is one thing, and whether that is unconstitutional is debatable; but a law that forbids it "except under circumstances and in instances authorized by the Governor" is, in my opinion, blatantly unconstitutional.

    If anyone disagrees, I would like to hear from you. Please explain why you think or know that it is or is not.


  2. #2
    Regular Member
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    Sep 2007
    Dumfries, Virginia, USA

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    I know a few members that train out of the Manassas Armory are gun-friendly and I know of at least one that is a VCDL member (not counting myself).

    The prohibition is mainly for insurance purposes. The VDF can be armed by order of the Governor but in the majority of instances where the VDF would be called to duty it's just unlikely.

    I do not take any firearms with me to training but my training jacket also has a copy of my CHP.

    I see this as no different than a Reserve Deputy that wears the same uniform and assists the Sheriff and his deputies in law-enforcement activities but does not have a sidearm nor has the powers of arrest.

  3. #3
    Regular Member
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    Feb 2007
    Near Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

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    I'm in the VDF and know that the reasoning behind it is because for now we don't have weapons training in place like other military forces. The state is concerned with the liability of people who are not trained to military requirements carrying firearms while in the performance of duty. Notice that in section 13 above it has "...trained to arms...".

    If a civilian has to use a firearm in self defense, liability rests on the person themselves. Ifa VDF member were to do so, liability would rest on the VDF and on the state. Everything a VDF member does is a reflection of VDF and of the Governor.

    In my battalion, I know of at least two people who are not comfortable with the idea of being armed, and I know several others (myself included) who are not comfortable with the idea of being unarmed.

    The circumstances where the VDF would have to be armed would have to be pretty severe. Even the NG is not armed in performance of their usual state duties unless circumstances require it.

    Even so, I have copies of my CHP and NRA Instructor Certificate in my 201 file for VDF as well as do many others.

    What most people don't know is that everyone in Virginia between the ages of 16 and 65 is part of the "Unorganized Militia", whereas VDF is a state authorized "Organized Militia". In the event that the "Unorganized Militia" would have to be called up, they would be integrated into the VDF, where the VDF would then train them.

    I don't know whether I would considerit would be constitutional or unconstitutional, but joining the VDF is voluntary unless the "Unorganized Militia" were to be called up. It's just like joining any other branch of the military, you're subject to military law, rules and regulations. How many people here who were in the military were able to carry personal firearms while on training or duty?

    Also, most of our drills are performed in federal buildings (armories). But when we're not, but on duty with orders for training or other, we're under military laws, rules and regs.

    That all being said, I personally would really feel better if I was able to carry my personal firearm in accordance with civilian law while on duty, but when I'm on duty with orders in hand, I'm a soldier first, civilian second, so I will abide by the military rules and by my oath, to protect, supportand defend the constitution of the Commonwealth, and of the United States and obey the orders of the President of the US and Governor of the state.

    F YI: The oath taken to join the VDF is as follows:

    I [Name] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Virginia against all enemies, foreign and domestic;that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will obey orders of the President of the United States and of the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia; I will obey the orders of the officers appointed over me; that I make this obligation freely; without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of [Grade/Rank] in the Virginia Defense Force upon which I am about to enter. So help me God.

    Also, for the comment about reserve deputies... there are some jurisdictions where reserve deputies may be armed, but only after they go through proper training.

    Sorry for the novel...

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