The first wave of gun bills for Virginia’s 2013 legislative session have been introduced, and can be found here. They’re pretty much all bad, either being anti-gun or carving out exceptions for “special” groups. Here’s a quick summary.
- HB 1326: Removes all hunter safety courses and all electronic/video/on-line courses from the list of courses that satisfy the requirements for a CHP, and requires any course taken to qualify for a CHP to specifically focus on “the use and handling of a concealed handgun”.
- HB 1391: Prohibits the possession of weapons in legislative buildings except by any person who lawfully possesses a handgun. [So, I guess if someone wanted to kill someone in a legislative building, they would have to use a handgun instead of a rifle, shotgun, or knife. Oh, and people who can't lawfully possess a firearm can't carrying a handgun that they're prohibited from having into legislative buildings.]
- HB 1410: Expands the list of crimes that prohibit someone from possessing a gun for 5 years. [This may be redundant, as they all seem to be crimes of domestic violence, and such people are already prohibited from possessing a gun for life under federal law. It does, however, provide a process for such people to petition for a reinstatement of their gun rights at the state level.]
- HB 1411: Deals with hoax “weapon[s] of terrorism”. [I see some potential for abuse in this one, depending on how the courts or the legislature decide to define what is a "weapon of terrorism". I do not see any such definition, or a reference to any such definition, in this bill, so there's nothing to stop a court from deciding that "Terrorists use AK-47s, therefore, AK-47s are weapons of terrorism, and therefore using, selling, giving, distributing, or manufacturing anything that looks like an AK-47 is a felony.]
- SB 703: Exempts retired correctional officers from the fee for a CHP. Also contains minor linguistic changes to the CHP statute. [Other than adding another group to a special class, it appears generally harmless. The linguistic changes do not appear to change anything in the meaning of the statute.]
- SB 785: Creates a civil liability for a victim of theft if a gun stolen from them is used in a crime resulting in injury or death and “if it can be shown by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm came into the possession of the person who committed the crime because of the failure of the civil defendant to adequately secure the firearm from theft or unauthorized possession”. [In other words, blame the victim for the actions of a criminal, in order to make gun ownership a legal risk. These laws are dangerous, because no matter how well you secure your guns, if one was stolen it was, by definition, not adequately secured from theft or unauthorized possession. Because if it was adequately secured, it couldn't have been stolen.]
- SB 786: A “lost or stolen” bill. Requires reporting a lost or stolen gun to police within 48 hours, and imposes a $250 “civil penalty” for failure to do so. [Again, punish a law abiding victim for the actions of a criminal, in order to make gun ownership a legal risk.]
Not one of these bills has a beneficial purpose, and most are just plain bad. HB 1326, SB 785, and SB 786 are particularly egregious to gun owners. We need to stop all of these, fast – preferably in committee. Call your state legislators, today.
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