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GOP in Virginia Backing off Most Pro-Gun Measures

While we’re certainly happy, in Virginia, to see the state’s gun rationing scheme disappear, the GOP controlled legislature is still killing a number of pro-gun bills. It would seem our opponents’ fear of a flood of pro-gun legislation are unfounded. The GOP controlled legislature has killed a measure to shield permit information from public view. I can understand why the GOP might not want to take up the issue of guns on campus this legislative session. I can even understand why, in the state where Liberty University spawns many members of the GOP establishment, they might want to avoid the Sunday hunting issue. But making permits private? I can’t imagine this will push the legislature over the edge into “just too pro gun” in the eyes of the public. The only folks who ought to make an issue out of this are a handful of antigun reporters. I’m aware that open government groups have taken a position here:

“This is not a Second Amendment issue, but it is about the public’s ability to monitor how government conducts the process,” Stanley said. “We would urge you to err on the side of keeping the public’s right to know with court records.” Megan Rhyne of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government said the fact that the state has chosen to require licenses to carry concealed weapons means information about those licenses should be open.

I’m generally for complete transparency when it comes to government, but my chosen method of self-defense ought not be a public matter. The logical result of the obstinance of folks like Megan Rhyne and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, is that we’ll push to eliminate the permit process altogether. Take your pick, because how I choose to defend myself being a matter of public record is not an option here.

9 Responses to “GOP in Virginia Backing off Most Pro-Gun Measures”

  1. Spade says:

    Damnit, and there was a good reason to push for that law too.

    Last time the Roanoke Times got in a flutter over CCW and published a list of permit holders some lady who had a restraining order and was in freakin’ hiding from an abusive ex got outed. Her comment was basically, “Thanks a lot. Now I have to move again.”

  2. Jake says:

    The VA GOP leadership also killed the Constitutional carry bill by having the committee chair “pocket veto” it. It never even got scheduled for a committee hearing.

    The privacy bill: According to the VCDL president, one Senator who voted against the privacy bill may have been mistaken about current law. We just got an “urgent action item” (literally, ten minutes ago) to contact him with the correction and request that he ask the committee to reconsider the bill.

    URGENT ACTION ITEM FOR THOSE LIVING IN SENATOR EDWARD’S DISTRICT (21) OR SENATOR NORMENT’S DISTRICT (3)

    HB 25, which would protect the information on your concealed handgun permit application from being given out, was killed in the Senate Courts of Justice committee yesterday. It would have passed, but neither Senator Norment nor Senator Edwards supported protecting your privacy, and both of them should have done so.

    Senator Edwards told me afterwards that a Circuit Court Clerk may withhold CHP information from dissemination. But that statement was only partially true. The Clerk may withhold the CHP holder’s Social Security Number and nothing else.

    If you live in Senator Edward’s district, let’s ask him POLITELY to bring that bill up for a revote and ask him to change his vote to support the bill and get it out of committee.

    Senator Edwards email address: district21@senate.virginia.gov

    Suggested subject: Reconsider the vote on HB 25

    Suggested message:

    Dear Senator Edwards,

    Since a Circuit Court Clerk does NOT have the option to withhold all identifying information about concealed handgun permit holders and you voted on the prevailing side, please ask the Courts of Justice committee to reconsider its vote on HB 25. Please SUPPORT the bill on this revote and get it passed out of committee. I want my privacy protected from those who might do me harm. There is no reason this information needs to be given out.

    For those living in Senator Norment’s district, here is his email address. Ask him POLITELY to bring HB 25 back up by reconsidering the vote and to support it this time:

    Senator Norment: district03@senate.virginia.gov

    I’d link to it instead, but I only have the email – it hasn’t hit their website archives yet.

  3. When permit issuance is discretionary, requiring the information be public record (or at least reviewable by responsible parties, and journalists as well) makes a lot of sense. It exposes a lot of corruption. With non-discretionary issuance, there is far less argument for making these public records.

    Nonetheless: if the concern is that it might expose you to risk, I am very skeptical. Anyone that intends to kill you (as opposed to holding up the next wealthy looking stranger on the street) does not care whether you have a concealed weapon. They’ll just shoot you before you have a chance to draw, perhaps with a rifle or shotgun.

    Publishing or making public record an address (even just a city) is irresponsible and unnecessary for the case mentioned above with dangerous ex-spouses, and really useless for exposing corruption problems.

    The most effective way to get the message across to journalists who insist on this sort of thing is tell that them you carry a gun to perform low-cost, low-quality abortions, and it is therefore protected by the mythical right to privacy.

  4. Chuck says:

    I’m wondering if there is other personally-identifying information that the state doesn’t release. I suspect the VA DMV will eagerly sell you a list of drivers’ names and addresses and/or vehicle registration info, but will they also provide a list of Virginia residents receiving state welfare payments, or info about elected representatives and their staff members?

    The point here is, if there is some personally-identifying data they will not release, that forms a basis for also not releasing CWP holders, especially since some of the CWP holders, as Spade mentioned above, may have those permits as a result of being a crime victim.

    And, IIRC, Virginia is already at least partially a Constitutional carry state. This is from memory, so I’m not completely sure, but I seem to remember Article 1, Section 13 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth as being rather specific as to the right to keep and bear arms, and Section 18.2-308, Section A of Virginia Code uses the phrase “hidden from common observation,” which allows open carry without a permit.

    Full Constitutional carry would, of course, allow concealed carry without a permit requirement, but when I lived there one could carry one’s sidearm anyplace in the Commonwealth with no permit, as long as it was “not hidden from common observation.” That is still true. (It’s kind of a trick question, though – places like post offices are federal reservations, so one leave the Commonwealth when one enters a post office.)

  5. Spade says:

    “And, IIRC, Virginia is already at least partially a Constitutional carry state.”

    Correct. Open carry of firearms here is totally legal without a permit EXCEPT for certain firearms with certain features in certain places. Think “assault weapons” in large communities. To carry those openly you need your CHL and then you’re good to go.

  6. mobo says:

    Ok, fine. Let’s make public a list of all those collecting food stamps and housing subsidies, complete with home addresses and all. You think these highly sincere “open government” advocates would ever call for something like this?

    I really don’t worry about burglars using a public database to figure out which houses to rob. If they’re that resourceful, they’re probably not burglars in the first place. I’m more concerned with giving potential employers access to that sort of information. It could make the difference between having a job or staying in the unemployment line a lot longer.

  7. Jake says:

    Another concern I realized this morning: The wording of the current statute makes the Clerk’s withholding of a permit holder’s social security number optional.

    §18.2-308(D)
    […] The clerk of court may withhold from public disclosure the social security number contained in a permit application in response to a request to inspect or copy any such permit application, except that such social security number shall not be withheld from any law-enforcement officer acting in the performance of his official duties. [emphasis mine]

    In other words, absent another statute or case law that specifically overrides this one, the clerk can, if he wishes, give out a permit holder’s social security number to anyone who asks for the permit holder’s CHP information.

    The fact that I have a CHP is available to anyone who can look up my name on the state’s courts website. Unless the clerk thinks to routinely withhold SSN’s from these requests, any random person can get the information he needs to steal my identity (name, birthdate, SSN) simply by requesting my CHP information from the court.

    Even worse, since it’s specifically in the statute as a discretionary part of his job, that clerk is protected against both criminal and civil consequences if releasing my SSN leads to someone stealing my identity.

    Will an anti-gun court clerk withhold that critical information, or will he gleefully release it, knowing that there will be no legal consequences to him for doing so?

  8. Some Open Society Guy says:

    Well, I guess it’s a safe bet that Megan Rhyne does not support gun rights, and wouldn’t ever keep a gun in the house for her own protection. In the interest of furthering the goal of an open society, here is Megan Rhyne’s home address, where she resides alone…unarmed:

    Megan Rhyne
    1234 Fake Street
    Alexandria, VA 22314

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