More than 40 weapons bills are before the legislature this year, the majority of which will expand the people’s ability to purchase, own, and use weapons. This is because of the changing political atmosphere within the state. With more conservative Republicans in the House and Senate, relaxing gun control laws will have more support.
The most “high profile” change, according to the Washington Post, is doing away with the one-per-month handgun purchasing limit. Those who support the measure say the law, which was instated in 1993, was designed to lessen the role that Virginia weapons’ dealers played in the East Coast gun trafficking system, and that it is simply no longer required with the new laws on the books and all of the exceptions that have been written in.
Sen. Charles W. Carrico, (R-Grayson), says the law has “outlived its purpose,” particularly because the state now uses background checks that it didn’t when the law was initially passed. Also, law enforcement, gun dealers, and people with concealed-weapons permits were allowed to sidestep the law anyways, creating a “piecemeal” approach to gun control.
Though similar legislation to repeal the law has died in committee over previous years, this year is different. It has made it out of committee and passed both the House and Senate. It now awaits the Governor’s signature.
Among other changes to the state’s gun laws are doing away with the fingerprint requirement for those seeking concealed weapons permits. Lawmakers have already voted to do away with the current law, which requires fingerprints as part of the application process.
Also, the House has passed a bill that would allow government employees to store weapons in their personal vehicles while parked at work. This new law requires the gun to be kept inside of a container and the vehicle to be locked. The container, however, does not have to be secured and ammunition does not have to be kept out of sight.
Currently the House is evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats, and Republicans are often those that back more lax gun laws. Though gun control advocates are unhappy with the changes, many of the proposed laws are not in their first time through the legislative gauntlet; and this time they have a much better chance at passing.
But even with gun rights advocates in both houses of the legislature and a relatively gun-liberal Governor, you can’t expect more lenient treatment in the courts if you are charged with a weapons offense. If you are facing charges for something like carrying a concealed weapon or being a felony in possession of a firearm, we may be able to help.