Virginia legislators are putting forward a veritable arsenal of bills during this General Assembly session aimed at broadening Virginians' rights to carry, conceal, sell, own, transport — even pray with — guns.
More than a dozen bills dealing with firearms and weapons were filed in advance of the session, which began last week. Most seek looser constraints for gun owners.
Perhaps seeking the most fundamental change in gun control are two bills proposed by Republican delegates: Charles Carrico from Grayson County and Clifford Athey from Warren County. Their proposals take aim at any federal intervention or meddling in Virginia gun sales, ownership or manufacture. The bills are modeled after similar laws in Montana and Tennessee. Each cites the Ninth and 10th amendments to the U.S. Constitution to tell the federal government to shove off on gun control.
Both bills seek to declare an exemption of “firearms, firearms accessories and ammunition manufactured in Virginia from federal regulation.”
Other bills are less sweeping, but no less ambitious.
Seemingly paraphrasing the popular “Shoot first and let God sort them out” bumper sticker, Delegate Mark Cole, R-Spotsylvania, looks to loosen the existing statute banning weapons in houses of worship to allow people with concealed carry permits to pray for peace while holding their piece.
One bill seeks to conceal people who hold concealed carry permits by making permits and permit requests not subject to state sunlight laws.
House Bill 49, sponsored by Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter, R-Prince William, likely won't please Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones. High on Jones' stated legislative wish list is a law tightening the state's gun-purchasing rules.
Lingamfelter's bill essentially would abolish the one-gun-purchase-per-month section of the law that was enacted during Gov. L. Douglas Wilder's tenure.