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Utah Gun Permits Nearly Useless in Virginia, AG Says

Worried of changes, Virginia gun owners taking non-resident classes.

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After Attorney General Mark Herring’s decision to stop honoring concealed weapons permits from 25 states, some Virginia gun owners have been seeking workarounds.

When the law change goes into effect Feb. 1, six states no longer will recognize Virginia permits because of reciprocity laws.

Worried that their permits will become invalid in those states, some Virginia residents are seeking non-resident permits from Utah, which also allow them to carry in Virginia and a number of other states.

But Herring’s office says that those gun owners should think twice about shelling out money for classes to become Utah certified.

That's because of the six states that will invalidate Virginia permits -- Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Dakota and Wyoming -- three also don’t accept the Utah permits.

Herring says his action enforces a state law that says Virginia can’t recognize concealed handgun permits from a state with less stringent permit requirements.

“The Utah non-resident permit that folks are allegedly getting is only good in 30 states right now, and it’s not even recognized in Pennsylvania, South Carolina or Florida,” says Michael Kelly, Herring’s press secretary, in an email. “So, if folks are concerned that their Virginia permit is not going to be recognized in those three states, then the Utah permit doesn’t address that.”

But many gun owners say that there’s nothing to stop other states from not honoring Virginia permits. Buddy Blanton, who owns Pegasus Firearms in Chesterfield County, says that’s much of what concerns gun owners who are calling him and other instructors about Utah permit classes.

“The attorney general turned my part-time business into a full-time business and I don’t know whether to thank him or not” he jokes.

Recently, Kansas’ attorney general said in a news release that Herring’s action was a "surprise and a tremendous disappointment to many law-abiding Kansans who hold concealed carry licenses."

Kelly says that there are no available statistics on how many shootings are committed in Virginia by criminals who hold concealed-carry permits from other states.

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