A Virginia lawmaker is aiming to reverse the pre-Christmas decision by Attorney General Mark Herring to end the state's reciprocal agreements on concealed-handgun-carry permits with 25 other states.
Herring's action, just a month after Virginia voters rejected a slate of Democratic candidates running on gun control platforms in state elections, came as no surprise to Del. Lee Ware (R-Powhatan).
Ware tried to liberalize the commonwealth's reciprocity law in 2015, but failed, owing to a last-minute maneuver he said was engineered and supported by Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
He's going to try again in 2016, using what his spokesman calls a "refined version" of his 2015 bill. In House Bill 12, Ware proposes to remove an audit provision and conditions for Virginia to recognize other states' concealed carry permits. Herring used both to void reciprocity agreements with 25 states.
In their place, Ware's bill would require out-of-state concealed handgun permit holders be able to produce a government-issued photo ID in order for the other state's permit to be considered valid in Virginia.
Last year's bill was "bushwhacked when State Police and the Administration insisted, via the Fiscal Impact Statement that accompanies virtually all legislation, that there would be enormous costs to administer reciprocity,"
Ware spokesman David Bovenizer told AMI Newswire.
"In the intervening months," Bovenizer said, "we both tweaked the bill a bit and gathered data from other states." That research "demonstrated that there are no costs associated with administering reciprocity amongst the states."
In the Department of Planning and Budget's Fiscal Impact Statement, attached to Ware's 2015 legislation, Virginia State Police said they had issued "10,185 Virginia nonresident concealed handgun permits, at $100 per permit, which has resulted in $1,018,500 deposited in the general fund over the three year period."
Non-residents of Virginia can currently apply for a concealed carry permit that is valid for five years. Applicants must demonstrate they have completed a gun safety course, submit their fingerprints for background checks, and provide a recent photo and proof of their identity.
According to the Fiscal Impact Statement, changing the law would cost the state $339,500 in revenue each year, because the application process no longer would be required.
Ware's office pointed out the Fiscal Impact Statement was issued on Feb. 16, 2015, after the House of Delegates had already approved the bill.
The legislation died in a House-Senate conference committee.
Asked how confident Ware is that the revamped bill can win General Assembly approval in 2016, Bovenizer said Ware "does not prognosticate on such things."