Griffin’s proposals would have expanded concealed carry rights and protections
Del. Tim Griffin, R-Bedford County, faced opposition from House Democrats on Thursday as they voted down two of his gun bills in a newly created Firearms Subcommittee. Griffin’s bills would have allowed more people to apply for enhanced concealed handgun permits and to carry concealed handguns without a permit if they have a protective order.
Griffin argued that his bills were meant to protect the rights and safety of law-abiding gun owners, especially in rural areas where police response times may be longer. He said that concealed carry permit holders rarely commit gun crimes, and that they could help stop mass shootings in gun-free zones.
Enhanced concealed handgun permit
Griffin’s House Bill 395 would have created an enhanced concealed handgun permit for anyone age 21 or older who demonstrates competence with a handgun, including a live fire shooting exercise with at least 100 rounds of ammunition. The enhanced permit would allow the holder to carry a firearm in any place where a law-enforcement officer may carry a firearm, including most public buildings.
Griffin said that the enhanced permit would require more training and background checks than the regular permit, and that it would give gun owners more freedom and responsibility. He said that the current law restricts the rights of law-abiding citizens, while criminals do not follow the rules.
The bill was supported by several gun rights organizations, such as the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Shooting Sports Association. Patricia Webb of the Virginia Citizens Defense League said that 65% of mass murders are stopped by a person who is not law enforcement but a concealed handgun permit holder. Richard Pyle, a firearms instructor from Dinwiddie County, said that he wanted to be able to carry his firearm in places where he could defend himself and others.
Protective order exception
Griffin’s House Bill 396 would have allowed a person who has been granted a protective order to carry a concealed handgun for 45 days after the order is issued, even if they do not have a concealed handgun permit. The bill would also allow the person to apply for a temporary or permanent permit within that period.
Griffin said that his bill was inspired by the case of Carol Bowne, a New Jersey woman who was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend in 2015 while waiting for a gun permit. Griffin said that his bill would give victims of domestic violence a chance to defend themselves from their abusers.
The bill was endorsed by the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and the Virginia State Police Association. John Jones, the executive director of the latter, said that the bill would provide a “lifeline” for people who fear for their lives.
Both of Griffin’s bills were rejected by a 7-2 vote, with all Democrats voting against them and all Republicans voting for them. The Democrats argued that the bills would endanger public safety and undermine the existing gun laws.
Del. Dan Helmer, D-Fairfax, the chair of the Firearms Subcommittee, said that Griffin’s bills were “dangerous” and “unnecessary”. He said that the enhanced permit would allow people to carry guns in places where they are not welcome, such as schools, churches, and government buildings. He also said that the protective order exception would create a loophole for people who are not qualified to carry a concealed handgun.
Del. Cia Price, D-Newport News, said that Griffin’s bills would increase the risk of gun violence, especially for women and people of color. She said that the enhanced permit would make it harder for law enforcement to identify armed suspects, and that the protective order exception would escalate domestic disputes.
Griffin said that he was disappointed by the outcome of the votes, but he vowed to continue fighting for his bills. He said that he hoped to persuade some Democrats to change their minds, or to appeal to the governor to intervene.
However, Griffin’s chances of success seem slim, as Democrats control both chambers of the General Assembly and Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, has expressed support for some gun control measures. Youngkin has said that he supports universal background checks, red flag laws, and banning bump stocks. He has also said that he opposes limiting abortions after 15 weeks, which is another issue that divides the parties.