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Lawmakers Aim to Overturn Governor's Gun Orders

Opponents of new gun control laws have set their sights on two executive orders issued by the governor – vowing to undo Terry McAuliffe’s limits on those who want to carry concealed weapons in the Commonwealth.  Sandy Hausman has that story.

Letters have gone out to 25 states informing them that because they have different rules for carrying a concealed weapon, Virginia will no longer honor the permits they’ve issued.  Senator Bill Carrico says that’s a big problem for his district.

“Being a legislator that represents an area that is bordered by Tennessee, North Carolina, West Virginia and Kentucky, and a lot of times to get to a place in Southwest Virginia you’ve got to go through those states," he explains.

" In Bristol, for example, you can stand on State Street and straddle the double solid line, and depending on which side your holster is on, you could be in violation of the law.”

Senator Tom Garrett argues people with permits to carry a concealed weapon are hardly the problem.

“Concealed permit holders are responsible for 1/200th of crimes -- the safest, most law-abiding segment of the entire population of the Commonwealth," he says.

But Senator Dick Saslaw points out that the governor was just enforcing a law that enjoyed bi-partisan support when the legislature approved it.

“I got news for you. Y’all voted for that law," he told colleagues on the Senate floor.  "Well not you all," he added, " but the people who were here before you.  They voted for it.  They had to have the same requirements we had.”

And Saslaw notes some states that enjoyed reciprocity have done a poor job of screening those who got concealed carry permits .

“Apparently Florida, as of 2006, had already handed out 1,400 concealed weapon permits to citizens who had criminal records – 218 outstanding warrants including 14 wanted for murder.”

Lawmakers will also try to undo the governor’s ban on guns in government buildings.

“We here on the General Assembly grounds are afforded the protection from the capitol police," says  Carrico. "What about those at VDOT?  What about those at the DMV?  What about the times that you drive down the Interstate and you stop at the rest area.  You’re criminally violating a trespass law now that the executive order is in place.”

But supporters of the gubernatorial ban cast doubt on the wisdom of letting people carry guns in any public place. 

“If somebody comes in here and starts shooting, and you take out your gun and in the process of maybe even killing this guy  you injure four or five people, these lawyers have told me you better have one heck of an insurance policy, because you’re going to need it after you get finished getting sued, and if you kill somebody who was not the guy with the gun, you’re going to be prosecuted with at minimum a manslaughter charge,” says  Saslaw.

During Senatedebate, opponents of the ban responded with several tales of gun owners who successfully defended themselves, including Carrico who claimed he encountered a fight in the parking lot of a restaurant. When Carrico tried to intervene, he claims the man pointed a gun at him in his brand new pick-up truck, a gesture he said made him mad.

“I hit the gentleman with my door, knocked him back, pulled my gun and was prepared to shoot.  He saw the gun and began to flee,” he recalled.

Carrico says the culprit is now serving a two year sentence in prison.  Because Governor McAuliffe has said he will veto legislation that threatens public safety, opponents of his executive orders are not expected to succeed in overturning them.