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Lawmakers to Vote on Amendment Allowing Magistrates to Carry Firearms in State Buildings

This week, lawmakers will be considering an amendment to a bill they sent to Governor Ralph Northam earlier this year that bans guns at state buildings. The governor's amendment creates an exemption for magistrates.

One of the amendments from the governor that lawmakers will consider during the one-day session this week is a bill introduced by Delegate Mark Levine, a Democrat from Alexandria. His bill bans guns in state buildings, and the governor wants to add an amendment creating an exemption for magistrates.

"Magistrates are not ordinary citizens. These are people who have a position of authority," he says. "It's like Commonwealth's Attorneys, right? I'm not worried about Commonwealth's Attorneys so much as I am about some guy walking into a grocery store with an AR-15."

Phillip Van Cleve at Virginia Citizens Defense League says the amendment makes a bad bill a bit better.

"We hate the bill. I would love to overturn this as soon as we can. But the more people who can carry the safer the buildings will be," Van Cleve says. "It may be a magistrate who happens to be carrying in one of these gun-free zones that might end up stopping a bad guy."

Lawmakers get an up or down vote, no amendments. Either they approve of the bill with the governor's amendment or they reject it all.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.