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Concealed carry law violation bill dies in state Senate

This Wednesday, June 29, 2016, photo shows guns on display at a gun store.
Alan Diaz/AP
This Wednesday, June 29, 2016, photo shows guns on display at a gun store.

Senate Democrats are standing in the way of House Republicans who want to expand access to guns.

Drivers who have a gun in plain sight are not in violation of Virginia's concealed carry permit laws. But if that gun falls to the floorboard and they don't have a concealed carry permit, they could receive a criminal misdemeanor. Delegate Tim Anderson is a Republican from Virginia Beach who says that's wrong, and he introduced a bill that would decriminalize a first offense for violating Virginia's concealed carry law.

"2,339 Virginians in the past two years are being stopped mostly in traffic stops," he explains. "A gun’s found under the seat, they don't know the rules and it becomes a class one misdemeanor."

But not knowing the rules is not really a good excuse says Lori Haas of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

"Why do you not know the law? Why do you not know that you're supposed to store your firearm," Haas asks. "And why do you not know what the rules and the laws are in the Commonwealth of Virginia when you're carrying a firearm, which is a deadly weapon, which puts our law enforcement at risk?"

The Virginia Sheriff's Association opposed the bill, and a bipartisan group of Senators rejected Anderson's bill Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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.